Article Library / Policy Papers

Raising Jewish Children: Research and Indications for Intervention

  1. A report by Luis Lugo, Alan Cooperman, Gregory Smith et. al., A Portrait of Jewish Americans: Finding from a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews (Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center, 2013), analyzed some of the findings of the Pew survey. Our study is cognizant of this “Portrait” report, but most of the data we utilize and discuss has been newly generated by Steven M. Cohen from the larger data set.
  2. “Strategic Directions for Jewish Life: A Call to Action.” Posted on October 4, 2015,
  3. Rabbi Aaron Potek, “Beyond the Numbers, Towards the Soul,” Posted on October 4, 2015,
  4. Daniel Lehman, “The vitality of American Judaism will depend nurturing talented and thoughtful people.” Posted on October 18, 2015,
  5. David Manchester, “An Argument for Optimism,” Posted on October 8, 2015,
  6. Yehuda Kurzer, “Between Crisis and Content,” Times of Israel, October 7, 2015.
  7. Jonathan Woocher, “The ‘Statement on Jewish Vitality’: One Foundation’s Response,” Posted on October 12, 2015,
  8. Theodore Sasson, “New Analysis of Pew Data: Children of Intermarriage Increasingly Identify as Jews,” Tablet magazine, November 11, 2013; Theodore Sasson, Leonard Saxe, Fern Chertok, et. al., Millennial Children of Intermarriage: Touchpoints and Trajectories (Waltham, MA.: Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, 2015).
  9. Shlomo Fischer, commenting on the Jewish People Policy Institute 2013-2014 Annual Assessment of the Situation and Dynamics of the Jewish People (Jerusalem: JPPI, 2014), “Developments in 2013-14 in Jewish Identity and Jewish Identification,” pp. 103-112.
  10. Marshall Sklare, The Jews: Social Patterns of an American Group (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1958); Dennison Nash and Peter Berger, “The Child, the Family, and the Religious Revival in Suburbia,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 2, No. 1 (Autumn, 1962): 85-93; Robert Wuthnow, The Restructuring of American Religion: Society and Faith Since World War II (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988); Robert Wuthnow, After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010).
  11. Mary C. Waters, Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990; Robert Wuthnow, America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005); Robert Wuthnow, Growing Up Religious: Christians and Jews and their Journeys of Faith (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).
  12. Steven M. Cohen, A Tale of Two Jewries: The ‘Inconvenient Truth’ for American Jews (New York: Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation); Sylvia Barack Fishman, Double or nothing? Jewish families and mixed marriage. Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, 2008).
  13. Nash and Berger, 1962, op.cit.
  14. Wuthnow, After the Baby Boomers, pp. 86-87. 55.
  15. Harriet Hartman and Moshe Hartman, Gender and American Jews: Patterns in Work, Education & Family in Contemporary Life (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2009), p. 99. These patterns are supported in the Pew 2013 Portrait of Jewish Americans, as analyzed in Harriet Hartman, “The Jewish Family,” American Jewish Year Book 2015.
  18. Morris Axelrod and Floyd Fowler, Jr., et. al., Population Survey of the Greater Boston Jewish Community (1967), p. 39; Sherry Israel, et. al, Population Survey of the Greater Boston Jewish Community (1985), p. 18; Sherry Israel, et. al, Population Survey of the Greater Boston Jewish Community (1997), pp. 20-21.
  19. Naomi Schaeffer Riley, in Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage Is Transforming America (Oxford, 2013).
  20. Documentation is available from the authors upon request.
  21. Many chapters in Jack Wertheimer, Family Matters: Jewish Education in an Age of Choice (Waltham, MA.: Brandeis University Press/ University Press of New England, 2007) speak to these patterns, but see especially Steven M. Cohen, “The Differential Impact of Jewish Education on Adult Jewish Identity,” pp. 34-36.
  22. In point of fact, those raising Jewish children consist of two sub-groups: a minority raising their children as Jews not by religion, and a majority raising children in the Jewish religion. The former consist primarily of the intermarried with a number of non-married who presumably were once intermarried. On most measures of Jewish engagement, those raising children Jewish but not in the Jewish religion report scores very similar to those with no children. Rather than complicate matters and exclude parents of no-religion Jewish children, we include them in the “Jewish children” category. However, we need to recognize that those raising their children in the Jewish religion score even higher on the Jewish engagement indicators than the more embracing category reported in the table.
  23. Marshall Sklare, “Intermarriage and the Jewish Future,” (1964) reprinted in Jonathan Sarna, ed., Observing America’s Jews: Marshall Sklare (Waltham, MA.: Brandeis University Press, 1993).
  24. Fishman, Double Or Nothing?, op. cit.
  25. Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler, Connected: How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do (Boston: Back Bay Books/ Little Brown and Company, 2009); Charles Kadushin, Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Shaul Kelner, “School friends and camp friends: The social networks of Jewish teenagers,” Association for Jewish Studies paper, Los Angeles, 2002; Harriet Hartman and Ira Sheskin, “The Influence of community context and individual characteristics on Jewish identity: A 21-community study,” North American Jewish Data Bank 24-25 (50) (2011): 60.
  26. Michelle Shain, “Dreams and Realities: Understanding American Jewish Young Adults’ Decisions about Fertility,” in Fishman, Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families, op. cit., summarizes the recent demographic studies and adds qualitative voices in her analysis.