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December 11, 1987 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-12-11

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Study: Reform Judaism
Gets Mixed Blessing


• Eighty-three percent of
the respondents attended
synagogue services at least
once a month, more than dou-
ble the frequency of atten-
dance of their parents.
Asked to evaluate their own
and their children's Jewish
activities, the survey par-
ticipants cited experiences in
Israel as the most important
positive element in Jewish
• Almost one-third of the
married children of the
respondents in the survey
were married to non-Jews.
That figure represents a ten-
fold increase in the rate of in-
termarriage in a single
generation, based on a com-
parison with findings in an
earlier, more limited study 20
years ago.
Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk,
president of the Hebrew
Union College-Jewish In-
stitute of Religion, spoke of "a
real stirring in terms of com-
mitment, emotion and
religious lifestyle," but said
he was not surprised by the
leaders' comparative leniency
on intermarriage.
"The intermarriage phe-
nomenon is splitting the
Jewish world," said Gott-
schalk. "The dilemma is at-
traction or repulsion. By
repulsing the couple, possibly
you stop them from marrying
in the first place. Or by
welcoming the couple, you
have at least entertained the
possibility that the non-
Jewish partner will convert?'
Gottschalk said the study
indicates a need for what he
calls "midway houses," or ef-
forts made- by a congregation
to integrate an inter-married
couple into synagogue life.
The study also indicated, he
said, that there is a tendency
in second marriages for born
Jews to marry non-Jews. He
called for intense singles pro-
gramming to "help those
remarrying find mates?'
Another area of concern
shared by a number of of-
ficials interviewed was the
decline in so-called "associa-
tional" ties between Jews.
Said study co-author
Seltzer: "It's great to attend
synagogue, light candles. It's
wonderful. But to do that and
not number many Jewish
friends, not live in
neighborhoods with other
Jews, and become only
minimally involved in Jewish
communal issues sends
dangerous signals. It puts a
face on the Jewish communi-
ty that is quite questionable?'

New York — A recent study
of Reform Jews finds that the
leaders are more religiously
committed than their parents
are. But among the troubling
questions posed by the survey
is: Will those leaders be able
to transfer that commitment
to the next generation?
According to the study, con-
ducted by the Research Task
Force on the Future of Reform
Judaism and released last
month, Reform congrega-
tional leaders are more com-
mitted than their parents to
Jewish study and practice in
nearly every category — from
attending synagogue to
lighting Shabbat candles to
attending adult education
classes — with the exception
of keeping kosher.
Yet, Reform officials are
concerned that the study
finds the leaders are socializ-
ing with too few Jews and do
not feel sufficient concern
about their children dating
Although a majority of the
2,000 leaders surveyed said
they opposed intermarriage,
83 percent answered that
they either permitted, did not
forbid, or expressed no opposi-
tion to interdating. Only four
percent of the respondents
said they do not permit their-
children to date non-Jews.
In addition, the leaders wer
split nearly evenly, 46 percent
con and 45 percent pro, on
whether a rabbi should of-
ficiate at a mixed marriage.
"The trend seems to be a
welcome involvement . in a
synagogue life and obser-
vance. But there is a lack of
real concern about inter-
dating and a tendency not to
see intermarriage as a real
threat to Jewish survival,"
said Rabbi Sanford Seltzer, -
the director of research of the
Union of American Hebrew
Congregations, the Reform
congregational organization,
and a co-author of the study.
The respondents ranged in
age from 21 to 60 and older.
Sixty percent were female, 40
percent were male. Chosen by
congregations or sisterhoods
to reprsent them at the
UAHC's 1985 biennial con-
vention, they are not
representative of the rank
and file of the Reform move-
ment, according to Rabbi
Mark Winer, senior rabbi of
the Jewish Community.
Center of White Plains, N.Y.,
and director of the Research
Task Force.
Among the findings:
Jewish Telegraphic Agency




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