Downton Abbey Portrays Reality of Interfaith RelationshipsBy Gerri Miller
Go inside Season 5 Episode 9 where the story line of Atticus and Rose's interfaith relationship comes to a head.Go To Pop Culture
May 22, 2007
A recent survey of more than 500 users has shown that the majority of people who visit InterfaithFamily.com are "highly satisfied" with the site, which provides services and resources to interfaith couples with a Jewish partner and a non-Jewish partner.
The survey, which was conducted online from Jan. 23 through Feb. 20, also gave a clear portrait of who visits InterfaithFamily.com. The majority (56%) of visitors are intermarried. But substantial minorities are parents of children in interfaith couples (18%) and Jewish professionals working with interfaith couples (17%). Few visitors are interdating (9%) or children of interfaith couples (7%).
Demographically, most visitors (73%) are Jewish, and most are female (78%), reflecting recent studies that have substantiated the lead role women tend to take in a family's religious life. Most visitors are parents as well, and most are between the ages of 30 and 49. The typical user visits the site once a month or more (76%) and 43% visit the site once every two weeks or more. As might be expected given InterfaithFamily.com's emphasis on raising Jewish children, nearly two-fifths (38%) of visitors are intermarried or interdating people with children.
The survey also revealed the significant effects that InterfaithFamily.com has had on its users' lives, especially among the 64% of users who are intermarried or interdating. Large majorities of intermarried/interdating users say that use of the site has led to or improved their experience of: celebrating Jewish holidays (70%), incorporating Jewish rituals into their life (63%) and incorporating Jewish traditions into life-cycle events (60%). Slightly less than a third (30%) of intermarried/interdating users say that the site affected their decision to raise their children Jewish. The impact of the site was especially dramatic among non-Jewish users--fully four-fifths (80%) of non-Jewish users say that InterfaithFamily.com improved their experience of celebrating Jewish holidays.
"It was really gratifying to see the level of impact we've had on people's lives," said Ed Case, president and publisher of InterfaithFamily.com, which started operations in 2002. "It's right in our tagline: we want to encourage Jewish choices."
The survey provided a window into what kind of products and services InterfaithFamily.com's users would like to see in the future. A majority expressed interest in informational packets on Jewish holidays (58%), informational packets on Jewish life-cycle events (55%) and email newsletters containing information about local interfaith-friendly events in their area (56%). Two-fifths (40%) of users were interested in connecting with other interfaith families in person or online; non-Jewish users were particularly interested (51%) in connecting with other interfaith families.
Surprisingly, only one-third of users said they found the website through an Internet search. This contrasts with InterfaithFamily.com's own web traffic statistics, which show that more than 50% of visitors come from Google and other search engines. Also, a significant minority came to the site through recommendations from rabbis and outreach professionals.
On the negative side, the survey found that few users were aware of some of the website's newer services, like the Rabbinic Officiation Referral Service and the blogs, both of which were launched last fall. Nearly half of visitors (41%) were completely unaware of Connections in Your Area, a database and calendar with information from more than 400 interfaith-friendly organizations that was launched in 2003. Heather Martin, vice president of operations and marketing, said those results indicate that InterfaithFamily.com needs to a better job marketing its array of services. "Most users know us only through our Web Magazine and email newsletter," she said.
"The user survey is going to be a really valuable tool for us," said Case. "It gives us a good sense of what we're doing well and what we need to do in the future."
InterfaithFamily.com receives up to 20,000 visitors a month, and more than 7,500 people receive InterfaithFamily.com's biweekly email newsletter.