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Jewish Identity among the Adult Children of Intermarriage: Event Horizon or Navigable Horizon?

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Publication Date: December 2004

Publisher(s): Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

Author(s): Benjamin Phillips; Fern Chertok

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Cultural heritage and preservation)
Social conditions (Marriage and family life)

Keywords: Jewish Identification; Jewish continuity; Intermarriage

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


This paper examines multiple dimensions of Jewish engagement among Jewish-identified children of intermarried parents in a multivariate context. Data from the Cohen Center's multisite survey of college campuses and the National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01 is used. Authors find that once other variables are controlled for, much of the putative impact parental intermarriage is controlled for. By contrast, children raised in multiple religions are far less likely to engage in Jewish behavior as adults while formative Jewish experiences have the same positive impact among the children of intermarriages as inmarriages. We conclude that intermarriage is not of itself an event horizon that swallows Jewish identity in later generations. Prophylaxis with day schools and informal educational experiences are particularly important, and outreach directed at supporting intermarried households' efforts to raise their children exclusively as Jews are critical communal policies.