Even in Canada

Back in January I was contacted by a staff member of the United Israel Appeal Federations Canada (UIA) who was researching international best practices for outreach to underserved members of Jewish communities, including interfaith couples. I gave her a lot of information about outreach programs in the US. I remember thinking at the time that things must be changing in Canada, which traditionally has had lower rates of intermarriages.

A new study by UIA verifies that that is the case. It reports that by 2021 “2/5 of the largest communities in Canada are projected to have intermarriage rates above 50% and over 1/3 of all individuals residing in couples families will be living in interfaith arrangements.”

The report also states, “It is incumbent upon Jewish communal institutions to strongly consider facilitating the participation of interfaith couples.  . . . if the organized community can accept intermarried couples and their children through the institutions of the synagogue, school, daycare, and other community-oriented programs, then there is a greater likelihood that they will choose to be Jewish.”

Given how behind the Canadian Jewish community has been in having to address intermarriage, I was amazed that the UIA report says that one area where the organized Jewish community can make a difference is in rabbinic officiation at weddings of interfaith couples: “Having a Rabbi officiate at an interfaith ceremony is extremely important to the likelihood of future participation in Jewish life. In fact, 50% of interfaith couples married by a Rabbi indicated that it is important to them that their eventual grandchildren are raised Jewish as opposed to 18% when no Rabbi officiated at their wedding ceremony.”

And I was glad to see making resources readily available for interfaith couples on websites as another of their recommended actions.

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One thought on “Even in Canada

  1. Dear Ed:

    It’s the magic “50%” number.

    The U.S. Jewish community did very little for interfaith couples until the U.S. intermarriage rate surged over 50% in the early 1990s. All of a sudden, the U.S. Jewish community became massively interested in interfaith families.

    They’d been ignoring outreach activists, including myself, for years until the magic “50%” number was reached.

    The same thing has now happened in Canada.

    I don’t know what it is about “50%” — you’d think “30%” or “40%” would be just as alarming to them.

    I predict the same thing will happen when the adult children of intermarriage become “”50%” of all college age Jews. Right now we are said to be “48%” of all college age Jews, and still ignored.

    I predict the minute an official Jewish study says that we are “50%” of all college age Jews there will be a sudden surge of interest in us.

    What I have never understood is: why wait until the magic “50%” number is reached? It means thousands of interfaith couples and adult children and other descendants of intermarriage are lost to Judaism before the “50%” number is reached.

    Cordially,
    Robin

    Cordially,
    Robin Margolis
    Half-Jewish Network
    http://www.half-jewish.net

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