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.

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Ck! you are so bias! Why dont you post a study how people are happy in different streams of Judaism? 🙂

  • He wasn’t talking about happy. He was talking about later.

    Does Ybocher think people never die?

  • The study doesn’t think in Halachic terms of “Who’s a Jew”, of course, but only counts racially pure full Jews!

    An example: For 100 unaffiliated Jews (kids p fam: 1.62, intermarriage at 72%), it says, in the second generation, there are only 36 Jews.

    Let’s see: Of those 100, 28 have Jewish partners. (Let’s keep to the study’s presumption that those partners are also from among the unaffiliated Jews.) Makes 14 couples -> 22.68 children.

    Now the 72 who intermarried. Those 72 are 72 couples, in 50% of which (simplified) the woman is the Jewish part. Those 36 Jewish-woman couples have 58.32 Jewish children. (The 36 Gentile-woman couples have 58.32 Gentile children.)

    That is 81 Jewish children, not 36, as the study says!

  • Hee hee hee. Geez! All I did was put up the stats. I was kind of hoping someone smarter than me would criticize the methodology or question the conclusions. Given that most Jews fall into the areas that have negative population growth it looks grim. Grim indeed. Please can someone dispute this study?

  • Will the grandchildren be ethical, honest, moral, law-abiding citizens is really the more important question and there is no empirical way to study that.
    However, I’m sure my Ultra-Orthodox Kollelnick Landlord will have voluminous numbers of grandchildren who will also be building illegal apartments with no City building permits and charging outrageous rents to live within the Eruv just like their Tzade. I hope mine are in the Suburbs and not taking public assistance to help pay for Yeshiva tuition.

  • Oh and the grandchildren of other than orthodox jews will surely be moral, honest… blah blah blah they re just wont be Jews. No wait! They might still go to Jewish film festivals.

    ck, I have to say that the study doesnt take in account the converts. Other streams than orthodoxy have them far more than ultra-orthodox kollelnicks. 🙂
    Sorry cant thing of anything better.

  • CK wanted to discuss Jews.

    Ybocher wants happy people, and Chutzpah wants nice people, but CK is inquiring about Jewish people.

    One thing at a time. It’s CK’s thread. Stick to his topic. Happiness and niceness can be fully addressed on other threads.

    (There is an invisible question mark next to the word grandchildren. The unspoken elipsis is “… if you have any…”)

    I hope CK has some. Ybocher too. Chutzpah surely will, G-d bless.

  • okay, I went and look at the link you posted the first time (might want to stick it on this post)

    It is literally looking at who is a halachic Jew in the 4th generation. So my baby cousin who is halachicly Jewish, who won’t be brought up to know anything about Judaism, who maybe even won’t be told he’s Jewish until he’s a lot older, is still considered a child under the Orthodox category because his grand-mother was brought up in an Orthodox home.

    The numbers are highly interesting and meaningful, but if we can find a similar study which studies religious transmission to the 4th gen and then do a white paper on the two sets of stats, the study would have a much deeper meaning. You could see the shifts between affiliation and intermarriage in the generations, rather than starting with one generation skipping the actions and lives of the 2 inbetween and then measure the 4th based solely on the first.
    This kind of study and paper must have already been done? I’m not saying the results would be radically different, I’d just be more interested to see the ebb and flow of the families studied rather than numbers that I can’t put lives on.

  • Jewish mom! ybocher doesnt think at all. ybocher is limited orthodox piece of mind who blindly follows bunch of stale 18th century Poland (!) concepts imposed by overzealous and misogynic rabbis. Happy? I didnt know we had such a concept in Judaism. I thought we were all about breaking law, oppressing our women, abusing goyishe maids, humiliating converts, making agunos lives miserable, finding ways to look down on the Conservative and the Reform Judaism… Woman do you really think I have time to think??!!

  • For once, I kind of agree with JM. (Gassssp!) As the resident Lorax for single people, I need to add somewhat pessimistically that this study obviously takes a 100 people who actually do get married to someone. What with the constant talk of “the singles/shidduch crisis” I can’t help but think that the sample of 100 O or MO Jews would surely include at least one or two (or ten or fifteen) singles, who are committed enough not to intermarry, but whose dedication to a Jewish life ends there, because without marriage they will not have children, let alone grandchildren. Sure, there are a limited number of single Jewish women making the choice to have babies on their own, contributing to the Jewish continuity numbers but not to the marriage statistics. Sometimes the community embraces them (I got a great letter from a single mom who talks about how great the has been), but let’s face it: often, the Jewish community isn’t real good at thinking outside the traditional box.

    Will my grandchildren be Jewish? For sure. If I have any. One step at a time, kids.

  • YB you would be better served to look honesty at the world you so love. Rather than looking to respond in what you perceive as attack mode. Like someone put it, people are always moser nefesh when it comes to learning Torah. We need people to be moser nefesh when it comes to other traits like honesty and bein Adam. try to understand that there are alot of observers of some of the shtick – having said that, the problem is that the Ortho. hold themselves up as a shining example of greatness, and the problem is that are thousands and thousands of examples where this is not the case, but the dress is the black hat, the suit, white shirt, long skirts, etc… And we read al the time for example, how an area is called ‘ a spiritual wasteland’ bec. there are no frum people living there. Then they move in a kollell and it is no longer a ‘spiritual wasteland’. This is so bogus because this ignores that people live there and are honest, helpful to their neighbors. I asked you on a different thread. I have seen so many examples of poor un Torah behavior from frum people who won’t eat in homes not even GLASS cups to drink from. This type of behavior bothers others, this holier than thou attitude. You would be better off to acknowledge this than to constantly attack w/ your bla bla blas.

  • Thank you, ybocher. I feel much better.

    I hope your knees will be covered with grandchildren, pulling your beard, making your glasses fall off, making noise, and competing with each other for a hug from grandpa.

  • Jobber, the study does seem to show that the blacker the hat, the more group continuity.

    In order to discuss morals and kashrut details, people have to exist in the first place.

  • Jewish Mother, I never used the word “nice”. “Nice” is very different from “honest”.

    Again, Jewish Women do not have a responsibility to be baby factories, they are only responsible to be the best individuals they can be; and, IF they are fortunate to enough to do so, to raise functional children who can contribute to the world.

    Thanks for the blessings, but don’t paraphrase me incorrectly.

  • Of course they exist, it is just that the things they do, there is no reason to refer to them as ‘spiritual wasteland’. Spirituality is not only going to shule, sending kids to Yeshiva.

  • Jsirpicco is familiar with this study, and I dont’ believe it makes any distinction with regard to halachic Jews or not…SO QUIT YER BITCHIN! It factors for INVOLVEMENT – CK…don’t let these people hijack the debate here. It’s not about halachic jews vs. not. It’s about…if your’e involved, you tend to want more kids, etc. The more you’re involved, the more kids, etc….Why do people freak out about this…and ybocher – you such a buzz kill it’s not even funny.

    And just goes, once again, to prove – THE LIST IS NEEDED!!!!! THE LIST TO PRAY FOR PEOPLE TO GET THEIR ASSES IN GEAR AND START GETTIN MARRIED AND MAKIN THEM JEWISH BABIES!!!!! has the list and it’s growing…run the post, CK!!!!

  • this study is bull: it doesn’t even account for second marriages 😉

  • Does this really surprise anyone? I think it is pretty self evident that since the Orthodox have the least amount of assimilation (which leads to intermarriage), they will have the highest degree of retention.

    I just recently finished reading Mordechai Kaplan’s “Judaism as a Civilization” which he wrote in the late 1920’s. One of the things that struck me was how incisive his analysis of the Jewish condition was, and how wrong his predictions about the state of Judaism would turn out. It was painfully ironic to read his predictions in view of the Holocaust that hapenned a decade later and the subsequent formation of the State of Israel. These are things that so drastically affected the Jewish civilization and yet a couple of decades before they happened, none of the major thinkers envisioned them happening. My point – predicting history based on past results is about as useful as predicting your mutual fund returns based on past results.

    I think a more interesting question would be “Why do you want your grandchildren to be Jewish?”. I think the answer for the Orthodox community is fairly clear. There is a clear religious component to it which encouranges the notion of separateness. As a matter of fact it can be argued that many of the laws in the Torah and especially in Rabbinic Judaism are there to promulgate cultural separation. Reform Judasim has actively encouraged integration into society, and the majority of Conservative Jews have de facto become Reform in their day to day lifestyle.

    Frankly, while there are arguments for maintaining a Jewish identity while living a secular or Deist style (which I would categorize the majority of Jews in the world today), but without an external barrier to assimilation, I don’t think that the reasons to stay Jewish are very compelling.

    I’d also be curious about who funded the study. The fact that it is posted on a site geared towards discouranging intermarriage and assimilation makes me suspect that the study was less than impartial.

  • Disputing the study?

    Okay. It doesn’t matter about the methodology or conclusions if the question is remiss. 1) Perhaps the question is invalid.

    2)I find it interesting that the “conclusion” or “discussion” is about O vs the rest of the Jewish world. In a truly unbiased study, there would not be any greater interpretive weight given to any stream of Judaism. The authors possess a clear bias.

