Statistics / Facts
The 2001 American Jewish Identity Survey (AJIS) reported 51% of all Jewish adults who married since 1990 were married to Gentiles. Additionally the AJIS revealed that 81% of all cohabiting Jews were living with Gentile partners.
Formerly, intermarriage was a Jewish family taboo. The 2000 Annual Jewish Opinion Survey of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) revealed a surprising shift in opinion. The majority of ordinary American Jewish families were no longer pained at the prospect of a family member marrying a Gentile. The findings from the AJC survey reported that the taboo against intermarriage has “collapsed.” However the traditional negative association still has an impact on Jewish and Gentile lives. Intermarriage of American Jewry is now fairly normal.
Social research has shown a connection between religion and marital stability. A shared religious faith is a significant factor toward building and maintaining marital stability. It is no surprise then that Jewish-Gentile interfaith marriages are at greater risk than are same-faith unions. Comparison between Jewish-Jewish marriages and Jewish-Gentile marriages shows that couples that marry “out” are twice as likely to divorce.
One sociologist quipped that taking a position for or against intermarriage was about as useful as formulating a policy for or against the weather. Questions about why Jewish-Gentile couples are becoming the American Jewish norm are less important than trying to understand “What are the challenges that Jewish-Gentile couples report as threatening their relationships and families?”
Jewish-Gentile couples describe feeling marginalized from the church and synagogue, Gentile and Jewish communities. At the same time, Jewish-Gentile couples do not want to firmly affiliate with churches, Christianity, synagogues or Judaism. Their children are less likely to fully identify as Jews. And the Jewish children of intermarried couples are more likely to do as their parents have done — marry Gentiles.
If you are a Jewish-Gentile couple, you should now know that you are not along. You are part of a large and growing segment of the American Jewish community. Your numbers are significant. Your challenges are being studied and heard. We hope that you will find some resources for the challenges right here.