A Profile of Contemporary American Jews
In "Introduction to the CJF 1990 National Jewish Population Survey" researchers assert that "in the United States religion and ethnicity are voluntary expressions of identity." Today a significant proportion of Jews both do and do not practice their religion. Recent research indicates that one of the largest reasons for a deterioration in the number of practicing Jews involve issues surrounding intermarriage. This essay will focus on several reasons why and why not contemporary American Jews are likely to be practicing their religion.
In "Introduction to the CJF 1990 National Jewish Population Survey" four categories for Jewish identity were constructed: 1) Born Jews; 2) Jews by Choice; 3) Jews by Religion; 4) Born Jews with No Religion. This study ascertained that of 3.2 million qualified Jewish households there were approximately 8.2 million individuals. Within this larger group, approximately 4.4 million Jews were practicing their faith while the remainder had either "converted out", severed any type of official religious affiliation or had assimilated within the gentile population-at-large.
Intermarriage accounts for one of the most compelling reasons that the number of practicing Jews may be dwindling. Hertzberg in The Jews in America contends that intermarriage functions as "the single most sensitive indicator of the stability of the Jewish community." Intermarriage has been on the rise since the 1960s rising as high as 40% in San Francisco in the 1980s. When both parents are not Jewish the likelihood of the child being raised in the Jewish faith diminishes greatly.
Children reared in inter-faith households are less likely to become observant of Jewish law and custom.
If Jews are not acculturated to their faith then they cannot understand the beauty and significance of Jewish thought, symbolism, and ritual. Therefore, lack of substantial Jewish education ...