    Btw, one study does not a statement make. It means nothing in terms of statistical significance. You would have to posit an aggregation to even to begin to make a case. And even then, the case would have to be value neutral to be taken seriously.

  • Jobber, this thread is about the long-term future, which none of us will see, four generations from now. It is then that there may be an “exist” problem.

    This study may make people shift their ideas which might lead to acting differently. Maybe.

    Nobody gets married or pregnant because they read a study. But there is no harm in looking at truths and realities.

  • Second Marriages???????? Good God…let’s look for anything not just to discuss things that make us uncomfortable….I don’t get people…If they said 4 generations out people get taller, everyone would like, Oh…THAT’S interesting…
    The numbers are changing, people…no one can deny that U>S. Jewish pop. is static at best, with some immigration…these are fact…whether you include converts or not…and even if you include intermarriage or not…why? Well, people in general are getting married later. This is a fact. Used to get married 20s, certainly before 30 in most cases…now get married later 20s…30s…and if you’re in LA…well, sometime after 40, maybe if guy, and the girls…well, And then, people in general (yes, except for the Orthos) are not having as many kids as they used…And Jews lead in both categories…getting married, relatively speaking, MUCH later, and, relatively speaking, MUCH FEWER kids…why does this bug people? It’s a stat…Okay…so now..WHACHYAGONNA DO ABOUT IT WHITE, BOY????? yes, blatant promotion of a good deed: It CAN START at Let OUR PEOPLE PRAY FOR EACH OTHER, DUDES!!!! (This, was actually a reasonable rant from Jsirp…I better get more meth!)

  • JM,

    The “study” is bogus. Totally unscientific.

    It is dishonest to posit a study as scientifically true. It isn’t. Even the question lacks any originality and taps into a supposed urgency or panic among some Jews. And that’s my opinion. From a strictly scientific POV, however, this study is inadequate. If I were marking it, I would give it a “C”. If, at the outset, they had proposed a study of O v other streams of Judaism, I might give it a C+. They merely extrapolated what they wanted and called it science. Feh!

  • Rail against the study as you will and quibble with the numbers while you’re at it. Nevertheless, you can’t deny the high rates of intermarriage amongst Reform and Conservative Jews. You can quibble all day, but low birth rates and high intermarriage rates don’t add up to a whole lot more Jews in future generations.

  • Don’t mean to bore you, but there is one other thing about scientific studies- the whole idea is that you posit a null hypothesis. This means you try to disprove it, but you hope that doesn’t happen. Conclusions not only include the proving, but also the disproving. It is balanced and as fair as possible. I see only one set of conclusions, and no possibility of the data being interpreted in an alternate way. Not scientific.

    Moerover, social scientific conclusions are interpretive and tentative. Never definitive. They also open up the floor for new questions. I don’t see that here.

  • David,

    You are the one that is “railing”. The facts speak for themselves. If someone is gonna offer us some information, it better be acceptable, factually speaking. You think it’s okay to accept anything out there? And then distract from a very bad and biased study by making it something divisive and emotional?

    The facts speak for themselves. This study is biased and really bad in terms of science. You want to discuss the future of Jews? Fine. Just don’t use deceptive facts as a starting point.

  • Hooray! More bitching about intermarriage and reform/conservative jews, just what is needed.

  • Alan Dershowitz, in The Vanishing American Jew, did a similar back-of-the-envelope calculation of which Jewish groups will still be around after some number of generations. Like this is news…

    I agree with those who have called this “study” on its (lack of) scientific merit. There are too many unknowns that render projections 4 generations down the road effectively useless.

    Now, I’m guessing, checking out the link, that this study was underwritten by some Orthodox dayschools, since the authors have pointed at dayschool education as being the only true way of ensuring Jewish continuity. As if.

    OK, These guys’ point is valid, if sensationalist. If we really care about population numbers, the more liberal branches of Judaism are in real trouble. Oh, and you “Orthodox-lite” folks with your 2.3 kids per family, busy worrying about silly things like overpopulation and fiscal responsibility- stop smirking ’cause you’re a big part of the problem, too.

    Yet the big question on my mind is: is it such a noble goal to blanket the Earth with as many Jews as possible? Is there a prize for whoever has more players on the board at the end of the game? ‘Cause if that’s true, shouldn’t we do a study addressing the problems of all those pesky goyim having all their kids and taking up all the real estate that we’re going to so desperately need?

    I really think that the long-term answers lie in keeping Judaism going for those who choose to live Jewish lives. Populations have ebbed and flowed in the past, demographics have changed drastically, and the Jewish landscape will continue to change in the future. It’s just what happens. You can’t “make” someone be Jewish with these doomsday scenarios. So there’s really no purpose in popping out these kinds of statistics- anyone who intermarries probably couldn’t care less, and those railing against liberalization are left preaching to the choir.

    I hope I’ve made at least a little bit of sense- I’m doing several things at once and banged this out quickly.

  • dude, that’s not a study, that’s a math problem! And also, he forgot to factor in other things, such as how many kids from orthodox families actually end up raising orthodox families? What is the interchange rate between the different levels of judaism?

  • Listen – the people behind the study are insurance people…they probably ran numbers the way insurance actuaries run numbers…I’m with the chick who’s saying: okay look at the facts…is it happening or not? And why do people get so riled up about this fact or not fact being pointed out??? Do an anectdotal study of 20 of your friends (okay – JM make that 4, cuz you ain’t got 20 friends, dude! (sorry, couldnt’ resist!) See what’s up with them. How many married and when, how many had kids and when…how many not married and what are their basic affiliations….I KNOW it won’t be “scientific,” but if you see the same basic pattern repeated over and over and over, then you’ve got at least something there….I don’t get it…Anyway…I WILL SAY IT AGAIN AND AGAIN…Buck the trend…sign the prayer list! ! 🙂

  • man you keep harping that list like an evangelical with a chastity pledge.

  • I’m reading “Jewish Meditation” by Areyeh Kaplan. If nothing else, it describes, quite nicely, what WE (those of us who take Judaism seriously) must do to bring back the spark…the raison d’etre, behind all of his tsuris we call Judaism. If we don’t, or can’t, we’re all in trouble.

    The whole intermarriage/holocaust thing is a big zzzzzzzzzzzzzz without a deeper, more meaingful pull. Or as Elligton sang:
    “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”

  • Judi makes excellent points.

    People should understand clearly what is going on, that’s all.

    Nobody wants to face the uncomfortable consequences of their “choices” – (as if they had much choice, ha ha. Some of the men MAY have a choice. Some of the women MAY. Only the best- looking and best-paid have much choice, now that we are not scared of G-d any more.)

    But must we be so passive?

    You have to fight like a tiger to have a family.

    Individually, we just wander around and do our best. But individual actions add up. We are all somehow, though in a small way, responsible for this mess.

    Something has been crippled inside us, and we might as well as look at it.

    The “study” just runs some numbers. Anybody with a calculator would come to the same conclusions.

  • Jobber, i dont fell being under attack and Jewish mom got I was only joking. Yeah I did make fun of all these people who make traditional Jews look like they do nothing else but cause trouble. Yes, there are cases where people “wearing black” do terrible chilul Hashem but it is not more often than any other kind of dress Jews. I do agree though that these cases are more painfull as they are more transparent. But you know what maybe open your mind – somebody who dresses black and white doesnt necessary has to be orthodox just like somebody with a nick “ybocher” doesnt necessarily have to be a yeshiva student.
    Jobber my friend you know well that religous Jews also try to excell in kidush Hashem. Just think of Hatzolo on 9/11 and there are more examples you know it. They also do lots of beyn adam l’chaveyro and anyone who says they dont is bias.

    An you all scientists. Sure the “study” is a lie. The truth is the Jewish popultaion in America is not decreasing – it’s just gettig redefined!? 😀
    The intermarriage is not a problem but just the next phase. All streams of Jewish world are growing and the orthodox doesnt count as it is only a shameful black and white pimple on the face of the New American Jew.
    ANd why do we need to have Jewish babies or babies at all. People with babies cant go to the film festivals whenever they want to!

    I m sorry I m such a barbarian. Jsirpico put my name on yr list – ybocher ben yrebbetzin! And Jewish Mom I say amen to your bracha.

  • patty-cake! you could have at least say thank you. do you know how much trouble i put myself into just to keep you happy with my spelling???

  • sorry ybocher – ya gotta go to there yourself :)….but I’m not sensing you’re in a marrying mood…meanwhile, it is patently NOT true that “all streams of Judaism are growing” Even with intermarriage and all that…the latest pop study found only 5.2 million, okay???? And that includes half a million or more immigrants over last decade…and definitely down somehwat from the famous ‘6 million’ American Jews of whenever it was 1970??? So what you talking ’bout white boy????

    Again – check with your friends…when your parents were growing up how many families had 3 or 4 kids….and now how many of your friends are married with same?….Achhh, whatever! So DON’T GET MARRIED. SO DON’T HAVE KIDS. SO SPEND THE NEXT SIX DECADES KVETCHING ON JEWLICIOUS, WONDERING, GEE, WHEN IS IT ALL GOING TO BE HAPPY FOR ME>>>>> And whatever you do DO NOT LET ANYONE SIGN THAT PRAYER LIST AT It could lead to dancing!

