,4 • .•••••-7-••
Friday, September 6, 1985
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
We've been in
this business for
a Long Time ...
ciency replaced "heart" in
Jewish fund raising? Horowitz
says no, his critics say it's an
issue, and Silberman suggests a
wait and see approach.
The author is, as he concedes,
less reticent in attacking what
• he identifies as shoddy, mis-
leading scholarship. As updated
material about American Jewry
kept on coming in to Silberman
— some still unpublished — he
was astonished, and gratified, to
find that some of his more op-
timistic hunches, especially on
intermarriage and fertility, were
being borne out to an unex-
pected degree by newly verifi-
able facts. He has worked out a
simple, generally accepted model
for projecting national trends
from available data.
the business of
making your most
tested use of the 32 percent
figure because "the margin of
error and the nature of the
weighting system would be too
great," Silberman explained.
Even so, Dr. Robert Gordis,
writing on Jewish demography
in Midstream, cited the NJPS
figure, adding, "I know of no
convincing refutation." Says
Silberman:4,k That's a fascinating
reflection of American Jewish in-
sistence on pessimism."
Was he completely surprised
to discover such discrepancies in
widely quoted figures?
"I was somewhat suspicious,
but I had no reason to question
the data at first. Yet it did occur
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10 CREATE ITS FRESHEST COFFEE EVER,
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"When the scholarly data
coincides with your journalistic
instincts, it's nirvana," Silber-
man admitted. ."Data that con-
firmed judgements I had earlier
made as a journalist just became
available in the last six to 12
months — another reason for
delaying the book."
First of all,- said Silberman,
"our level of intermarriage is a
lot lower than has generally been
seen; it was about 24 to 25 per-
cent in 1981. There has been a
rise of about Gne percentage
point per year since 1971, but
there are indications that the in-
crease has about run its course
and may be stabilizing."
It's not that problems of inter-
marriage don't exist, but the ac-
tual figures are far, far below the
40-60 percent firgure that has
commonly been bandied about.
"Yes, intermarriage has increas-
ed, but it hasn't gone through
the roof," Silberman , said.
"One figure on which all pro- ,
jections had been based had
been the National Jewish Popu-
lation Survey (NJPS) in 1977,
which said that intermarriage
had jumped to 32 percent be-
tween 1966 and 1977. It turns
out that that figure had been
to me that the 32 percent figure
made no sense. What that figure
was saying was that in a ten
year period, intermarriage had
increased five and a half times.
Human behavior just doesn't
change that radically that quick-
ly. It just defies human com-
The same thing was true in
terms of the Jewish birthrate.
"When I was lecturing a few
years ago," Silberman recalled,
"I used to start by - saying, 'I
have good news and bad news.
The good news is that aftvival
of Jewish religious and cultural
4t „ life is in progress. The bad news
is that there might not be
enough Jews around to sustain
"I was wrong," he said.
There was indeed a change in
the Jewish birthrate in the 1960s
and 1970s. People abruptly
postponed the time at which
they married and the time at
Time is the enemy of all things fresh.
And, of course, ground coffee is no
Recognizing that freshness is fleeting,
Maxwell House set out to cut down the
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doing so, they have successfully created
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which they had children. A
statistical "quirk," tnuse Silber- "
Demographers have always
assumed that when childbirth is
postponed, there will be fewer
children. Demographers during
the past decade have therefore
been predicting a Jewish fertili-
ty rate of between 1.2 and 1.5
children per couple, but it didn't
out that way. Women who
based on only 83 cases nation-
wide. Bernard Lazerwitz, the - waited until 30 or later to have
children had them quickly
demographer in charges of their
NJPS sampling, formally pro- • Continued on next page
THE STORY SO FAR. 7fI L
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