Jewish Journal

Worry About Intermarriage a Third Less?

by Pini Herman

November 30, 2011 | 4:50 pm

Two Views of the Same Newlyweds

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

Jewish1 Inmarriage1
Jewish2 Inmarriage1
Jewish3 Inmarriage2
Jewish4 Inmarriage2
Jewish5 Inmarriage3
Jewish6 Inmarriage3
Jewish7 Inmarriage4
Jewish8 Inmarriage4
Jewish9 Inmarriage5
Jewish10 Inmarriage5
Jewish11 Inmarriage6
Jewish12 Inmarriage6
Jewish13 Inmarriage7
Jewish14 Inmarriage7
Jewish15       Outmarriage1
non-Jewish1 Outmarriage1
Jewish16     Outmarriage2
non-Jewish2 Outmarriage2
Jewish17       Outmarriage3
non-Jewish3 Outmarriage3
Jewish18       Outmarriage4
non-Jewish4 Outmarriage4
Jewish19       Outmarriage5
non-Jewish5 Outmarriage5
Jewish20       Outmarriage6
non-Jewish6 Outmarriage6
Jewish21       Outmarriage7
non-Jewish7 Outmarriage7

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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