  • Ybocher, again, you have described the current mood pretty well.

    The squeaky wheel gets the grease. What hurts sends you to the doctor. This problem does not hurt. Oh, sure it hurts plenty, but not to the extent that people will rage against the machine, change everything in their lives, to solve it. They will not refuse to even have a drink with someone who is clear that they are “not ready”. “Fine. I’m ready. Drink with someone else” should be the attitude. THAT would drive some consequences.

    We have to get tougher.

  • Jsirpicco, ybocher was being sarcastic. Your prayer list is a good idea. Prayer does TOO work.

    Hey, the study shows that, no?

  • Another flaw amidst piles of flaws in this biased, unscientific study: where do you think the founders/first generation Reform/Conservative Jews came from in the first place? They were the CHILDREN OF ORTHODOX JEWS!!! So, sure, those orthos may have a googol (or koogol?) grandkids, but lots of ’em are going to be more attracted to streams of judaism that value women, GLBT’s, democrats and fellow non-orth jews as EQUAL in the eyes of The Et-rnal. Word to your great-great-great grandmother.

  • “Barefoot Jewess” seems a little defensive about this study…as well as getting a bit wrong about the scientific process. First, this study IS a hypothesis–a prediction based on current trends and information. As it posits something about the future, it cannot be considered scientific “truth,” now can it? No, the point of science is not to make a “null hypothesis” and then disprove it. One makes the best hypothesis he or she can based on the data in hand. Sure, we should be as open to a disproving result as a proving result, but that doesn’t mean you aim to be wrong. Heck, that’s easy! The writers of this study, biased or not, took some simple data and trends and performed an extrapolation. Is it the only way to extrapolate the data? No. Is it believable? Unfortunately, yes.

  • ” So there’s really no purpose in popping out these kinds of statistics-”

    I worked for Federation CJA for 5 years. They i.e. the staff, the funders, have a very real (read: jobs, security, better funding opportunities) need for these numbers.

    F’it I say. Let things get worse so they can get better. The whole intermarriage discussion is a great antidote for insomnia.

  • Elisha Ben Abuya, our resident reverse heretic, made one of the most important comments in this thread, yet no one has picked up on it:
    How would members of each of the different streams of Judaism answer the following question: Why do care if your grandchildren are Jewish?

    Seriously. Try to answer that question. It’s not easy.

    I’ll give it a go, just to get us started. I believe that the Jews play an important role in the world. We are a conscience, a constant reminder of a universal and unifying God who demands certain things of us sentient beings. We are to carry the flag of God and morality high–no matter how degraded or exalted our fellow humans get. We are a nation of priests, as the Torah points out, to the whole world–not high and mighty priests, but “parish priests,” shepherding the whole of humanity. My ancestors did that. I try to. I hope my grandchildren can too. It’s important.

  • If G-d made a covenant with the Jewish people that we would be an eternal nation, then there is really nothing to worry about when it comes to numbers, attrition and growth.

  • jewish tradition generallyencourages depending on people to pay their debts or keep their promises, although we’re supposed to try our best to keep ours. I think the same applies for god, even though he promised us all kinds a stuff, we generally feel like it’s rude to force him to take care of it. why did we ever write down the mishna, if we really believed in god?

  • Chuzpah! Ding! Wrong! Trrrryyyyy Agaaiiinnnn….we are all responsible for each other…and we’re partners with Hashem in this…what a cruel, cruel comment – basically, sorry, says: Ahhhhh fuck em! And even from a more mundane point of view…losing the Jewish people means losing their creativity, losing their drive, losing the ability to change the world for good…What an utterly hard, cruel cold comment – sorry, woman…between you and ybocher and TM and probably Shtreimel….it would be the end of the world as we know it…

    And anyway, girl…why dont’ you get yourself over to everyone on this blog is rooting (route?) for you to find your new husband and be happy, girl. Even when I yell. Yes, even when I yell.

  • Granted.

    But the study shows that the bracha-halacha-heavy way of life is doing the job in the real world. Here a bracha, there a bracha, everywhere a bracha.

    A fair assumption is that nobody here is indifferent to Jewish disappearance. It is also a good bet that people are not ready to get more religious.

    If we could just get our singles married with a child here and there we would have made a huge stride.

    There is something so difficult about this. I don’t know what.

    Do you? It’s so close and yet so far.

    Well, maybe we SHOULD get more religious.

    That Polish nobleman clothing seems to help. It’s hot in summer but it is a badge that helps reinforce a way of thinking and group identity. It keeps your ideas in your face all the time. NOBODY’s clothes don’t matter. EVERYBODY is in uniform, even if they do not know it. The only socially neutral clothing is a hospital gown or surgical scrubs.

    My bracha should apply to all not just ybocher.

  • TM has kids. Chutzpah has kids. Ybocher and Shtreimel will, G-d willing; they would do very well. So would CK, the author of this very useful thread.

    Maybe single men should get together, and address this issue hard, behind a firmly closed door. It might not be pretty. But it might be useful.

  • 1.5,

    “Barefoot Jewess” seems a little defensive about this study

    I would call that a biased statement without proof.

    No, the point of science is not to make a “null hypothesis” and then disprove it. One makes the best hypothesis he or she can based on the data in hand.

    Actually that is not true for social sciences, expressly psychology. Are you speaking of another science?

    Sure, we should be as open to a disproving result as a proving result, but that doesn’t mean you aim to be wrong.

    NOm it doesn’t mean you aim to be wrong- it means you aim to be intellectually and factually honest. To study a sample population without a control group, for example, aims to prove something to be right and has nothing to do with scientific method. It is not a casual thing, it is not about being “open”. It is about the scientific method, which is what ck was asking- for challenges to methodology/conclusions.

    Heck, that’s easy! The writers of this study, biased or not, took some simple data and trends and performed an extrapolation. Is it the only way to extrapolate the data? No. Is it believable? Unfortunately, yes.

    The study, because it doesn’t hold to strict scientific method (yet, looks like it, on the face, which misleads people as to its authority and validity), is can be arguably criticised for bias. Period. There is no reliability, no validity, according to the scientific method.

    Moreover, the question sucks. As shtremel so eloquently put it- “zzzzzzzzzzz”.

    If we don’t ask the right questions we are gonna be stuck with the same old, same old, and as judi so astutely pointed out, it isn’t getting us anywhere, and is that the right question to ask?

    So, who’s defensive?

  • Maybe they should make a kitty, or fund, which goes to the first one with a kid. Serious bucks. Men are very competitive and they understand money. Maybe one of the philanthropists would match what they could raise. No illegitimacy, please. But secular wedding to a Jewish woman, OK.

  • JM,

    Last time I looked, brachot weren’t indigenous just to O Jews. So the (ideal)study would have to reflect that as well.

    On a personal note, as far as I’m concerned, the more brachot, the merrier.

  • Jsirpico, I thought you know I am supporting your list and I do support brachos. and yes we should be all included because then the prayers work even better.
    As to the question of “why do we need our grandkids to be Jewish?” I ll say that you dont have to get so orhtodox 1.5 to answer that.
    EBA, tell me if a nation is not growing does it have a chance to survive. There is no plateau in demographics – either you grow or you start to disappear. Now you can answer my question. Why is it important that Jewish nation should not disapear and cease to exist? Are you one of people hoping that jews will finally will be able to comfortably to blend in? Good luck1
    And yes G-d did promise that we will be an eternal nation but that doesnt mean that one should sit around and wait for miracle, no?

    Jewish Mom thanks for understading my sarcasm above.

  • Yes JM, let’s all wear hospital scrubs! Too bad not every woman will look as good as that girl from the TV show scrubs in them 🙂

    I’m being sarcastic JM please don’t take offense, just trying to lighten the mood before heads start rolling!

  • Isn’t the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves?” I find it pretty ridiculous that some relinquish action and putting entire faith and trust that some force will ensure the continuity of the Jewish people, or prayer lists for those still single. This farsighted mentality frustrates the hell outta me. As if your name mentioned at a mystical gravesite will instantly cause your email box to be flooded with chicks begging you to take them out for coffee.

    This study is crap-more biased than my 7th grade rabbi. I don’t find labels applicable anymore, and ck can vouch on that. I’m the son of a drop-out from rabbinical school and an Iraqi woman who grew up secular then reverted back. What makes me livid is this type of study that tries to scare people into going frum to ensure the survival of the Jewish people. It’s about choice, and perspective, not what religious stream you belong to. I’m marying Jewish and raising my kids Jewish because I, encino yeled, want to, because my own screwed up Conservadoxform brand of Judaism makes sense to me.

  • Barefoot Jewess, it’s obvious that the more religious, the more children. It’s also well known that only a tiny percent of American Jews are orthodox. EVERYBODY’S rolodex is overflowing with charming singles who have seen thirty come and go. Everybody.

    Something is broken. As for asking the right questions, yes, that is core. But there still has to be somebody to ask them.

