One of our central messages has always been that interfaith couples can offer their children just as strong a sense of Jewish identity as their inmarried brethren. But besides our own research, almost no studies have focused on the population of interfaith families raising Jewish children. Until now.
A new report from the Boston Jewish federation analyzing data from its 2005 demographic study shows that interfaith families raising Jewish children are remarkably like typical self-identified Reform Jewish families. They observe Shabbat, light Hanukkah candles and have Bar and Bat Mitzvahs as often as inmarried Reform families. However, they are more likely to have a Christmas tree and less likely to send their children to Israel. They also join synagogues later and leave earlier.
In yesterday’s Boston Globe, Michael Paulson wrote about the new study. Chris Winship, a professor of sociology at Harvard University, told him:
Intermarriage has often been claimed to be a disease that’s slowly going to wipe out the American Jewish community, but now you’ve got to do that math, and see that if all the Jews that intermarried raised committed Jewish children, we could double the size of the Jewish population in one generation.
The data is just from Boston, but it is suggestive that intermarried families who are committed to Jewish choices are just as authentically Jewish as inmarried families.
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