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Raising Jewish Children: Research and Indications for Intervention

The intermarried, non-married, and inmarried report very different levels on every Jewish identity indicator available on the Pew survey. The non-married substantially out-score the intermarried, and the inmarried substantially outscore the non-married. As the tables below show, the gaps in Jewish engagement indicators between the Jews who are inmarried and those who are intermarried are truly enormous.

To take a few examples (Table 8): As we move from intermarried to non-married to inmarried, we find increases in feeling that being Jewish is very important: 25 vs. 40 vs. 63 percent; for having mostly Jewish friends: 8 vs. 22 vs. 48 percent; for belonging to a synagogue: 12 vs. 25 vs. 70 percent; and, most critically, for the percent of one’s children being raised in the Jewish religion: 20 vs. 46 vs. 94 percent.

Raising Jewish-by-religion children is an extremely significant measure, because it is almost exclusively those being raised as Jewish-by-religion who are provided with some sort of formal and informal Jewish education. This and other studies have shown that providing children with Jewish education has a measurable impact on the Jewish connectedness of the whole family, as well as on the adult connectedness of the children involved.21 The percentages of Jewish-by-religion children is only half as high among the intermarried as the non-married, and less than a quarter as among the inmarried. We cannot know the exact extent to which marital status influences Jewish engagement or to which prior levels of engagement influences getting married, staying married, and marrying a Jew or non-Jew. The causal process operates in both directions: Marital status is closely tied to levels of Jewish engagement.

Table 8
Jewish identity indicators for non-married, intermarried and inmarried non-Haredi Jews, 25-54