    HAVING KIDS IS THE MOST FUN, most fascinating thing anybody can do. And, it is a two-parent job. It is the job where the results matter more than any other job. That makes it worth your best efforts, and compensates you for what it costs. It is life’s biggest joy. You don’t know what joy IS until you have kids. It is a fundamental right.

    People who insist on their right to vote, publish, work, and travel freely, somehow allow themselves to be deprived of this most basic life right: to a spouse and a child. They are not sure they want their back-packs searched,but NO KIDS, that’s OK. Whateeeeever.

    Aesop wrote about sour grapes. What we can’t have, we pretend isn’t so great anyway, and we emphasise to ourselves how hard and expensive it is. How honest is that?

    Let’s wail. It’s the three weeks. It’s wail time. It’s TERRIBLE so many of us are not married and have no little hands pulling our glasses off, spilling juice on the clean floor, and wanting a story.


  • Barefoot Jewess, you point is true, and frightening. Brachos don’t seem to be enough. There is something else at work. What?

  • bocher means you are not married. I bocher is one who is not married. Are you saying that u are trying to change peoples perceptions?

  • Let’s see…. start with 500 Jews, end up with almost 3,000 Jews – what’s so terrible about that? The papers are full of stories about how Europe is becoming depopulated, and America would be the same without strong immigration.

    Most committed, most retention. Most assimilated, least retention. This is earth shattering? It’s the story of every cultural/religious minority in a pluralistic culture.

  • oh all these labels, presumptions, prejudice etc. Read in to my comments, not into my nick! And yes i might not be what you envision as ybocher. Maybe that is good because yoo seem not to highly of them. Anyway it is irrelevant.
    Unless you are a shaddchan i wont tell you who needs a shidduch me or my kids. 😉

  • JSirpico,
    1st) please try to refrain from referring to me as girl or woman, it is highly condescending when it comes from you.

    2nd) by the comment I just meant that we should all ultimately have faith in our survival as a Nation because it was promised to us by Gd. Nothing cruel, nothing saying “fuck ’em”.
    Just saying it all will work out 4 Generations from now according to Hashem’s will.

    3)Please seek a mood-stabilizing drug or anger management class.

  • Jsirpicco,
    Thanks for rooting for me, but I intend on creating my own happiness whether I find my “new husband” or not.
    And Jewish Mother, if my girls don’t produce grandchildren or if my son marries a non-Jewish woman but they all do good in the world, I will be just as proud of them and love them just as much.

    You people, YUCK, I am done here.

    Chuzpah, woman, GIRL, CHICKIE, I says what’s I gots to say, and if you don’t like it, well, you wasn’t gonna be my girlfriend anyway!! And like, since when did YOU get so thin skinned – and if you CAIN’T TAKE THE HEAT, THEN YOU KNOW…BLAME GOD!

    I am Jsirpicco. I am the Right Hand of God! (and, you know what, I’m the fucking funniest god damn blogger on this site – check the nielsons…CK, who’s you’re daddy, boy???? Hmmmm?)

  • Jsirpicco- Yes funny indeed, but not so much haha funny, or peculiar funny, more like “skip over without reading” funny. But it’s good stuff, really.

  • If Jsirpicco’s the right hand of God, I’m pretty sure that makes God left-handed.

    Chutzpah, I hope you’ll stick around, even after this discussion is over…

  • esther! you are into bashing other Jews?? I cant believe. I always thought that you are so much above that. You rare right (sic!), G-d is not jsirpico-handed neither is He left-handed. G-d, despite us fighting who is right, is ambidextrous. If you know what I mean.

  • “It was not in the wind, it was not in the fire, it was not in the earthquake. It was in a still small voice, or thin sound.”

    Sturm und drang is not the thing.

    You will know it is your Permanene Person in a very small way, with no trumpets blaring, the earth will not move, you won’t start spouting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and you will be able to walk, talk, eat and sleep.

    So what will it be? It’s more what you will NOT feel. You will NOT mind the person being physically nearby, and their voice will be OK with you, and you will not worry around them.

    They will look good to you, even though you can rationally see that they are not perfect-looking. You will trust what they say.

    That’s all.

    Be prepared for flack from family and friends. But it is just about you two.

    The rest of them will adjust in time.

  • ybocher, whew! I was afraid that this thread was going to degenerate into another series of long-winded comments about why left-handed Jews are responsible for the End of Judaism. Seems our little wrong-arm-tefillin-wrapping buddies are safe for the moment.

  • JM et al, Intermarriage does not mean loss of Jews. If the wife is Jewish, then the kids are. Many such families are joining the Jewish community. There are no hard and fast rules here. That is Orthodox BS and brainwashing.
    There are BT’s in all the denominations. The problems of Jewish identity is being addressed by Birthright, which is largely a non Orthodox enterprise. WHich reminds me, if I want to send my frum daughter on that is there any programs for frum kids, i.e. separated busses and so on?

  • Check out the birthright website which is for your question about frum trips.

  • As Ben-David has pointed out, this study should actually be cause for celebration!

    Start with 500 Jews and within 4 generations end up with 3,000.

    This is not just continuity, this is very healthy growth.

    So if you seriously believe in this study, you should actually have a big grin on your face.

  • Jobber, there are all female programs. Check out, go to Trip Options, then North American List (I assume you’re in NA) it’ll give you the info you need to decide on a trip and trip organizer.

    For totally frum (beyond kosher food, all female, shomer shabbat), you may need to do more digging with the trip organizers that look most promising to you.

  • Barefoot Jewess, did you look at the article I posted earlier by Daniel Pipes? In it he quotes statistics from the “National Jewish Population Survey.”
    check it out here
    They are very reliable 🙂

  • Jew Speak,

    No, I did not.

    I followed the link to the survey. What is your point? (not being adversarial. Just wondering what the point is for me to slog thru it all.)

  • This is a study of American Jews. If American Jews decline, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Judaism is in danger of dying out, does it? For all we know, the Israelis could be breeding like rabbits, even as we speak:)

  • In general, getting society to change their behavior for a beneficial result in the far off future is a futile endeavor. Look at balancing the trade deficit, or global warming, or dependence on oil.

  • Just looking at some of the other articles on the same website: advocating shomer negiah, attacks on evolution, negative portrayal of non-Orthodox Judaism. Doesn’t sound like a place where they would host a value-neutral study. This doesn’t mean that the study is invalid, but I wonder if there were other studies that don’t show the same conclusions, would they show up on this site as well?

  • The Israeli birthrate is better than the US one.

    They have some of the same problem dynamics operating, however.

    What nobody wants to look at is that we, as a group, have our most old-fashioned members to thank for having a future at all.

    So, how does that feel?

  • Four generations from now, there will be NO Jews who will be able to say, “I have Reform ancestors” or, “I have Conservative ancestors”. The one or two in the crowd don’t count. Look at the pie chart.

    Every Jew alive then will be able to say, (as we can all say now, too), “I have Orthodox ancestors”.

    If we were sacrificing our fertility for some marvelous cause, that would be one thing. But this is like Masada without the principles.

  • I think the Israeli dynamic is markedly different. In Israel, it is easy to be secular and still be an integral part of a Jewish culture by default. It is darn near impossible to do the same in the States today. It was really easy to do this in the 1920’s and 1930’s with a vibrant and prolific Yiddish Secularist movement.

  • ybocher, thank you! Your spelling has muchly improved and I appreciate it. 🙂

  • No problem patty-cake. I happy to be at your service and able to make you at least a little happier.

    Hey Jobber! You see? So here is bey adam l’chaveri by an orthodox. Oh no! What if “they” are not all so bad????

    I love you brother. Is there anything I can do for you??

  • Jewish Mom! Dont argue with them. You are so old-fashioned! You and your old Polish nobelmen robe! Dont you understand? This so called “study” sponsored by some ultras prooves nothing. Look at the real studies. They show you the real situation. (Dont ask me where to find them though.) There is no problem with decreasing number of Jewish babies being born! Mom, why cant you get it? This is all orthodox education extremists/zionists/Jewish lobbists propaganda. They just want to full us all and make us all have more sex in confinements of our marriages and our homes! Dont you see? They want to take our freedom! Freedom of not being Jewish whenever we want to. Freedom of staying single. Freedom of not focusing on children while we still want to focus on ourselves. Freedom of kvetching that there is bad situation and only if the Jewish fundamentalist would let go their archaic believes we would all be happy.

    Last but not least – who wants to be a kike today anyway??

    truly yours Jmom

  • The descendants of Orthodox/Modern Orthodox Jews could end up joining the Conservative or Reform movements, and bolster their continuity. 4 remainding descendants of the original 100 Reform Jews 4 generations later doesn’t necesarilly mean that in 4 generations there will only be 4 Reform Jews for every 100 Reform Jews today.

  • #

    Just looking at some of the other articles on the same website: advocating shomer negiah, attacks on evolution, negative portrayal of non-Orthodox Judaism. Doesn’t sound like a place where they would host a value-neutral study. This doesn’t mean that the study is invalid,

    Ayuba etc,

    The study is not invalid because of the site (tho that does make it suspect- actually I confess I never got far enough to notice). It is invalid methodology wise.

