Attitudes vs. Facts

While more than 50 percent of teenage Conservative Jews say they want to marry a Jewish partner, only 18 percent date Jews exclusively.

This very interesting fact was relayed to IFF by Ariela Keysar, a noted demographer at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. This was one of the findings of a study she co-authored for the Conservative movement called The Next Generation: Jewish Children and Adolescents.

Keysar spoke with IFF and our Professionals Advisory Circle–essentially, a network of outreach providers–earlier this week about the rise of secularism and its implication for outreach to the intermarried. She is also the co-author of an important new book called Religion in a Free Market: Religious and Non-Religious Americans, Who, What, Why, Where, which is based on the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey and includes some very interesting statistics on intermarriage in the American community at large (which I’ll address in a future post…).

But back to the original reason I wrote this post. I found her testimony about Conservative Jewish teens quite revealing because I think these stats are reflective of a larger, unreported trend: the disconnect between people’s attitudes and actions on intermarriage.

While it’s easy to say you want to marry a Jewish partner some time in the future, the available dating pool often minimizes that possibility, especially if you live in an area with a small Jewish population and/or don’t have many Jewish friends. That’s why intermarriage is a fact of American Jewish life that isn’t going away, and that’s why the Jewish community needs to do a better job of working with the intermarried.

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