Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Teves 5762 - December 19, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











New Studies Try to Count All and Only Jews
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

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 intermarriage rate.

The 52% figure became a rallying cry through 1990s, causing a shift in Jewish communal spending and energy toward efforts aimed at discouraging interfaith marriage.

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 survey.

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 Studies.

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.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.