Home > Spotlight Analysis > Passover: Important to American Jews, but Not Nearly as Important as Yom Kippur
Passover: Important to American Jews, but Not Nearly as Important as Yom Kippur
Joanna Piacenza, Rachel Lienesch,

Don’t pass the matzo ball soup just yet—Jewish Americans don’t say Passover is as important as other Jewish holidays.


A plurality (43 percent) of American Jews said Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement,” is the most important Jewish holiday to them personally. This is according to PRRI’s 2012 Jewish Values Survey, which, among other questions, asked Americans who identify as Jewish what the most important Jewish holiday is to them personally.

In a distant second place by 18 percentage points is Passover (25 percent)—known to the Jewish community as Pesach—which begins this Friday. The weeklong spring holiday marks the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Passover usually begins with a Seder, a festive meal during which Jews retell the story of the exodus from Egypt. Although Passover does not receive the same interest as Yom Kippur, most Jewish Americans (68 percent) plan to participate in a Passover Seder, while 27 percent say they will not participate.

Only 10 percent of American Jews said that Hanukkah is the most important holiday; another 10 percent say the same of Rosh Hashanah.

There are some differences among the three main Jewish denominations—Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox—on the relative importance of the holidays, with all ranking Yom Kippur ahead of Passover in importance. However, those with no denominational affiliation who identify as “just Jewish” are about equally as likely to judge Passover (26 percent), as Yom Kippur (23 percent) as most important to them.

For more information, read the survey here.