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Publication Date: July 1997

Publisher(s): American Jewish Committee

Author(s): Jack Wertheimer

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)

Keywords: Jewish Identification; Religious Denominations; Diversity; Conversion

Type: Brief

Coverage: United States


American Jews are more than a little confused on the question of who is or who should be considered a Jew, and who has the authority to decide. Massive increase in exogamy has prompted some to reconsider traditional definitions. Despite the vaunted pluralism of American Jewry, its religious movements tend neither to accept each other's definitions of who is a Jew nor each other's converts. Jewish institutions conclude they must blur previously clear dividing lines, lest they suffer a steep decline in membership and financial support. The author opposes the advocates of "fuzzy boundaries."

In Commentary Magazine vol. 104, no. 1, pp. 24-27 (July 1997).