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Report Says Intermarried Jewish Households Will Soon Exceed “In-Married”

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
May-June 2003

Intermarriage rates in the American Jewish community point to a time when there will be more intermarried households than “in-married” households, a new report says.  

According to The Washington Post (May 3, 2003), the report, “The Coming Majority: Suggested Action on Intermarried Households for the Organized Jewish Community,” analyzes data from the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey and concludes that even if the intermarriage rate is lower than the 52 percent reported by the survey, intermarried Jewish households will soon be the majority.  

The findings were released by the New York-based Jewish Outreach Institute as researchers anticipate the release of the 2000-01 National Jewish Population Survey in coming months.  

The institute, which describes itself as “engaged in outreach to the unaffiliated with a special emphasis on intermarried families and their children,” suggests steps that Jewish institutions can take to try to ensure that intermarried families are involved in Jewish life. Included are such community-building suggestions as identifying role models of “successful” intermarriages and publicly thanking non-Jewish spouses who commit to raising children in the Jewish tradition.  

In May, Rabbi Sherwin Wine, the founder of Humanistic Judaism, spoke on the subject of intermarriage for Machar, the Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism.  

The Washington Jewish Week (April 24, 2003) reports: “High rates of inter-marriage make many Jews despair over American Jewry’s future. But Rabbi Sherwin Wine is optimistic ... He says that the conventional view - telling Jews to marry other Jews - makes anyone who does otherwise feel he or she has done something ‘less satisfactory.’ Thus, no matter how welcoming a congregation may be, an intermarried couple has already been ‘turned off.’ Instead, he believes that people should marry ‘whoever they choose to love.’ But he encourages Jews to introduce a non-Jewish spouse to the ‘beauties and wonders of Jewish culture ... I think Jewish culture is attractive, and it will be attractive to many people not born Jewish.’”  

In England, reports The Forward (May 2, 2003), “Some British rabbis have received a go-ahead to offer marriage blessings for mixed-faith couples in synagogues. The decision, approved by a rabbinic conference of the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues, allows rabbis at their own discretion to bless mixed marriages in public.”  

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