Half of Reform Jews marry Jews, compared with nearly three-quarters of Conservative Jews and 98 percent of Orthodox Jews.And here’s the weightiest of Pew’s statistics for those wary of intermarriage: While 96 percent of Jews married to Jews are raising their children in the Jewish faith, just 20 percent of Jews married to non-Jews are.
Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella group of traditional Orthodox Jews, said that beyond the prohibition against intermarriage in Jewish law, almost all Jews understand that the children of Jews and non-Jews are often not raised to have Jewish identities.“It’s unfortunate — no, tragic — that in an attempt to remain relevant, various non-Orthodox Jewish groups have opted to either accept or even encourage intermarriage,” Shafran said.Many of those who survived moved to the United States, which now is home to the second largest Jewish population in the world.(Israel has the largest.) For a number of reasons – some practical, others emotional – there was a lot of pressure in the years that followed for Jewish children to only date and marry other Jews.“I’m asking all of our sons and daughters and whomever they have chosen as their life partners: ‘Please come back home,'” Gardenswartz said.
The thought of one Jewish person dating another Jewish person seems simple and straightforward, but sometimes it’s not!
In a religion whose adherents number fewer than 15 million worldwide, which lost 6 million souls during the Holocaust, and whose children feel increasingly free to choose whether or not they will produce a next generation of committed Jews, any changes regarding dating and marriage can be fraught with anxiety and emotion.
She and other leaders of the movement reject the idea that the recent events undermined this tenet of Conservative Judaism, which stands between the more progressive Reform and more traditional Orthodox movements in its interpretation of Jewish law.
But not everyone is so convinced that the teens’ vote and the demise of Gardenswartz’s proposal simply reinforce the status quo.
In various corners of the Conservative community, it appears as if some are mulling — for better or worse — a loosening of the rules that govern dating and marriage.
As he put it, an increasing number of Jews are recognizing that “intermarriage is a fact of life, as gravity is.” In the 1970s, when large numbers of American Jews began choosing non-Jewish partners, the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis maintained its official opposition to intermarriage but decided to allow its rabbis to choose for themselves whether to preside at such weddings.