Posted by Pini Herman
When a couple where both partners are Jewish send their kids off to college, some worry that the children will ultimately marry someone not Jewish. Often through folk wisdom or folk demography they mistakenly feel that likely as not their child their child has a 50% or greater chance of initially marrying someone not Jewish. According to Bruce Phillips, that’s not accurate.
The most recent NJPS cohort studied in 2000 of Jews marrying for the first time and having two Jewish parents, only a third married non-Jews. But, then how is it that if lets say out of 21 first time Jewish newlyweds who invited you to their wedding, 50 percent of the weddings are to a non-Jew?
Creating 7 weddings of the ”Jew marrying a Jew” type requires 14 Jews. Creating 7 weddings of the “Jew marrying a non-Jew” requires only 7 Jews and 7 non-Jews.
So, its likely that the intermarriage preoccupied in-married Jewish parent has more than an even chance that their child will bring home a nice Jewish boy or girl.
The following illustrates how it takes 21 Jews and 7 non-Jews to create 7 in-marriages and 7 out-marriages:
Type of Marriage
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November 21, 2011 | 3:31 pm
Posted by Pini Herman
My colleague, Bruce Phillips, published a blog demonstrating that proportion Jews first marrying a non-Jew at the time of the last National Jewish Population Survey in 2000-1 declined.
Lots of finger-pointing when Intermarriage was found to be up in the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey. It spawned lots of ink and talking heads about the disappearance of the non-Orthodox US Jewish community.
Jewish intermarriage going down? If that’s actually the case then there should be no lack of Jewish organizations clamoring for credit for the decline of the Jewish intermarriage rate.
Did Birthright’s 200,000 young North Americans who received the gift of a free trip to Israel marry other Jews? Since Birthright trips only began in 2000 and Jews marrying out was declining before that, the intermarriage decline seems to have happened before the Israel trips.
Perhaps an especially large Orthodox cohort of the marriage-aged children of Orthodox baby boomer married for the first time prior to the 2000-1 NJPS.
Perhaps the robust array of pre-2000 Jewish communal services, such as synagogues, JCCs, Jewish camps, Jewish educational organizations, etc. has had an effect in reducing the tendency for intermarriage for the newest of first time marriages.
Perhaps the increasing academic and professional attainment of Jewish women that began before the Millennium had them going to higher education in a manner more similar to the historical pattern of Jewish men and that may put them into close enough physical proximity to each other to increase the Jewish in-marriage rate.
Perhaps younger Jews have stronger Jewish educational opportunities than earlier cohorts did and its bearing fruit.
We may never know why Jewish intermarriage declined or whether it continues to decline because the future of the National Jewish Population Survey is in question. It is already a year overdue and no plans to undertake one in the near future have been publicized.
November 15, 2011 | 5:08 pm
Posted by Bruce Phillips
Going all the way back to the first National Jewish Population Survey of 1970-71, no finding has elicited more disputation than the “intermarriage rate.” The world of Jewish demography typically measures intermarriage using a different metric than is typical among demographers that study interracial marriage. The report of the 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey, which used all current marriages, found an unrelenting increase in intermarriage.
This approach is problematic (and out of synch with the larger field of demography) for three reasons. First, using current marriages eliminates marriages that have dissolved. Second, demographers look at first marriages as the best way to measure trends. By including second and third marriages in the intermarriage rate, the NJPS report mixes in the first marriages of 30 year olds with the second marriages of forty and fifty-somethings. Third, demographers typically eliminate mixed-race persons from the measurement of interracial marriage because they are not sure which racial category applies. In this case of the Jews, this means persons with one Jewish and one non-Jewish parent. Persons with one Jewish parent are apples to the oranges that are persons with two Jewish parents.
So how would intermarriage look using the more typical metrics found in demography? Figure 2 uses first marriages only so that comparisons across time periods are consistent and meaningful. It also differentiates between the first marriages of persons of mixed Jewish ancestry and those of persons with two Jewish parents. Since the 1960s, persons of mixed Jewish ancestry (the top line in figure 2) consistently married non-Jews at rates exceeding 80 percent. Intermarriage among persons with two Jewish parents shows a different pattern: the intermarriage rate leveled actually decreased in the 1990s among Jews with two Jewish parents.
How could that be? Was this just a statistical fluke? Maybe not: A closer look revealed that more of them were exposed to Jewish day school, Jewish summer camp, Jewish youth group, and/or a trip to Israel than their counterparts who married for the first time in the 1980s. The best confirmation of this finding would be a 2010 NJPS that could show whether or not this trend held up ten years later, but that is not to be. The Jewish Federations of North America have decided that questions such as these are either not important or not part of their “national leadership” portfolio.
November 7, 2011 | 1:22 pm
Posted by Pini Herman
The ADL just released a poll, ongoing for over 50 years, finding anti-Semitic attitudes on the rise in America. Shmuel Rosner points out that depending on the year of the ongoing ADL anti-Semitism survey is compared to one could easily say some anti-Semitic attitudes were going down. Random variation may be trumpeted as rising anti-Semitism when it goes up and ignored when it trends downward.
The ADL assiduously gathers police and news reports of anti-Semitic incidents. Increases of anti-Semitism are heralded in the local and national press while declines don’t seem to be news. The undue stress on the anti-Semitic attitudes of non-Jews by the organized Jewish community has long been a topic of Jewish communal discussion.
Jewish population surveys ask Jews about their experiences with anti-Semitism and this approach can be much more useful in gauging the dimensions of the phenomenon and proceeding towards practical remedies.
The 1997 LA Jewish Population Survey found that 27 percent of the respondents had reported personally experiencing anti-Semitism in the past five years with half of these people saying that the experience was “being singled out unfavorably as “Jewish.”
In LA, intermarried Jews reported high levels of anti-Semitic experiences (37 percent) as compared to in-married Jews (19 percent). This finding shouldn’t be surprising to married people who have experienced arguments which got out of hand and unpleasant experiences with extended families.
I have yet to see one advocate for Jewish in-marriage in the organized Jewish community make the public argument that if a Jew wants to personally avoid experiencing anti-Semitism, marrying another Jew would be a good idea.