  • 1) “Reform”, “Orthodox”, etc. aren’t genetic classifications. People have the power to change these identifications at will. Those who are intermarried are more likely to join the Reform movement, because Reform communities are more welcoming to intermarried families. And many of the non-Jewish spouses become Jewish.

    2) And if you say “No they don’t – Reform conversions don’t actually make them Jewish”… well, if the Orthodox set the rules for “who is a Jew”, then it’s a tautology that, under these rules, the Orthodox community will produce more Jews!

    3) What Lipman said above about “racially pure” Jews. Let’s cross out any descendants of Moses, David Hamelech, and the tribes of Ephraim and Menashe.

    4) Obviously there exist Jews in America with minimal Jewish identity (no value judgment here — with discussions like these, I can hardly blame them), and this category is less likely to marry a Jew than the general Jewish population. This category also has a significant chance of responding to a survey question with “Reform”, under the misconception that “Reform” is a synonym for “secular”. Similarly, they might answer “Conservative”, based on the shul that they attended twice a year in childhood. It is unlikely that many people answered “Orthodox” under similar circumstances, so the comparison is not valid.

    5) The Jewish identity of a couple and their children is based on choices that they make, not some kind of quantum probability with a wavefunction determined by population data. If you’re concerned about how many Jews there will be in the next generation, give them a reason to want to be Jewish. Clearly these Chicken Little prognostications aren’t motivating them.

  • If the results are really true, how come there are more “non religious” than “religous”jews today? Isn’t the author forgetting that people change, and they become more or less religous? That people affiliate and unaffiliate from a “stream”?

  • Four generations from now, there will be NO Jews who will be able to say, “I have Reform ancestors” or, “I have Conservative ancestors”. The one or two in the crowd don’t count. Look at the pie chart.

    My kids are 4th generation Conservative Jews. Please don’t marginalize the committed members of Conservative communities- they’re still going to be here generations from now.

    Every Jew alive then will be able to say, (as we can all say now, too), “I have Orthodox ancestors”.

    True- I have Orthodox ancestors whose women didn’t go to school, whose wives worked long hours in sweatshops so that they didn’t have to take jobs beneath their own standing, who did such a great job of promoting Jewish practice that as soon as they were out of the shadow of the shtetl, their kids left Orthodoxy without a backwards glance. Yep, there’s a proud heritage.

    There’s a big difference between sepia-toned fantasies and reality. Orthodoxy was a great, big thing back when you couldn’t sneeze without the whole community saying “gezundheit”. But don’t ever get the idea that everyone was singin’ & dancin’ like in Fiddler on the Roof.

  • Judi – 65 and older people have to go to another site, where THEIR FREAKING ALZHEIMER’S INDUCED DELUSIONS about the state of Ortho Jewish world today suddenly zaps back to those wonder years of 1890 that you are pretending to have baggage with…Jsirpicco again states; look around you, woman – where is the growth, the vibrancy, the creativity in Judaism today?? Believe me – it ain’t in your local Conservative Temple…don’t LIE!!!!! I’VE BEEN TO THEM…

    I SEE the decrepit state of what’s going on…Puhleeze what is wrong with some statisticall predictions?

    And anyway jsirp has the solution to this whole discussion….if you want to prove this study wrong and beat the demographic trends,my friends, then JOIN THE FREAKING PRAYER CIRCLE FORMING AT and put yerself and yer daugthers and yer sons on that list so people can keep them in their hearts for prayers to find a mate and begin beating those dirty smelly Orthos at their own game!!!!!Duh.

  • How come in every community where there becomes a substantial Charedi growth in NA, there are scandals, and more scandals. In Passaic, there is a group called Yad Basya that is under investigation, and also in Passaic there is violence there against Hatozla by Yeshiva people. in Lakewood and also Passaic there is constant illegal building? THere are new scandals all the time? So does this hypocracy turn people off? Maybe not. The BT’s are in all streams of Judaism. But the Orthodox are constantly bragging about how great their life styles are. So others feel shoved aside as if they don’t count. I am only telling you what I hear all the time.
    There is vibrancy in many Conservative shules, don’t believe Sipis lies. I have also seen the growth there. Let us try to stop bragging all the time Sipico you only turn people off, now there’s a job for ya.

  • j- sorry to disappoint you, but I’m still a gazillion years from getting my AARP card. No delusions here- reality is fine for me. I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you on this issue. My shul is “growing, vibrant and creative”- we have a large turnout on Shabbos and we have a large constituency that can lein and assume shaliach tsibur duties at the drop of a yarmulke. Don’t believe me? Pick up a copy of “Thirteen and a Day” and see if you can tell which shul is ours. We’re the future, baby.

  • Man, I’m sick of this kind of stuff.

    1.) We’re not dissappearing. Hashem said otherwise, and people spouting doomsday studies aren’t going to keep your children from assimilating. On the contrary, your lack of optimism is totally un-Jewish and contradicts the Torah, and it will only force them away from Torah. SO STOP CONCENTRATING ON STUPID NUMBERS! We are not our numbers. We are our combined efforts. Making more Jews is so not as important as finding ways to inspire the Jews that are around to heed their purpose! Where does it ever say “Moshiach will come when there are a whole bunch of Jews”. Never.

    Face it. Times HAVE changed. That doesn’t mean Judaism has changed, but its clear that people have. People no longer are content to accept a religion just to propogate the family tradition. They want it to have a PURPOSE. And it has one, repairing the world, finding Hashem where he is hidden…but instead, you hear all this stuff about survival. Survival. NEWSFLASH: If they don’t know why it’s special to be Jewish, they won’t care if Jews survive.

    2.) I won’t be able to control the lifestyle choices my children (should Hashem grant me such a blessing) make in adulthood. All I can do is try to be the best parent and Jew I can. They may follow my example, and stay with the religion, or they may not. But I do believe that the ONLY way I could have any influence over such things is to lead by EXAMPLE. If a father tells his son to study Torah, and the father neglects his study of Torah, do you know what that tells the son? Torah is for children.

    3.) While I acknowledge the ideal situation would be that I marry a nice Jewish girl in my teens and make babies until it’s no longer humanly possible, this is not always a practical reality for everyone (including me). I am not responsible for repopulating world Jewry.

    So you can keep your “oh-no-we’re-vanishing” statistics.

  • History progresses in cycles. The flight from Orthodoxy wasn’t necessarily just an issue of assimilation for the sake of assimilation. It was a direct response to the failure of traditional Judaism at the time to address the serious social and philosophical conflicts that came to a head in the 18-20th centuries. Meaning, for many people it wasn’t that they didn’t understand the beauty of traditional Judaism, but rather they actively rejected it.

    In the early 20th century, most Jewish thinkers had written off the orthodox as a viable lifestyle and predicted its imminent demise. Today the pendulum is swinging the other way – many people are abandoning faith in rationalism and are looking for the mysticism, spirituality and comfort of the traditional Jewish lifestyle. So the same studies that predicted that the orthodox would disappear by 2000 are now saying they will be the only ones thriving.

  • The vibrancy in the liberal Jewish world is happening outside the major movements. So visiting the local Reform or Conservative shul (in most places) won’t provide a fair measure of it.

  • (Science and rationalism do not conflict with Torah in any way, if you go deeply enough into both science and Torah. In my extremely uneducated and humble opinion. Science is fascinating and useful; Torah is truth; what is so hard about that? It’s all G-d’s! G-d made evolution happen, no problem. All week we study the Facts, on Friday night we proclaim the Truth; no problem. Close the lab on Saturday. No problem. Two different subjects. People are too literal-minded. Judaism precedes modern science by huge time; it was the hope of the world long before modern science, and it still is. Modern science is a gift of G-d, to be used in a Torah-aware way, if you have a taste for science. But it’s OK to just stay in kolel, and confine yourself to Torah, too. mumble mumble. what do I know.)

  • Judi, there are women who honor Torah so much that they are willing to make enormous sacrifices to keep their husbands studying it. There are women who do not see this as unfair. Like the historic Akiva’s wife. Some people find this awful and exploitative. But some do not. Our grandmothers were not necessarily a bunch of oppressed women.

    There were huge pressures on people to work on Saturday, or starve. Some caved in, and some did not. That was part of why some left orthodoxy in the old days. And a desire for material advancement.

    Just saying.

  • Barefoot woman… my point was to tell you that you were misinformed when you said, “The “study” is bogus. Totally unscientific.” If you read through the information you will see that it is not “bogus” but is in fact authentic.

  • Thanks Esther.
    During the time of the Second Bais HaMidgdash Jews who claimed to be “the right hand of Gd” were turned into the Romans and then hung on crosses and crucified in public.
    50 years ago they were institutionalized for life.
    Today they are just prescribed medication and verbally crucified on the internet.
    Gotta love modern progress!

  • Speaking of AKiva’s wife I don’t understand why this story is so gevaldig. That he was away studying for 12 years, came home, heard his wife saying to a neighbor that she would be happy that he studies for another 12 years, so he doesn’t even say hello, goes off to Yeshiva for 12 more big ones. What is the concept here, why do people get all misty eyes when they tell this story? Is this something to strive for? I can’t relate at all to this, sorry. PPPM.

