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September 09, 1983 - Image 95

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-09-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

May the coming

year be filled

with health and

happiness for

all our family

and friends

CAROL, CHUCK & MELISSA
ELLSTEIN

Changing Patterns in Jewish Family
Life Pose Challenges for the Future

By DR. JONATHAN
WOOCHER

(Copyright 1983, JTA, Inc.)

(Editor's note: Dr.
Woocher is an assistant
professor in the Horns-
tein Program in Jewish
Communal Service at
Brandeis University.)

Best wishes for a
happy, healthy
New Year

DOROTHY & HARMON MOSS

Wishing all our family and
friends a year of
health and happiness

Wishing all our family and
friends a year of
health and happiness

MR. & MRS. ELI FRIEDMAN

of West Palm Beach, Florida

Wishing all our family and
friends a year of
health and happiness

A Very Happy and Healthy
New Year to All Our Friends
and Family

DR. & MRS. DAVIS A. BENSON

A Very Happy and Healthy
New Year to All Our Friends
and Family

DR. & MRS.
MATHEW BOROVOY & FAMILY

A Very Happy and Healthy
New Year to All Our Friends
and Family

HELEN & NATE GREENBERG

One can hardly read a
Jewish periodical today
without encountering ex-
pressions of concern for the
future of the American
Jewish family. From the
perspective of the Judaic
tradition such concern is not
misplaced: the family is
both the prime guarantor of
Jewish continuity and the
prism which colors our
entire self-understanding
as Jews, members of the
"family of .Israel" and
thereby enmeshed in a net-
work of mutual caring and
responsibility.
It is no secret that the
forces which over the past
several decades have radi-
cally altered the character
of family structure and
dynamics for many Ameri-
cans have penetrated the
Jewish community as well.
It is difficult to gather reli- -
able statistics (and more dif-
ficult sometimes to assess
their significance), but
Jewish demographers and
sociologists are generally
agreed that a number of
trends do characterize the
changing patterns in
Jewish family life today:
• Low birthrate —
likely at or below re-
placement level;
• Later and fewer mar-
riages;
• An increasing divorce
rate — together with the
trend toward fewer mar-
riages, this means an in-
crease in the number of
single Jewish adults;
• More intermarriages —
perhaps as many as 40 per-
cent of all Jewish mar-
riages;
• A decline in extended
families — greater physical
separation of the genera-
tions, and perhaps a les-
sened sense of intergenera-
tional solidarity as well;
• More families headed
by single parents;
• More
two-income
families — with more
women working outside the
home, this also means more
child care outside the home.
All of these trends in fam-
ily life have potentially
negative implications for
Jewish continuity. They
seem to point toward a
smaller Jewish population
and one less likely to af-
filiate with Jewish com-
munal institutions (given
what we know about those
factors which affect rates of
affiliation). In more basic
terms, these trends also
raise questions about the
capacity of Jewish families
to continue to serve as effec-
tive Jewish socializing
agents.
There does appear to be
some empirical evidence
that success in transmitting
Jewish identity and com-
mitment from generation to
generation is greater in
"traditional" families than
in those which depart from
the "norm." Thus, in sur-
veying changing patterns in
Jewish family life' there is
reason for anxiety among
those concerned with
Jewish continuity, but not

for despair.
Any attempt to respond
to the trends outlined
above must avoid both
nostalgia and narrow-
mindedness. There is no
likelihood that com-
munal action could re-
verse directly any of
these trends, nor is it
clear that we would wish
to do so in every case.
Certainly, an increased
role for women outside
the home and smaller
family size carry impor-
tant potential positive
implications for indi-
viduals and society as a
whole, and — I would
suggest — for Jewish life,
as well. Changing pat-
terns of family life indeed
pose new challenges, but
also new opportunities.
In truth, much of what we
take to be a "norm" for
Jewish family life repre-
sents only one stage in a
continuous process of evolv-
ing patterns. The problems
presented by today's trends
— to the physical and cul-
tural continuity of the
Jewish community and,
equally importantly, to the
personal fulfillment of those
affected by these trends —
demand a • supportive com-
munal response, focusing on
both dimensions of the chal-
lenge.
Fortunately, it is likely
that precisely those pro-
grams and projects which
most directly deal with the
needs of those family lives
do manifest new strains and
tensions, or who stand out-
side traditional family sys-
tems altogether, will also be
most successful in mitigat-
ing some of the negative
impacts of the new patterns
on the Jewish community as
a whole.
Many such programs and
projects are already in oper-
ation in some communities:
outreach programs for
single parents, single
adults, imtermarried
couples; havurot which can
help to recreate some of the
spirit of extended familism
and provide a support net-
work; Judaic enrichment
programs for families (fam-
ily retreats, holiday pro-
grams, parallel studies
projects); Jewish-sponsored
day care facilities; counsel-
ling services embracing
both psychological and
Jewish components.
The Jewish tradition
and Jewish community
do have a potentially im-
portant statement to
make in response to
changing patterns in
Jewish family life.
But that statement
must not be permitted to
remain a pious preach-
ment divorced from the
reality of the Jews who
today are more than ever
in need of the familial
concern of the Jewish
community for their total
well-being and self-
fulfillment.
Jewish families are
changing,
but those

Best wishes for a
happy, healthy
New Year

changes need not spell doom
for either the family or the
community. They can, in
fact, serve as the basis for a
new partnership between
individual Jews and Jewish
communal institutions
which will in the end enrich
both.

vanpn nal\3

Friday, September 9, 1983 95

rilt13`?

to all

our friends •

and relatives

CARY, SHERRY &
STACEY WOLF

MONIEK & RIWA MARGULIES

May the coming

year be filled

with health and

happiness for

all our family

and friends

IDA & ALAN NATHAN

Wishing all our family and
friends a year of
health and happiness

BRUCE & HEDY JACOBSON, SETH AND KAYLA

A Very Happy and Healthy
New Year to All Our Friends
and Family

LILLIAN & HARRY PAULL

A Very Happy and Healthy
New Year to All Our Friends
and Family

IRENE & BERNARD SCHLUSSEL

A Very Happy and Healthy
New Year to All Our Friends
and Family

THE SCHULTZ'S
KATHY, JEFF & BRIAN

A Very Happy and Healthy
New Year to All Our Friends
and Family

DR. & MRS.
MORRIS STARKMAN & FAMILY

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