Oh No, The Jews in America are Doomed, Doomed They Say

Another day another research paper showing how the Jews of America are doomed. Doomed to the oblivion of the Ten Lost tribes. Doomed to go the way of Babylonian Jews who integrated into that society and were never heard from again. There is a 58% intermarriage rate overall and with a 71% intermarriage rate for non-Orthodox Jews. HERE

The actual Pew Research Report HERE.

OY Vey….Here is the response I wrote at Israellycool:

This is the same statistic they have had for decades. When I was growing up it was 50% intermarriage rate and now its 58%. The answer isn’t moving to Israel for every American Jew. That is not going to happen. It is about the Jewish community in general and their emphasis on non-Jewish society and its importance.

The freedom found in the USA and the acceptance that the Jewish community has found in the USA is both a blessing and curse. Because we are so free and free to make all kinds of choices not allowed to Jews in the past 2000 years, there is a demographic reality that we need to deal with. That is also why the reform movement changed the definition of Jewish descent to include both patrilineal as well as matrilineal. Reality is reality and if the Jews want to keep their children in the fold it is important to accept that instead of pushing these couples away.

In the meantime the non-orthodox Jewish community needs to revamp its way to attract people and make them feel welcome. The leftist politics of the US Jewish community is what turns me off and makes us feel alienated and not wanted and causes us NOT to be involved in the greater Jewish community. So it’s not always about religion or lack of caring about Jewish heritage.

For most who don’t belong to a synagogue its financial. Being a Jew in the USA is very expensive. Between, temple dues, building fund, cost of Hebrew school etc. For people with no children there is no need to belong to a Temple/Synagogue and quite frankly my money is better spent elsewhere, like college and graduate school, and honestly a vacation or two and maybe even a trip to Israel for the family.

Will my children marry Jews? I would like that very much. It is something I mention to them and how important it is. But in the end the decision is theirs. I can’t control their choices any more than you can control your child’s choices. All you can do is teach and hope that it works out for the best. BTW having had several Jewish girlfriends whose Jewish husbands beat them (luckily both of those marriages did end), I don’t think the operative word for marriage is “Jewish” person but “good” person.

I don’t keep kosher but would not eat pork or bring pork into my home. We do not have a Christmas tree and would never celebrate that holiday. My husband did as a child and it is a source of embarrassment to him.

But u will find that many Jews who do celebrate Christmas have a non-Jewish spouse (with intermarriage so high that only 1/3 of Jews have a tree is not bad) or consider Christmas a secular federal holiday. As America itself becomes less and less religious so do all religious holidays no matter the religion.


As Jews tend to do they like to focus on the negative. Yet there is alot of good in that survey as well. Jews, even the nonreligious ones are proud to identify as Jews and overwhelmingly support Israel even if they don’t support the settlements.

The question is how to bring together the idea of Jewish identity in the greater universality of the United States. Home observance and an understanding of where you come from would be a good start. But this comes from the parents and it is the parents of my generation that find it unnecessary to bring their Judaism into their home. They think that Judaism is just about the High Holy days and the Bar/bat Mitzvah party.

Luckily there are the Birthright trips that have become de rigueur in the Jewish-American world. But even this is not a guarantee that your descendants will be Jewish. But at least it gives your family a fighting chance.

Truth be told you also do not need the Jewish community as a whole to teach your children. It is nice to feel that you belong to a greater society, but in the end it’s what you teach your child in your own home. If parents do not pass on to their children a love of their heritage it is a rare child that finds it on their own.

So as with everything else that happens in child-rearing, it comes down to parenting and what you teach or do not teach your children. Teach your child to be proud of their heritage and who they happen to be. It will help in who they choose as a spouse. But in the end all you can do is pray that they meet someone who is nice, kind, descent and a good person. If these potential in-laws  also happen to be Jewish then  dayenu.


Now on the other hand, a recent survey by Brandeis University (HERE) has found that the number of Jewish-Americans has been seriously under counted. Right now there are approximately  6.8 million Jews living in the United States. HERE

So as per usual, in everything that the Jewish people do, think and say, there are numerous answers to every single question. Why should the questions of demographics and descendents be any different?


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7 Responses to Oh No, The Jews in America are Doomed, Doomed They Say

  1. i’ll only comment that the Brandeis population study cooked the books by using a very elastic definition of who is Jewish.

    • asd2mom says:

      Hi Jeffrey,
      Thanks for the comment.

      But the issue of “who is a Jew” is the main issue is it not? While the Jews in the USA are more than happy to welcome into the fold those of patrilineal descent and those who are simply culturally instead of religiously Jewish so many doomsayers are not.

