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May 13, 2009



Given that today, 60 C Jews intermarry for every ONE BT, I have much more pessimistic expectations for what would happen with C's demise.

However, such predictions of our own demise in the mid-20th century were proven wrong, and I wouldn't read too much in social forecasting in general.



I have been reading this sort of stuff for years but I am not convinced that it is as imminent as people suggest.


It’s been clear for some time that CJ no longer really has a right wing, but has instead just one big left wing. In terms of its ideology and fealty to halachah, it has been steadily merging with Reform. Now, tellingly, it is also merging its institutions of rabbinic studies with the Reform movement, as is mentioned in one of the links you provided to Forward:

"JTS and HUC-JIR already have a small joint fellowship program for rabbinical students, and beginning next school year, they are planning to expand the partnership to their cantorial schools..."


I grew up in South Africa, where the community is predominantly of Litvish ancestry. The model they followed there was the Sefardi one, with very few non orthodox shuls, though, at least until the 1990, very few shomrei shabbos. I would guess that South Africa has produced more per capita BT's than any other Ashkenazi community. The intermarriage rate is also very low, by American standards. So the non reform and conservative model has definitely proven itself.


I think it's hard to compare the South African situation with the American melting pot. Jews were more likely to stay within their community in South Africa, since all cultures there were more separate.


Being a South African, I don't never understood the urge to move to reform and conservative in the first place. Why could American Jews not have remained non observant orthodox affiliated, like their South African counterparts?

Re the American melting pot. Again, I don't follow. There were so many Jewish immigrants, why exactly did the feel the need to assimilate into the non Jewish culture, and what exactly was that culture? Irish and Italian? Protestant English? What was the great attraction?


America is truly a unique country, or at least it has been, until the current administration started Europeanizing it. It is a project of all humanity, a new model for human society, based on a combination of religious and Enlightenment ideals. Its values have been extremely attractive to Jews. Dennis Prager sums up American values in 3 phrases (included on the US penny): E Pluribus Unum "Out of the many, one." "In God We Trust." and "Liberty."
What makes America different from other man-made utopian projects is that it inclusive of others, while at the same time religious (in a watered-down way), and tolerant. The culture is not Irish or Italian or Protestant English or Hispanic or anything else. It's "Out of the many, one."

Toby Katz

Given that today, 60 C Jews intermarry for every ONE BT, I have much more pessimistic expectations for what would happen with C's demise.


Posted by: Micha | May 13, 2009 at 11:27 AM

Where is the evidence that C prevents intermarriage? Given that C and R grease the skids and make it so easy to intermarry, it seems that with the demise of C and R there would be less intermarriage. Certainly there could not be any more than there already is.

Imagine a world with no rabbis to stand there saying, "Of course you can marry out, of course I will officiate at the ceremony, of course I will wave my magic wand and make the girl 'Jewish' to satisfy your parents, no problem."

Imagine a world in which every rabbi says, "Intermarriage is forbidden, end of story."

Why would you imagine that in such a world there would be more intermarriage and more assimilation?

As for South Africans, in SA they belong to O shuls and they marry Jews, even if they are not observant. The minute they get to America they join a C congregation and before you know it, their kids marry out, end of another Jewish family.


Well, nothing I said indicated my belief that it does. Just that more people leave C to further assimilation than to join O. And FWIW, C does have every rabbi saying "intermarriage is forbidden, end of story". But their message isn't heard. Just as C teaches some version of shemiras shabbos and kashrus, and the majority have come to ignore that too. The rabbi serves as Jiminy Cricket -- he yells, they feel guilty for a little bit, and then they feel the job is done. And if that's true on the day-to-day things, then how could their rabbis expect to be listened to when it comes to the life-cycle events?

However, in terms of C and intermarriage, here are the actual numbers. R rates were at 46% in 2001, at the last survey, and unaffiliated was at 49%. Roughly the same. C was at 32%, which is around 2/3 the rate of those more Americanized than they are. Of course, these numbers include people who self-identify as R or C but never actually do anything to justify that identification. By that same methodology, Prof Marvin Shick found that intermarriage among Mod-O and chareidi communities are each at 6%. Meaning 6% of our children go off the derekh and end up intermarrying.

Also, missing from those numbers are intermarriages between Jews and people with non-halachic conversations. Still, it looks like R does little to stem intermarriage, but C actually does.

In contrast, 0.8% of American Jews are now O but weren't born with that affiliation -- ie "BTs". If C were to fail, do you think the impact would be more people joining those 32% to fill out a number more like R's 46%, or more people joining that 0.8%? Assuming the same numbers were to hold if C suddenly closed shop, it would be 18 more intermarriages for each new O affiliate. And that doesn't mean he would actually be a BT, we'd be back at the situation before C grabbed up those people who used to park around the corner from their O shul.



you don't have to go to any shul. it is optional. you can daven at home.


I see more Orthodox Synagogues closing in Northeastern US and in the Southwestern US, and more Reform and Conservative growing and thriving. I felt sorry for the Orthodox people whose Torahs were boxed up and sent to Israel, whose plaques were put in the Conservative Synagogue across town. But, they wouldn't accept women in their minyans, so what do you expect? Women won't put up with that Medieval drivel anymore.

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