Jewish Journal

Marry Jewish, Avoid Anti-Semitism

by Pini Herman

November 7, 2011 | 12:22 pm

Shylock and Jessica

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.

Pini Herman is immediate past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. To email Pini: pini00003@gmail.com

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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