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June 20, 2003 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-20

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This Week

• Most poor Jewish homes — 96,000 — were in
New York City. William Rapfogel, chief executive
officer of New York's Metropolitan Council on
Jewish Poverty, said perhaps even more than one-
third of New York Jews may qualify as poor, because
many more people have lost their jobs in the eco-
nomic fallout following the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001.
"There was a lot of skepticism" when the council
said 145,000 New York Jews qualify for government
assistance and another 275,000 are classified by fed-
eral guidelines as near-poor, Rapfogel said. "This
should cure some of that skepticism."
Another likely area of contention is intermarriage,
has proven especially controversial since the
eration umbrella, which bankrolled the $6 million
1990 NJPS found that 52 percent of Jews who mar-
NJPS, said this week that an independent panel was
still reviewing the study, and that it was not likely to ried in the previous five years had married out of the
faith. The New York study used two figures: the per-
be presented before September.
centage of individual Jews who married out of the
faith and the share of couples who are intermarried.
While many studies focus on the rate of Jewish
New York Figures
individuals intermarrying, Ukeles said it is more
The New York researchers say the nation's biggest
important to examine the share of intermarried
Jewish community displays some singular character-
Jewish couples, because "we see the household as the
istics. New York has the largest populations of
crucial building block in the Jewish community."
Orthodox and Russian-speaking Jews in the United
The study found that 22 percent of marriages over
States, the study found.
In addition, the total Jewish population of 1,412,000 the past decade involving Jews had been interfaith
marriages, but that reflected only 13 percent of all
is close to the 1,420,000 found in 1991, showing that
New York Jews.
the community remained steady in a period of change
In addition, the study found that synagogue affili-
nationwide, Ukeles said. "At a time when people expect
ation dropped among the intermarried. While 63
the word 'decline' to be bracketed with the word
percent of in-married Jews said they belonged to a
`Jewish,' we found a period of stability," he said.
synagogue, only 16 percent of intermarried Jewish
The report's conclusions on poverty are likely to
homes did. That compares to 44 percent of homes
generate debate:
with a converted spouse.
• Of all New York Jewish households, the study
While 83 percent of Jewish households said they
found that 10 percent live below federal poverty
are raising their children as Jews, only 30 percent of
guidelines, which are based on salary, number of
intermarried households said they are doing so,
people per home and other factors. An additional 6
48 percent are raising their children as non-
percent live at 150 percent of those standards;
that regard, New York's interfaith couples

resenting 16 percent of all Jewish homes, or 226,000 reflect national trends, said Paul Golin, spokesman
for the New York-based Jewish Outreach Institute.
people. Of those homes, 91 percent include a
Some, however, called the study's methods into ques-
Russian-speaking person aged 65 or older;

Poverty Jumps

The number of Jewish poor in New York
climbs in 10 years.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

New York City
ewish poverty in greater New York has dou-
bled in the past decade to 21 percent of the
community, while the number of Jews in
Manhattan fell 5 percent to 972,000, the
lowest level in a century, a new study shows.
The figures — which show one in six Jewish
homes in the New York area living in poverty — are
"shocking," said Alisa Rubin Kurshan, vice president
of the UJA-Federation of New York, which funded
the Jewish Community Study of New York. It was
released this week.
This "will help shatter the myth of Jewish afflu-
ence," said Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the New
York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.
Thanks in part to suburban flight and a major influx
of Russian-speaking Jews, the Jewish population in the
wider metropolitan area remained steady at 1.4 mil-
lion, or 643,000 households.
Even as it was released, however, the report
already was embroiled in a "Who is a Jew?" dispute
among researchers. Three members of the study's
10-person advisory panel objected to the methodol-
ogy. Two resigned from the panel long before it was
issued, and one demanded that her name be
removed from the report.
Bethamie Horowitz, who directed the last study of
New York Jewry, which was conducted in 1991 and
released in 1992, said this report did not follow the same
research methods as the earlier report. Direct compar-
isons between the two should not be made, she warned.
The difference between the two studies, Horowitz Jerusalem/JTA — The killings that
threatened to scuttle the road map
said, "is not apples to elephants, but it's not apples
peace plan last week seem to have
to apples either."
The report on eight New York counties sheds new had quite a different result. They
have redoubled the resolve of
light on the nation's largest Jewish community,
Israeli and Palestinian
which includes a rising Orthodox sector that is the
largest nationwide, and which saw the percentage of leaders to prevent terrorism from
intermarried couples drop by 10 percent since 1991. wrecking the reconciliation process.
In a desperate effort to salvage
With the total U.S. Jewish population estimated
the process amid deadly violence,
at 5.2 million to 6.7 million people, the New York
the Americans, Israelis and
report "delivers good data about one-fifth to one-
Palestinians have been exerting
quarter of the national Jewish community," said
pressure on Hamas, third parties
Jacob Ukeles, the study's principal investigator.
and each other. It now seems pos-
The $860,000 report was released around the
sible that that pressure could lead
same time the long-awaited 2000-01 National
Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) was expected to be to a cease-fire.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
published. But that overall study of American Jewry
maintains that Israel's decision to tar-
has been beset by unexplained delays and technical
get Hamas leaders like Abdel al-Aziz
glitches, generating considerable controversy.
Rantissi on June 10 yielded two divi-
Officials of the United Jewish Communities' fed-


Pursuit Of Road Map May Emerge From Violence

dends: It forced Palestinian terrorist
groups to consider a temporary
cease-fire with Israel more seriously,
and it pushed Palestinian Authority
Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas
closer to taking immediate responsi-
bility for security in some of the
Palestinian areas.
Abbas had hoped to wait several
months before taking over securi-
ty responsibility, allowing the
Palestinian Authority to rebuild
its armed forces.
Abbas also had hoped waiting
would enable him to convince
Hamas and other terrorist groups
to declare a cease-fire in the
meantime, thereby ducking a con-
frontation with those.
But the strike against Rantissi,

and Israel's strikes against other
leading Hamas members in subse-
quent days, truncated the
timetable. Feeling their own lives
threatened, Hamas leaders resumed
talks on an immediate cease-fire.
Abbas wanted to see the military
strikes stopped quickly, too. If
they continued, Abbas risked
being accused of failure and forced
out of office. On the other hand,
the U.S. said it would underwrite
an Israeli pledge to halt the strikes
if Abbas took security responsibili-
ty for some Palestinian areas.
Such a move could save not
only Abbas' job, but also the
peace process he has been charged
with pursuing.
— Leslie Susser, JTA

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