The figures are pretty straightforward. Start with 100 Orthodox Jews, 100 Modern Orthodox Jews, 100 conservative Jews, 100 Reform Jews and 100 Unaffiliated Jews. Extrapolate on the basis of intermarriage rates and average children per family how many Jews you will have left after 4 generations.
That’s what Antony Gordon and Richard Horowitz did in a study that’s got to be an eye opener for anyone concerned with continuity and the future of the Jews in America. So how did our original 500 Jews fare after 4 generations?
100 Orthodox Jews, with an intermarriage rate of 3% and an average 6.4 children per family increased their numbers to 2,588 Jews after 4 generations. 100 Modern Orthodox Jews, with an intermarriage rate of 3% and an average of 3.23 children per family also increased their numbers to 346 Jews.
Non-Orthodox and unaffiliated branches of Judaism did not fare so well in the continuity equation. 100 Conservative Jews decreased in number after 4 generations to 24 Jews (intermarriage rate: 37%, Average children per family: 1.82). Jews affiliated with the Reform Movement also saw a significant decrease in number after 4 generations, going from 100 Jews to 13 (intermarriage rate: 53%, Average children per family: 1.72). Unaffiliated Jews with an intermarriage rate of 72% and 1.62 children per family, were left with only 5 Jews after 4 generations.
So what does this mean to the future of the Jews? Well, probably less investment in the manufacture and sale of Judaica aimed at Reform and Conservative Jews. Great deals on the purchase of formerly active Reform Synagogues will be available to those looking for a loft space with high ceilings and the convenience of a suburb. What does this mean to you? I guess that all depends on your priorities.