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January 24, 2008 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-01-24

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"Home is where
you lay your

Intermarriage from page A28

Philanthropies study comes into play.
Gil Preuss, vice president for strategy
and planning, says the organization
is less interested in debating research
methods than in examining the real
effect of community investment in
outreach and Jewish education in
The CJP caused a stir in November
2006 when it released a study by the
Steinhardt Institute showing that in
the Boston area, 60 percent of children
from intermarried homes were being
raised as Jews.
Preuss admits that he and his col-
leagues were
initially suspicious
of those figures.
What did that
really mean? Are
these people really
engaged in Jewish
life, or just say-
ing so, perhaps
because this was a
Rabbi Olitzky
Jewish survey?
So he and his
team investi-
gated the data, looking closely at the
responses to specific questions about
Jewish beliefs and behaviors. Preuss
says they found that intermarried fam-
ilies who have decided to raise their
kids Jewishly look pretty much like
other, non-Orthodox Jewish families
"They belong to congregations, they
celebrate Jewish holidays, they partici-
pate in the community:' he said. "That
is the key decision — whether you
decide to raise the kids Jewish. All else

follows from that!'
Intermarriage itself, the study sug-
gests, is not the determining factor.

Future Actions
This conclusion has policy implica-
tions, Preuss says.
"This provides a basis for the notion
that we need to create a community
that welcomes them in, that says, look,
there's something good here — Jewish
values, Jewish learning:' he said.
Indeed, when it comes to policy rec-
ommendations, all those interviewed
for this article favor the same thing:
Increasing communal investment in
Jewish life, and making it easier and
more attractive for the unaffiliated and
intermarried to enter and engage with
Jewish institutions.
That's the point, says Rabbi Kerry
Olitzky, the director of the Jewish
Outreach Institute, an organization
that encourages Jewish institutions to
be more welcoming.
It's not always possible to draw clear
conclusions from the data, he says.
"In one community you can have
intermarrieds with a robust Jewish
identity and family upbringing next to
intermarrieds who are not involved in
the Jewish community': he said.
It comes down to what individu-
als believe will help them lead better,
richer lives.
"When you're a parent:' Olitzky said,
you make decision on the basis of
what's good for you and your family,
not what's good for the Jewish com-
munity." ❑

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Judaism and its Distortions!' The
at Congregation B'nai Moshe in West panel will consist of Don Cohen,
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the director of the Great
the Friday night congre-
Lakes Region of B'nai B'rith
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annual Men's Club World
the executive director of the
Wide Wrap.
Dove Institute in Southfield;
After services begin-
and Jonathan Harris, director
ning at 5:45 p.m. and a
of StandWithUs-Michigan.
congregational dinner
These programs are open
Friday, Feb. 1, Rabbi
to the community; there is
Rabbi Sk obac
Michael Skobac of Jews
a charge for dinner Friday
for Judaism, Toronto, will
evening (reservations will not
be the featured speaker
be accepted after Jan. 28) and
on the topic "Countering Messianic
reservations are also requested for
Jews-Missionary Impossible!'
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At 9 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, the annu-
For information, go to: www.bnai-
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moshe.org and scroll down to the It's
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January 24 2008


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