  • I brought Akiva’s wife up as an example of a kind of wife that still exists – not to say that people should imitate every detail of her life. I don’t have your learning. I don’t know the mishna. But I am not backing away from my point.

    There are young women today who will not even consider a marrying a young man who does not want to learn Torah full time. They are not necessarily all from wealthy families, either.

    Jewish women have energy.

    They can work hard, and well, and they can field a bunch of children, and some can do both at the same time.

    They are a fiery-eyed, tough-minded, idealistic, high-energy population, and smart, too. They streamline operations and spell each other.

    And their hearts burst with love for something outside themselves; they are ferociously generous. They will have you fed, warm, and doing well in school before you know what hit you.

    After their children grow up, they collect stuffed toys for poor children overseas. One I know was buried under an avalanche of thousands of teddy bears after mentioning it to a few friends; they send them abroad at their own expense, and they keep coming.

    Our women are amazing people. They keep it all going. They WANT to. Just get in their way. You will be flattened.


  • The Jewish people won’t disappear because it is not G-d’s will. To implement His will, he has fielded the Jewish woman.

    So get busy.

    You know who you are.


  • And remember, girls: do your patriotic duty for our boys overseas! It’s the American Jewish way!

  • Why not? I’m a boy. I’m overseas.

    But actually I wasn’t trying to appeal for intercontinental nookie, I was trying to point out that Jewish Mother’s posts occasionally sound like 1940s propaganda newsreels, only instead of beseeching American girls to become Rosie the Riveter while the boys are fighting the Huns, she beseeches Jewish girls to start getting knocked up and making cholent.

  • Why does Jewlicious constantly hype itself as having the answers the community so desperately needs, when its content could come straight out of the Jewish community’s ossified playbook?

    Arguing amongst yourselves about “continuity” and “zero population growth” brought on by those who stray from, well, from you, you’re as insular as the grey-haired leaders of the Jewish community. Mazal tov! You really should be invited to their big retreats. You’d fit right in.

  • We have the answers? I wish! All I personally bring to the table is a solution that makes sense to me personally, based on what’s worked pretty well in the past. And in that respect I speak only for myself and not the other bloggers that post on Jewlicious. So really Jewlicious doesn’t hype itself as anything. We’re just shooting the shit.

    The whole point of Jewlicious, see, is that while we’re shooting the shit, we continue to be super fantastic individuals. The point of Jewlicious is that there aren’t enough people shooting the shit about Judaism. I really don’t care what denomination or stream or whatever aspect of Judaism people are chatting about, as long as there is dialogue. That’s all WE are advocating.

    Oh yea one other thing about Jewlicious is the proposition that Jewish dialogue is actually cool. Just as cool, if not cooler than any crap you might talk about with your friends at your local trendy hipster cafe, you know, the one with the cute barrista with dreads? Yeah. That one.

    OK? Are we clear?

    Oh and if those fat cats ever do invite us to one of there fancy shmancy Jewdo get togethers, I promise, we will totally rock the house.

  • “Marry a Jew and keep the tradition” did indeed work in the past, and it is indeed what the grey-haired men running the Jewish community have been proposing for decades now, and it’s gotten nobody nowhere.

    I don’t go to trendy hipster cafes — that’s like the trust fund stereotype — but in my opinion, reactionaries insulting the non-Orthodox is only “cool” if you’re a reactionary yourself.

  • Get with the program Curious. The old fogies are as secular as the night is black. Steinhardt is an atheist, Edgar Bronfman, the other King of the Jews, has been married to non-Jewesses (3 of his 5 marriages). Bronfman basically advocated that anyone who wants to be a Jew should be a Jew regardless of any halachic requirements.

    That’s what the old gray hairs are advocating. They’re looking for easy, quickie solutions to stem the tide of American Jewish shrinkage – despite immigration, American Jews have lost 300,000 people in the last decade. That’s what scares them and they’re throwing money around willy nilly looking for any solution to their dilemna. But even they admit that this is a problem for secular Jews. The Orthodox Jews already have the answer but no one wants to, you know, do all that boring Jewish stuff.

    So Curious – if you have a better solution or something more interesting or whatever, let me know. This is an open forum after all.

  • My solution is not to fret. This is evolution, after all. I’m 90 percent atheist, and the 10 percent is only “just in case.” If the Jewish people are shrinking — the vast majority moving on to other things, the minority of those who believe in Jewish mythology continuing to carry the torch of religious life — so be it. Because the thing all these “you’re killing the religion” people fail to grasp is that the vast majority of secular Jews consider the idea of Torah-coming-from-Sinai as preposterous as the idea of Jesus-coming-back-from-death or Mohammad-ascending-to-heaven or whatever the Dianetics freaks cooked up.

    I’m saying, stop lamenting the demise of the Jews. It’s evolution, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing that most Jews no longer believe that tzitzit have mystical properties.

    If I ever get married, it would be nice if it’s with a Jew b/c of shared culture and just in case the 10 percent ever expands. But really, there are more important things in this too-tragic life to worry about than perpetuating a religion I consider to be a vestige of another age. And yet, despite all this — despite being considered another statistical suicide in the minds of the general Jewlicious commentator — I feel a profound connection to Judaism. I know, I know, the reactionaries are scoffing “He cannot feel anything if he doesn’t follow Maimonides’s precepts of faith.” And others are scoffing “Another bagels and pickles Jew.” Whatever makes you feel special about yourselves. My connection to Judaism is about struggle, about ideas, about literature, about shared experience not so much of Sinai or the Priestly Era but of the past 250 years. It’s about Franz Kafka being honest about the death of spirituality. It’s about Marek Edelman insisting that every life he saves as a cardiologist is a victory over the God who abandoned him in the Warsaw Ghetto. None of this is sufficient to perpetuate a people, this is true. But that’s not my goal, and I resent the assumption that the goals of Jewlicious commentators are necessarily the goals for every Jew out there.

    I concede your point about the old fogies; I confused you with them b/c of the obsession with declining numbers. But the assumption that the only solution to the Jewish “predicament” is Orthodoxy — and that those of us who turn away from it are doing so because it’s “boring Jewish stuff” — is just insulting. I don’t observe Shabbat not b/c it’s “boring” or too much of a sacrifice. I don’t observe Shabbat b/c I cannot take the leap of faith that Orthodoxy — any religion’s Orthodoxy — requires to believe that our actions affect the divine. And as long as Jewlicious commentators fail to respect the genuine, authentic views of non-Orthodox Jews, you’re just going to continue talking amongst yourselves.

  • There’s an oral tradition that has been passed down from Mother to Daughter that says that Akiva’s wife was getting shtupped by the butcher while he was away and getting the best cuts of meat at a discount. At least that’s what I’m telling my daughters if they ever bring me home that story and a kollelnick when they get older.

  • Careful what you wish for!!!
    Curious you have not been reading enough of the posts here. there are many who share your views. I assure you that you are welcome at the end. drink up!

  • Curious! you did get me curious…I am curious myself now.
    Why … ck! I want money for doing your pr… dont you read what ck was saying. Did he say anything about orthodoxy? He said any kind of Jewish goes on here. Just please take some time to read a little bit and check out which kinda Jewishness doesnt get bashed here and which doesnt get praised. You dont think muffti doesnt represent your atheism well enough? So speak! Oh you already said your piece. It sounded so arbitrary. But you just another part of a spectrum here. FIne you care about Jews just as much as I care about Yankees. Maybe You care a little bit more as I am not planning to marry any of those boys.
    I havent found any comments on Jewlicious saying that you are not a good Jew if you dont follow Rambam. Maybe only jsirpico will give you his piece of mind for not signing his list.
    Live and let live. Jewish believes ar for you equal to the dianeticks bs. Wow I am sorry for you man.
    I love Marek Edelman. I think he is a real hero but he didnt fight just for the legacy of Kafka. He was a member of the Bund which was a Jewish party. He was all for the Jewish cause. He went through things that we should be never able even to imagine. And he is still all for jewish cause. Not just Jewish film festivals.
    If your goal is not to perpetuate the Jewish people then what/who do you want to perpetuate? Or you think that your life is just about you?
    I think you are wrong in your ideals. I think that you fooling youself if you think that you any more objective on the matter than let’s say….me. Does mean that I m disrecpectful?

    And btw I think you should marry only a nice Jewish girl!

  • Wow Chutzpah! I got to admit that you put your words where your nickname is!!! This was pretty nasty. But you know I whish you alot of chaztlacha in building strong relationship with your daughter after the kollelnick she liked enough to bring him home dumps her.

  • ybocher,
    I’ve repeatedly, ad nauseum, read posts on Jewlicious insulting the non-Orthodox. As for ck’s post and comments, he gave the usual line that only the Orthos are the guardians of the Jewish future. Hell, maybe he’s right.

    I don’t see why your compulsion to reproduce means you care about the Jews more than I do, or that because I don’t believe in the Sinai myth that I care about Jews as much as you care about the Yankees.

