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?