Considering what makes up the “Jewish civil religion”

The Jewish civil religion entails transnational Jewish solidarity and the sense of belonging to and promoting Jewish political, economic, and social flourishing (e.g. helping communities in distress, promoting Israel and its causes, advancing Jewish education and continuity). Its major practices involve membership in Jewish organizations, donations to Jewish causes, and mobilization for specific campaigns (e.g. political support for Israel or, in the past, freeing Soviet Jewry). As a “religion,” Jewish civil religion has a sacred aspect and rests upon a feeling of Jewish sacred ethnicity. The “sacredness” of Jewish sacred ethnicity expresses itself in a variety of ways: in the sense of Jewish “chosenness” or specialness, that Jews have special obligations to be moral or fight for justice, and in the normative obligations that it imposes – especially regarding Jewish identity itself and continuity – one ought to identify as a Jew! This sense of sacredness is not doctrinal, but rather, it is experienced. It does not necessarily entail formal religious belief. Indeed there are Jews who feel that Jews are somehow special but do not believe in God.

Shlomo Fischer, “Who are the “Jews by Religion” in the Pew Report?“, Times of Israel (18 November 2013).