    If you haven’t seen the posts I’m referring to, then you haven’t read the messages on Jewlicious the past 3 weeks if not the past full year.

    Don’t feel sorry for me, man. I’m quite alright.

    I didn’t say Edelman was fighting for Kafka OR for film festivals — and that distortion is the exact kind of “bagels and lox” cultural caricature I see here all the time, thanks man — I used Edelman and Kafka as two independent sources of Jewish inspiration for me. And Edelman is in constant war with God. Read “Shielding the Flame.” He’s shielding it from God. What an amazing, radical, and inherently Jewish concept.

    I don’t think the goal of Jews is necessarily to perpetuate Jews, and I certainly don’t think the disinclination to procreate is “selfishness.” My life is not only about me, and only a person so entrenched in dogma could even imply that not having children = selfishness. In fact, one could easily argue that those who have kids are living a life that’s “only about them.” So terrified of their own mortality that they want to recreate themselves. But I’m not making that argument b/c I think it’s specious and simplistic. I’m just saying that your argument is specious as well.

    I never said I was more objective than, say, you. I just said I don’t like the snide dismissal of secular Jews I constantly see on this site.

  • Curious: You are curiously presumptuous. Lets start with your conclusion…

    I don’t observe Shabbat b/c I cannot take the leap of faith that Orthodoxy — any religion’s Orthodoxy — requires to believe that our actions affect the divine.

    Heh, I observe the sabbath because it’s great. I don’t think my deity derives sustenance from my prayers or rest or observance. G*d is, you know, omniscient and omnipotent. The sabbath is a gift. Really. Even by secular humanist standards. I mean really evolved hipsters celebrate Buy Nothing day once a year, we celebrate it every week – and it is liberating and restful and all that. The sabbath is my sustenance. Our actions affect each other and the world around us. That’s what my religion is all about.

    So now let me bounce around a bit…

    I know, I know, the reactionaries are scoffing “He cannot feel anything if he doesn’t follow Maimonides’s precepts of faith.” And others are scoffing “Another bagels and pickles Jew.” Whatever makes you feel special about yourselves.

    Well as the king of the reactionaries here let me tell you what I’ve told others a thousand times before. It is entirely possible that your 10% Judaism is more legitimate and brings you closer to G*d than my Judaism and that’s by my reactionary standards. I would never presume to tell you how to lead your life or that I have an inside track to a better way or that I am a better Jew or anything. I learnt that lesson in a very humbeling manner and if you want I will repeat the story again. But the point is the way I live works for me. I like it. I like being Jewish and I am very thankful and appreciative for all the effort expended by those before me to give me this gift.

    I’d like to pass this gift on to my future generations. The best way I know to do that is through traditional Judaism. You wanna chill with Kafka? Great! I’ve read Spinoza and Primo Levi and the secular Jewish canon and my Judaism is still just as rich as yours. Do what you want to do. I seriously wish you well. I may have hard time understanding how you can say you are a genuine and authentic Jew who doesn’t care abut the survival of Judaism, but hey, that’s your trip. I am just talking about my trip and, for the record, my opinion is my opinion alone and is not shared by every poster on Jewlicious. Muffti is what, an atheist? An agnostic? Esther’s kinda Conservadox I guess, Michael and Laya have their own struggles and TheMiddle is definitely not Orthodox. You should know that curious – this isn’t the first time you’ve been here after all, eh?

    But I digress (as I often do). I think what we’re trying to do here is stimulate discussion and 123 posts later… mission accomplished. I appreciate your comments but just don’t try to represent Jewlicious as some kind of monolith and don’t try to put words in my mouth that I never said.

  • Curious: And you’re a prolific commentator too! OK. Here we go again. When did I insult other streams of Judaism? Those streams are simply not for me. And I explained why. I also conceded that I may very well be wrong. I mean why do some people choose to affiliate with reconstructionist Judaism instead of Reform? Or conservative Judaism instead of straight up secularism? They have their ideas and opinions and it all boils down to is that they manifest their Judasim in a way that is comfortable for them. That’s all I’m saying. And for that I get branded a reactionary and you call my beliefs myths? Or is it simply that you have a problem with Orthodox Judaism? I mean is my very existence an affront to you? It’s odd because I do not believe in Jesus or Mohamed but my Muslim and X-tian friends respect my beliefs and would never say the things you’ve said. But I guess open mindedness and acceptance is reserved for people that don’t offend you. How convenient.

    Well Curious, let me tell you. You offend me. But I respect your right to express your opinions and in fact I am paying for the forum and the bandwidth that allows you to insult me and my values.

    Snide? Insulting? I think you’re projecting. Please, since they are so ubiquitous, please show me posts or comments where I have been snide and insulting to secular Jews.

    I’m waiting. I have all night.

  • Relax man. I’m really not trying to disrespect you, and I don’t see where I “insulted” you above. If it’s about the “mythology,” I find it difficult to explain my position without referring to Sinai type stories as mythology. Because sometimes when I’m talking to Orthodox people, seriously, they act like I’m not “ready” — or, as you said, I consider it to be “boring.” So I like to make it clear from the outset that to me, it’s not an issue of readiness but of belief.

    If this insults or offends you, I apologize, seriously. I’m not looking to fight or flame or whatever that’s called. And your existence is not an affront to me. I couldn’t care less what you believe, I just don’t like the tone of some of the postings on this site.

    Anyway, you want examples. I’m looking back now, and this is probably the post that stuck in my head and ticked me off:

    Specifically, your remark:

    “Who do most American Jews look to for spiritual leadership? For the most part we’re talking about uh… “Rabbis” who cannot read a page of Gemarah, whose Hebrew is fractured or non-existent, and who some times do not even bellieve in G*d.”

    That’s extremely insulting and offensive to non-Orthodox rabbis, period. Do you not see how that is insulting? Just the use of quotation marks to show that they’re not authentic would infuriate non-Orthodox rabbis. And do you really believe there are rabbis out there who don’t know any Hebrew?

    That ticked me off.

    Anyway, as I indicated above, I wasn’t talking only about you personally, but about the endless comments, including those in the most commented posts, insulting the secular. Sure, they don’t speak for all the posters, but they certainly are vocal here. So I thought it would be nice to respond.

  • Ok ck I see you do your own PR much better.

    Curious I just wanted to say that you are right – the example of the Yankees wasnt good as i dont care for them at all.
    But otherwise I dont agree. The Culture that you marvel so much was shaped by people who were born to Jewish parents. If you not perpetuating the Jewish nation you do not perpetuate the Jewish culture. Even more than that. Jews have contributed so much to world civilization. Let’s see the theory of relativity, the magic mountain and the ET and the wedding march. You want to deprive the mankind of more Jewish contributions???
    So maybe at least you should marry Jewish.
    I personally (respectful enough?) belive it is not enough. I think there is a degree of seperation from the “Sinai myth” beyond which we get desolve in the multitude of the nations and disappear. And this is not cool whatever your denomination is.

    I spoke to Marek Edelman and I do agree with you that all his rebelion agaists G-d is inherently Jewish.
    I dont agree with you that jewlicious is bias. But your observation is interesting as I always thought there is more anti-orthodox coments. So you see there is prrobably everything, just depends what you are looking for.
    So you feel disrespected, huh? I am sorry.
    So what should I do? I am just suppose to say that i acknowledge our diffrences in the outlook on mosaic etnicity. Would this be respectful enough?
    What you call myth is my tangible reality and the very thing i breathe. You know it kinda feels itchy when you call it myth. But it s ok because it is fine with me that you have totally opinion. But when you compare what our ancestors were dying for with thigs like dianetics that kinda hurts. But it s ok – It s Jewlicious,

    ck – kol hakavod.

  • C’mon that is what ticked you off???
    When i read it first think I thought is “wow! he is right. do i know enough hebrew? maybe i d better go and learn some gemarah. thanks G-d that at least i believe in G-d”.
    I thought he was speaking (nebach) about all kinds of rabbis including some orhtodox rabbis too.

  • A monolith this is not. And I think that’s one of the only things that we all do agree on!

    Jewlicious is a community of the best kind; diverse and mostly tolerant of what other people believe. I use the qualifier of mostly, because there have been a few posts that I think dance dangerously close to negating the commitment of the differently affiliated. Even this happens not because of any hatred of another group but out of personal, passionate beliefs.

    As someone who is “kinda Conservadox, I guess,” (which is unfortunately fairly accurate) there are things about Orthodoxy that make me uncomfortable, and things about Shabbat and traditional observance that are difficult for me right now, which I’ve discussed before, hereand elsewhere, probably more openly than I ever have in my extra-blogular life. In fact, that whole discussion had its roots in a post that started here on Jewlicious, as an outgrowth of the Jewlicious at the Beach conference, which united Jewish students and presenters of all stripes.

    So, to paraphrase Shakespeare:
    If we bloggers have offended,
    think but this and all is mended:
    that we have just slumbered here
    while these comments did appear.
    Our love of Jews was of pure intent…
    offense may be taken, but none was meant.

    Here’s to a solid ten percent. Whatever that means to you.

