Study finds right-wing alumni are more likely to marry a Jew telling some lies

NEW YORK – Those who travel to Israel with a birthright are more likely to stand under the wing of a wedding with another Jew, according to a recently released study.

Recognized as the Jewish Futures Project, the study showed that 55 percent of those who took a 10-day free trip to Israel had a Jewish spouse with a birthright, compared to 39 percent of those who did not. participate. The research also showed that birthright partners were more likely to raise Jewish children and remain connected to Judaism.

And while there is no controversy about the study’s findings, it has become a Rorschach experiment of all kinds. Proponents of vocalism for justice say that the study confirms a long-term study that the knowledge of the birthright strengthens one’s connection to Judaism. In contrast, those in the interfaith community said that the study telegraph is a message that marriages between two Jews are more desirable than those of different faiths.

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“What really struck me about the report is that it looks at Jewish commitment through the lens of just one thing – marriage,” said Rabbi Deborah Reichmann, rabbi and spiritual advisor for the Interfaith Family Project in Washington, DC . Doing so neglects everything else about what it means to have a Jewish identity. He perpetuates the stereotype that intermarriage is the worst thing a jewel can do. ”

Photo: Taglit Birthright participants visit the West Wall in Jerusalem’s Old Town on August 18, 2014. (Flash90)

Leonard Saxe, director of Brandeis ’Cohen Center for Jewish Modernism, wants to be different. As the study’s lead investigator, Saxe said reading the results as a conviction for interfaith marriage misses the point of the study.

“It’s only a matter of if you have a serious concern about it. No judgment is assigned to him. There was nothing prescribed about it, ”said Saxe. “In terms of engagement it’s just a fact that it’s lower among intermarriage couples.”

Dr. Leonard Saxe, director of Brandeis ’Cohen Center for Jewish Modernism and principal investigator of the study. (With permission)

The study, which was 20 years in the making, used survey data collected from 2,477 people taken over in the second half of 2019 who applied for a birthright between 2001 and 2009. It compared people who went on the trips to those who submitted but were not accepted. At the time of the study, the program was open to Jewish adults ages 18 to 26.

Saxe said the researchers focused on marriage simply because marriage is a good measure of how connected a person is to their Jewish identity. He stressed that no one should conclude from the study that intermarriage is taking people away from Judaism.

“People do not need a Jewish partner, or two Jewish parents, to engage in Jewish life. Interfaith families raise children who are involved in Jews, ”he said.

In fact, the birthright made it possible for children of interfaith marriages to go to Israel, Saxe said, adding that 20% of birthright partners today are children of interfaith marriages. .

Eric Fingerhut, president and President of the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA), was surprised by the negative response to the study.

Young American Attendees Participate in a Judicial Event in Jerusalem (photo: Dudi Vaknin / Flash90)

Illustrative. Young Americans take part in a birthright event in Jerusalem. (Dudi Vaknin / Flash90)

“All of these studies say when you are immersed in a progressive Jewish experience [such as Birthright] you are more likely to meet and fall in love with someone who is Jewish – and that is a positive part of the program, ”said Fingerhut.

Four out of 10 Americans, or 39%, are married to someone who is from a different religious group, according to the Pew Research Center. It is estimated that 72% of non-rectangles marry someone who is not Jewish, according to Pew.

Eric Fingerhut, President and President of the Jewish Federation of North America. (Courtesy of JFNA)

It is simply because the numbers of interfaith marriages continue to rise that Susan Katz Miller is finally getting the marriage issue to an end.

“There is a small circle of long-term researchers who continue to see interfaith marriage as a loss to the Jewish community. That group of work using interfaith marriage as a sign of separation from Judaism is very ancient, ”said Katz Miller, who wrote two books on interfaith marriage.

Author Susan Katz Miller. (Photos by Stephanie Williams)

A recent study of interfaith couples by the interfaith group 18Doors and the Benenson Strategy Group found that more than half of those who said they were not currently involved in Jewish life wanted to engage – but had not yet found the right way. Other respondents said they felt that communities in their area did not accept interfaith couples.

To correct that, Katz Miller and others said Jewish institutions need to do more to reach out and help those in interfaith marriages celebrate life-cycle events such as weddings and funerals.

“We are all part of an extended interfaith family at this stage. Soon, more than half of the young rabbits, cantors, religious educators, will all be interfaith children, ”said Katz Miller. “Advanced Jewish institutions must allow the ordering of rabbits in interfaith relations, and must allow rabbits to perform interfaith life-cycle performances, if they do not wish to expand the progressive Jewish community. “

The study also looked at long-term contact with Jewish life.
According to the study, because birthright partners are more likely to partner with others, they are more likely to raise their eldest child, surround their eldest son, stay connected to Israel , being members of a synagogue, volunteering for Jewish or Israeli causes, you have Jewish friends, celebrate Jewish holidays and attend Jewish religious services.

Soon, more than half of the young rabbits, cantors, religious educators, will all become interfaith children

According to the Pew Research Center, 27% of young adults in the Millennial generation, those born between 1981 and 1996, said they grew up in a mixed-faith family.

“It is clear that even a Jewish parent influences Jewish identity and participation, and we should encourage that. We need to create pathways that allow interfaith and Jewish families to participate in our communities, ”said Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, who is co-head of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) and the Rabbinical Senate .

Illustration of birthright partners visiting Masada, summer 2012. (Taglit-Birthright / JTA)

To that end, USCJ rabbits operate in a variety of settings – including congregations, camps, and summer camps – where they meet interfaith couples and their children, Blumenthal said. He said the group strives to create opportunities to participate in synagogue life, ritual experiences, and education.

“Our USCJ congregations are more welcoming than ever, and many allow full membership and leadership positions to be given to loving partners of other faiths and backgrounds. Our rabbits have ceremonies or reception ceremonies before or after marriage to consecrate a Jewish home, as well as inclusive rites for a number of life-cycle events, ”said Blumenthal.

In addition, there are educational curricula, such as the Introduction to Miller Judaism Program supported by the American Jewish University, that are used throughout North America to help people from other backgrounds learn about it. and to be more comfortable in Jewish situations, he said.

Rabbi Deborah Reichmann, rabbi and spiritual counselor for Interfaith Family Project, Washington, DC. (With permission)

However, Reichmann said she found the way in which the study examined Jewish communication lacked nuance. She neglects those in interfaith marriages who volunteer for non-Jewish groups and who celebrate both Jewish and other holidays, she said. Jewish people express Judaism and Judaism in many other ways than by marrying another Jew and having Jewish children, Reichmann said.

“People could volunteer for environmental groups or social justice groups. They may be involved in their school. They do tikkun olam in their own way, “Reichmann said, using the popular Hebrew phrase for” the repair of the world. “

In his previous role as president of the Greater Boston Confederation Jewish philanthropy, Barry Shrage worked to strengthen the synagogues ’commitment to interfaith families.

“At the heart of my work are matters of Jewish identity. We were the first alliance to support access for interfaith families, ”said Shrage, who is now a practicing Professor in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University.

Ultimately, Shrage said, their removal from the study should not marry who they are, but that a trip to Israel has a lasting effect.

“The data from the study is clear on that, but the last thing in the world that it says to be a good Jew is that you have to marry someone who is Jewish,” he said. Recognizing with the Jews and developing a love for the Jewish people. It’s about reaching out to marginalized Jewish people. “