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Negotiating the Single Life: Summary and Recommendations

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Publication Date: March 1989

Publisher(s): American Jewish Committee; American Jewish Committee

Author(s): Steven M. Cohen

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)
Social conditions (Social values)

Keywords: Jewish Outreach; Marriage; American Jews

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Aside from the goal of getting single Jews married, we are also hearing of a second sort of goal, the need to serve singles' human needs, and social needs, at various ages. And third, we hear of a need to increase the Jewish involvement of singles, particularly in the public sphere. I suggest we have heard all too little about the articulation of interest in helping single Jews be Jewish in the privacy of their homes or as individuals, rather than as members of a large organization. I think we need some attention to that area as well. My sense is that we are not confronted by ideological opposition and barriers to participation of single people in the Jewish community. Rather, we are dealing with the social profile and networks of the individuals who are typically decision-makers in Jewish life. Too often, they are isolated from the needs, problems, and concerns of people who are not like them; in this case, "not like them" means "not married with school-age kids."

One of the big fallacies in Jewish and general life is that when we see people not doing something that they ought to be doing, we immediately suspect that they are not doing it because they don't want to. They are not getting married because they don't care about families. They are not being Jewishly active because they don't care about being Jewish. It turns out that this motivational argument is largely incorrect. Our problem is to learn how to provide ways for Jews to express their Jewish commitment while they are single, even when they are not happily married to other Jews and in the midst of raising Jewish children.

In Single and Jewish: Communal Perspectives, American Jewish Committee, 1989, p.36-42.