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May 02, 2003 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-02

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This Week


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Soon-To-Be Majority?

Intermarried households may soon
dominate U.S. Jewish life.

30 00

L-v -1



Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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The Numbers

But Golin said the intermarriage num-
bers largely have been "misunderstood."
Any rate higher than 33 percent
means more intermarriages than in-

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


5/ 2

New York City
ouseholds with intermarried
Jews will soon dominate the
American Jewish landscape,
according to a new report.
A study by the Jewish Outreach
Institute in New York contends that
intermarried households may soon
become a majority of homes with one
or more Jews. What's more, the study
says, more children younger than 12
already belong to intermarried families
than to entirely Jewish families.
"If the creation of intermarried
households is not at the halfway mark,
it's clearly coming," said Paul Golin,
director of communications and
strategic planning for the institute and
author of the report.
The prediction comes as the Jewish
community awaits the release of the
2000-2001 National Jewish Population
Survey, which will update controversial
intermarriage findings from the last
survey in 1990. The 1990 survey found
that 52 percent of marriages involving
Jews. in the previous five years were to
non-Jews, while 28 percent of Jews
overall are married to non-Jews.
In the intervening years, responses
have ranged from efforts to stem inter-
marriage by strengthening Jewish iden-
tity to encouraging interfaith couples to
become more Jewishly active in hopes

that they will raise Jewish children.
The latest report, "The Coming
Majority: Suggested Action on
Intermarried Households," urges more
outreach as a way to shift the demo-
graphic tide.
"Interfaith marriage is not the end
of Jewish continuity — not raising
Jewish children is," said the institute's
executive director, Rabbi Kerry
Olitzky. "The challenge is not neces-
sarily in the rate; the challenge is in
the response."
The 1990 study sparked a flurry of
subsequent studies and reports on
intermarriage. Some of them chal-
lenged the 52 percent rate, while oth-
ers issued similar findings.
In one noted example, sociologist
Steven M. Cohen, professor at the
Melton Centre at Hebrew University
in Jerusalem, found that intermarriage
was closer to 40 percent. In 2000,
when the $6 million NJPS survey was
due to be issued, the Center for Jewish
Studies at the Graduate Center of the
City University of New York issued a
report using similar methodology that
found that 33 percent of Jews were
married to non-Jews.

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While the United Nations seeks to regain its influence in the Middle East fol-
lowing its inaction on Iraq (which resulted in the U.S.-led coalition's cam-
paign), it may be wise to remember that organization's history and current
standing in that region.


Recent U.N. moves, such as electing Syria, a terrorist-supporting state, to a •
two-year term on the Security Council, and elevating Libya, a country having

a poor human rights record, to the head of the U.N: Commission on Human
Rights, have been criticized. Add to that the United Nation's treatment-of .
Israel, the sole country denied entry - to a U.N. regional grouping until a few-
Israeli has reached a top secretari-
years ago. In the U.N.'s .58-year history,
at position on any U.N. body or agency. With this kind of
there's doubt it can play a constructive role in Middle .East peacemaking.

-= Allan Gale, Jewish Comnittnity Council ofMetropolitan Detroit

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