  • ybocher,

    Sorry about the dianetics comparison. As for myth, it really is important for me at least to be clear that my Jewish observance, or lack thereof, is not about laziness, or readiness, or boredom, but about what I believe. Some people say that Judaism does not require Christianity’s leap of faith. I disagree. The details of the leap are much different of course, but (Orthodox) Judaism really does require a leap of faith to believe that the events of the Torah, particularly the events regarding God’s interaction with humans, are true. So in order to make it clear that I do not believe in those things, I refer to those things as myths. Sorry if it offended you.

    Yes, I appreciate you acknowledging our differences in the Mosaic outlook.

    Take care.

  • Not to interrupt a some perfectly good sectarian rants, but if you look closely at the numbers presented in this little study, it is clear that most of the “loss” of Jews is due to low birth rates. The intermarriage rates merely exacerbate things.

    Consider, for instance, what would happen if we assumed that all of these groups had the same spectacular intermarriage rate as the Orthodox (3%), but still had the birthrates quoted in the article. For simplicity assume that everyone marries wthin their own denomination, and that none of the offspring of intermarriages count as Jews. By the fourth generation, we would have:
    O: 2991
    MO: 385
    C: 69
    R: 58
    U: 49

    Now, consider what happens if we keep the current intermarriage rates, but assume every couple is as prolific as the haredi with 6.2 kids. We get after 4 generations:
    O: 2991
    C: 821
    R: 340
    U: 73

    Remember, this is assuming that all of the intermarriage kids do not identify as Jews, an assumption that clearly underestimates them; at least a [I]few[/I] of them are likely to come back into the fold. If we assume that even a measly 15% of the intermarried kids end up as Jews, and all couples still have 6.2 kids:
    O: 3022
    C: 1060
    R: 541
    U: 193

    The take home message: intermarriage rates obviously do make a difference here, but the population can actually withstand very high rates of intermarriage as long as the birth rate stays very high. On the other hand, if birth rates drop below replacement, no amount of kvetching about intermarriage will prevent population loss.

  • Thanks for crunching the numbers Balagan.

    The population decline is happening all over the world. Even in poor countries like Mexico and India the birth rate is declining sharply as women become more educated and get access to birth control.

    So its not really a strictly Jewish phenomenon.

  • Eh, I meant “birth rate decline” instead of population decline above.

    Birth rates are declining everywhere but population decline hasn’t really kicked in yet in most places.

  • Thank you Yoav! Now when we have correct figures finnaly we were succesful to decrease the orthodox share in the future generations by 7%!!!
    Now can somebody come and say that this corrected study is also a bogus. Please anybody?

  • Curious, you will fit right in. Kafka! Shakespeare! What a thread.

  • Say NO to Jewish intermarriage and assimilation
    It is intermarriage and assimilation that brought about the demise of over 6 million Jews during World War II.
    I hope people will realize that it is imperative that the Jewish people will maintain their Jewish identity and denounce assimilation.
    The Jewish tradition has survived for thousands of years due to our non-assimilation. Let us keep it that way, or else we are on our way to extinction.
    The World today has basically abandoned family values and morality. The institution of Marriage is minimized, while manners and respect is being ignored.
    Marrying outside the faith. “But spiritually it’s a tragedy. It’s all about keeping our Jewish lineage, bringing up Jewish children. And you just can’t do that by marrying out.”
    The silent holocaust is a phrase that is used to describe – Certain Jewish communal and religious leaders have used this term when they describe the assimilation and intermarriage of Jews with gentiles.

    For Jews, “marrying within the faith” isn’t a cultural preference or prejudice. Rather, it is one the commandments G-d gave us at Mount Sinai. A Jew who marries a non-Jew transgresses a Torah prohibition.
    The practice of not “intermarrying” is in fact one of the oldest features of Judaism. It dates back to Abraham telling Eliezer, his servant, not to find a wife for his son from the Canaanites. It continues with Isaac’s command to his son Jacob not to marry the “daughters of the land.” The practice is mentioned in the Bible as a legal prohibition, and is also part of the covenant that Ezra the scribe had the Jews make when they rebuilt the Temple after the Babylonian Exile.
    In all the above cases the underlying idea of the prohibition seems to be ideological. As Jews, we have a unique identity that is connected to our purpose in the world. We are the “chosen people.” We were chosen to propagate the ethical monotheism of Judaism.
    In the words of Leo Tolstoy:
    “The Jew is that sacred being who has brought down from heaven the everlasting fire, and has illumined with it the entire world. He is the religious source, spring, and fountain out of which all the rest of the peoples have drawn their beliefs and their religious. The Jew is the pioneer of liberty. The Jew is the pioneer of civilization. The Jew is the emblem of eternity.”
    We were chosen as a permanent protest group against idolatry and immorality. Intermarriage is therefore antithetical to the Jewish purpose and to the Jewish identity.
    Being Jewish isn’t a cultural affiliation or a tradition. It’s being part of the Chosen People. That means a commitment to the responsibility given to us by G-d at Sinai. Someone who understands this will obviously choose a partner who is likewise committed. Otherwise, it’s entering a relay race, but choosing a partner who’s running towards a different finish line.
    Whom you marry affects every single aspect of your life. It affects your community. It affects your children. It affects all future generations. The Jewish home is the single most important establishment in Jewish life. It outweighs any synagogue or temple, even the Holy Temple built by King Solomon. By marrying a non-Jew one thereby ends over 3,000 years of Jewish continuity, effectively cutting oneself and one’s offspring off from what it means to be Jewish.
    There have been many other arguments offered against intermarriage. Below is a summary of some of the most famous.
    1. Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, 12 million were left afterwards. Today there are only 13 million Jews in the world. Where are the rest that by natural increase should number close to 20 million? The answer is that the silent holocaust of assimilation has caused them to disappear as Jews.
    2. Intermarriages are twice as likely to end in divorce as same-faith marriages (75% divorce rate!). Some reasons for this are the different identities of the spouses and the differences in culture and family. For example a Jew will naturally turn his head at the mention of “Israel” and “Jew.” A gentile who converts in a superficial and insincere conversion only for the sake of marriage does not create a new identity that is now Jewish.
    3. One is granting a victory to anti-Semites who seek to destroy the Jewish people. Think of what has been sacrificed in the past by our own ancestors to keep their Judaism. And think of the heritage that is being sacrificed for the sake of personal reasons.
    Ultimately, however, all Jews must have a sense of pride in their own identity. We cannot define ourselves by foreign ideologies, nationalities or religions. As a great author once wrote:
    “Pride is faith in the idea that G-d had when He made us. A proud man is conscious of the idea, and aspires to realize it. He does not strive towards a happiness, or comfort, which may be irrelevant to G-d’s idea of him. His success is the idea of G-d, successfully carried through, and he is in love with his destiny People who have no pride are not aware of any idea of G-d in the making of them, and sometimes they make you doubt that there has ever been much of an idea, or else it has been lost, and who shall find it again? They have got to accept as success what others warrant to be so, and to take their happiness, and even their own selves, at the quotation of the day. They tremble with reason before their fate.”
    Let us not live by the “quotation of the day” but rather by our own heritage, the Torah. When Jews study Torah, and identify as Jews they are really just returning to their true selves.
    “Who lets Untruth exist without protest, Himself becomes supporter of Untruth.”

  • Ok…But what if I’m a gentile and I marry a Jewish man…and convert. Live a decent Jewish live & keep the faith. What is wrong with that?

    Besides Ruth was a gentile & was more loyal & decent than most Jewish girl. She looked after her mother in-law even after her husband had died. She then married Boaz who she had children with.
    She was dedicated to God & looked after her mother-in-law who was Jewish…..

    I think it’s very racist in many ways. Relationship is built on love, trust & understanding. So if you with so one who has no love for you, trust or there is no understanding then what are you doing together. But if you are in relationship that has all these things then for sure there will be compromise.

    If you are Jew and you believe in your faith so much so, but fall in love with a gentile “deeply”, it is your minds eye that needs to see if that gentile will take from your faith or will give. There after it is God’s gift to us – CHOICE – Whether or not you are strong enough to stand your ground or you just give in. But like I said the Jewish community has intermarried alot and there has been many men & women that have converted & lived a Jewish life in the jewish faith & have been strong than Most Jews from birth.

    Yes I do believe & understand the being Jewish is for a lot of Jewish people a great responsibilty. By this I mean keeping the faith & people together & trying to live a life give by God in the Torah as well as also trying to live a life you face with today. Being Seventh Day Adventist I was denied alot of things because I had to keep the Sabbath Holy. This ment no sports medals, no going out with my friends who were all secular & it ment feeling out & different. This feeling has been discribed to be by alot of my Jewish friends & family. So understand this feeling, but, I strongly believe that if you in love & your partner (including you) feeling strongly about God & his laws, then there is no reason that one shouldnt convert & get married.

    Rahab was not Jewish, she married Salmon & lived a life of faith from the moment she left Jericho.
    So though I understand the importance of preserving the Faith & God’s laws, I think it’s very wrong to say do not marry outsiders at alot, because gentiles can also be good people & be faithful to God.

    So think about that……
    But in the same breathe dont ever forget where you come from & your faith.