Excerpts from: Encouraging Trends Among

Conservative Synagogue Members

by Rabbi Alan Silverstein

The recently-released Jewish Theological Seminary study involving more than 6000 congregant homes offers a welcome counter-view of the state of the movement. This optimistic report reflects the mounting successes which frequently are encountered at the grass roots level.

Third, the 1990 NJPS reports that American Jews intermarry at a 52% rate. On this basis, some observers have argued that "the battle to prevent intermarriage is over." Moreover, it is assumed from the data, that all sectors of U.S. Jewry equally have succumbed to this pattern of assimilation.

Critics, on the other hand, wisely have noted that this national data is misleading. The 52% figure has been artificially inflated because:

  • Small-town single Jews intermarry at very high rates
  • Adult offspring of mixed-married parents intermarry at a rate which exceeds 90%
  • Unaffiliated Jews intermarry with great frequency

In contrast, Jews who belong to synagogues, are the sons and daughters of two Jewish parents, and reside in moderate to large- size Jewish communities, intermarry at far smaller rates.

This criticism of the 52% generalization is born out in the JTS Report, particularly in its description of the unaffiliated. [...]

  • Orthodox -
    3% of members are intermarried/ in contrast to 17% of self-identifying unaffiliated Orthodox Jews
  • Conservative -
    6% of members are intermarried/ in contrast to 36% of self-identifying unaffiliated Conservative Jews
  • Reform -
    17% of members are intermarried/ in contrast to 49% of self-identifying unaffiliated Reform Jews

Like Orthodoxy, the culture of Conservative synagogues clearly remains in the camp of those who marry within the faith. [...]





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11 Jul 2007 / 25 Tamuz 5767 0