The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life recently released the results of a new survey on religious knowledge in America. If you’re interested, you can take an abridged version of the quiz on line. (http://features.pewforum.org/quiz/us-religious-knowledge/index.php) I’m delighted to report that I answered all of the questions correctly!
A much more interesting result is that from a sampling of all religious groups who participated in the survey, Jews achieved the second highest religious knowledge score. On average answering 20 out of 36 questions correctly, Jews placed just behind Atheists and Agnostics, but ahead of evangelical and mainline Protestants, and Catholics.
I find this surprising, and will discuss what I think it means this coming Shabbat.
For now, I’ve devised my own brief survey. Three questions that seek to establish basic literacy about Judaism and the Jewish people.
1. What is Judaism’s central belief? a. Ethical Monotheism b. “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” c. Tikkun Olam – Repairing the World
2. What is Judaism’s most important celebration? a. Yom Kippur b. Shabbat c. Passover
3. What is the common bond Jews share? a. Jews are a cultural or ethnic group b. Jews are a race c. Jews are a people
Can you answer them? Though there is a correct answer to each, these questions are designed to stimulate thought and discussion. I invite you to explain your answers. I’d also love to know what you would ask. What information or ideas establish basic religious literacy about Judaism?
At services this Shabbat, we’ll discuss these questions and also take a look at some of the questions on the Pew Forum survey. I look forward to your answers and thoughts.