      I for one am happy to welcome into the Jewish family anyone with Jewish ancestry or any Jewish conversion that wants to identify as a Jew. The orthodox version of Judaism is not the only one that is relevant to world Jewry. It is time that the “rabbunim” realized that.

  2. “I for one am happy to welcome into the Jewish family anyone with Jewish ancestry or any Jewish conversion that wants to identify as a Jew.”

    But that’s the point – a significant number of those counted in the Brandeis study do not fit ANY definition of Jewish, not Orthodox, not Conservative, not Reform, and not even secular or even their self-definition. A large number in the study have some Jewish ancestry but no connection of any kind to Judaism or the Jewish community, and many are in fact practicing other religions. I’m not sure we should be counting Christians as Jews to get the numbers up. If we’re going to cast the net so wide, then we may as well include every person in America who has some Jewish ancestor somewhere in their family – then we can say that there are 20 million American Jews.

    Harold Berman
    Co-Author – Doublelife: One Family, Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope

    • asd2mom says:

      Thank you for your comment. The truth of the matter is that many in the US do count those with some Jewish ancestry as “jews” in the ethnocentric sense of the word. You only have to look at the list of famous actors or singers to see how many “partial” jews are listed as part of the Tribe. There is nothing wrong with it as long as it is also acknowledged that these people, who have Jewish ancestry but practice Christianity, are not spokespersons for the Jewish people.

      The Brandeis study also talked about those who are proud of their Jewish heritage. That 94% of those polled, including those who do not practice Judaism but only have Jewish ancestry. I think that is a major point of the study. descendants of Jews who are proud of their Jewish history. That too is unique i n history. For eons people tried to hide their Jewish ancestry when they were confronted with the truth.

      I do think you miss the point of the Brandeis study when you talk about 20 million That is a bissele ad absudum.

      • Thanks. The question is whether, if we simply apply an ethnocentric definition, how that differs substantially from the Nazi definition of Jewishness (beyond that we are using if for positive rather than negative purposes). We are not a race, but a people, which is clear from the fact that people not born Jewish can choose to become Jewish. Although ancestry plays a role, if someone has some Jewish ancestry but nothing else about them is Jewish – at some point, simply calling them Jewish anyway starts to sound like a racial definition, which is not true to what the Jewish people actually is. I know that many converts, who often have worked for years to be called Jewish, resent that someone with no commitment, etc. who may happen to have a Jewish ancestor is touted as “a member of the tribe,” or “half-Jewish” or whatever. And I think those converts are right.

        You make a good point about people saying they are proud of their Jewish heritage. Which is nice, as you say. But beyond a sense of Jewish pride or some level of acceptance in general non-Jewish society, I wonder what it really means. I had two good friends some years ago. They were both church organists and spent most of their waking hours in the church. They both had Jewish ancestry and both would talk about how proud they were of their Jewish heritage. Again, while that can be seen as a positive thing and it certainly is for them on a personal level, from the perspective of the Jewish people both maintaining its vibrancy and fulfilling its unique mission in the world, I’m not sure that it has any practical value.

        I did make my 20 million/Brandeis study comment tongue in cheek. However, the point is that many included in their study do not even consider themselves to be Jewish (although they may consider themselves to have some Jewish heritage and be proud of it). My point, made admittedly in an absurd way, is if we’re going to include people who are not connected in any way (and surely their kids who are not be raised with any Judaism, will not be), why stop there? At a certain point, an elastic definition of Jewishness can become so attenuated as to be completely meaningless.

        • asd2mom says:

          Thanks for coming back. You make some really good points.

          I can see how converts resent the laxness of born-Jews, but if one chooses to become Jewish then you want to with a certain fervor and what someone else does shouldn’t really matter. Think of it this way: those trying to become citizens of the US probably know more about the history and laws of this country then native-born Americans. hey may find it ridiculous that Americans take so much for granted (I happen to a well) but that is generally how the system works. You aren’t any less a born-Jew because you are nonobservant as you are any less a born-citizen if you don’t know the name of the VP.

          In the end however, I always choose what Ben-Gurion said when asked who is a Jew…to paraphrase him: A Jew is anyone crazy enough to stand up and say he is a Jew.

  3. Lee says:

    I recall reading Julius Lester’s book about his conversion journey, and though anecdotal, he found that many other converts that he met had someone Jewish in their background. (I think one his grandparents had been Jewish.) I knew a young man once named Chris. He found out, when his grandmother was dying, that she had been Jewish, but married a non-Jewish man, and raised their daughter as a Christian. She had no idea growing up. As grandma lay dying, she regretted her decision. Her grandson wanted to learn more about it, and as he did, he embraced Judaism. His first name confused people. I often wonder if he ever changed it.

    So, those that leave, their descendents may return… Hopefully.

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