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Intermarriage and Jewish Leadership in the United States

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Publication Date: April 2006

Publisher(s): Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Author(s): Steven Bayme

Series: Changing Jewish Communities, no.7 (16 April 2006)

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)
Social conditions (Marriage and family life)

Keywords: Intermarriage; Jewish Continuity; Jewish Organizations; Values

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


The author asserts that intermarriage poses a dilemma to the American Jewish leadership who would prefer not to choose publicly between integration into the broader society and distinctive Jewish survival. He notes a 1991 "Statement on Mixed Marriage," adopted by the American Jewish Committee, which calls for three approaches: 1) that efforts at promoting endogamy should be encouraged; 2) when a mixed marriage occurs, the best outcome is the conversion of the non-Jewish spouse; 3) when conversion is not possible, efforts should be directed at encouraging the couple to raise their children exclusively as Jews.

He argues that all three messages are countercultural in an American society that values egalitarianism, universalism, and multiculturalism. He concludes that the ultimate challenge to Jewish leadership is to recognize its responsibility for preserving the collective welfare of the Jewish people, beyond one's personal good.