The 2000 National Jewish Population Survey, which was conducted
last year, expects to release its results some time in the next six
to nine months. One of the most controversial findings of the
previous survey conducted in 1990 was the 52% intermarriage
rate it reported. The new results are planned to follow a system
intended to clear up some of the controversy.
The new results are supposed to calculate to separate intermarriage
rates: one rate will
reflect the marriages of people who consider themselves
Jewish and do not practice another religion.
The other intemarriage rate will be calculated the same way the rate was in 1990,
that is, also including people who were born to a Jewish parent but tell
pollsters they practice another religion and do not consider
themselves Jewish. The latter group obviously has a very high
The 52% figure became a rallying cry
through 1990s, causing a shift in Jewish communal
spending and energy toward efforts aimed at discouraging
A taste of the debates that are bound to follow the release
of the 2000 NJPS may be seen in the discussion of a new study
released earlier this month, modeled on the 1990 NJPS, entitled
the American Jewish Identity Survey (AJIS
2001), which indicates that the rate of intermarriage among
America's Jewish adults remained steady in the last
decade at the rate reported in the 1990 NJPS.
The AJIS 2001 found an intermarriage rate of 51% for the
period from 1990 to 2001. That figure includes people with
Jewish parents who do not consider themselves Jewish.
The new study shows that the overall proportion of Jews married to non-Jews
has gone from 28% in 1990 to 37% today. The study also found that
eight out of 10 unmarried Jews have non-Jewish partners.
AJIS 2001 was conducted last spring and released this month
by the Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Center of
the City University of New York. The authors are Barry
Kosmin, who headed the 1990 NJPS and now directs a London-
based Jewish think-tank, and Egon Mayer and Ariela Kayser,
both members of the advisory committee for the 2000
Mr. Mayer said that to avoid the controversy that clouded the
1990 results, "we are going through great torture and pains
to make absolutely clear" that those being polled include
born Jews who practice Judaism; born Jews who profess to have
no religion, and born Jews who converted out.
Mr. Mayer directs the CUNY Graduate Center for Jewish
Mr. Sheskin said that if the intermarriage rate had been
calculated for the group called "Core Jews" in 1990,
excluding those who say they are not Jewish or who practice
another religion, the rate would sink to 43%.
Mr. Sheskin's community studies consistently show local rates
of intermarriage well below 51% or 52%, even for the most
assimilated Jewish communities.