Category: Blog

Jewish-Gentile Couples: becoming an American majority

By: Tuvya Zaretsky

On May 11, 2021, the Pew Research Center published the findings of an eight-month survey among 4,178 Jewish Americans. Currently, 47% of all married non-Orthodox American Jews said their spouse is not Jewish. The Jewish intermarriage rates since 1980 were indicating the emerging trend.  Now we see that almost half of all American Jews are currently in mixed marriages. If that’s you, a Jewish-Gentile couple, you are soon in the overall majority.

Observed from the rate of Jewish intermarriage on a decadal basis, Jewish intermarriage is the overwhelming trend. Younger Jewish population, married between 2010 and November 2020 said 61% of their spouses are Gentiles. And that continues a rising American Jewish intermarriage tide, which first reported at a  rate above 50% in 1990. The Pew survey shows the demographic toward mixed-marriage is still trending.

The Pew Survey of American Jews showed that the American Jewish population is growing, in part because children with one Jewish parent are now identified as Jews. It said, “Among married Jews who say they have one Jewish parent, 82% have a non-Jewish spouse…” [https://pewrsr.ch/3w2sQmX]

Any population growing exponentially must adjust to significant cultural changes. Just planning a wedding has become desperately more complicated. Intermarried partners, without a faith commitment to sustain their relationship, struggle to persevere through the predictable life hardships. And couples are afraid to discuss their differing dreams for the spiritual identity of their children when they are coming from separate traditions.

Jewish-Gentile Couples has been observing the intercultural challenges of this trend for the last twenty years. We see changes in the idea of what people consider is Jewish identity. And with the cultural shift, people are asking important questions. How do I help my children, that have one Jewish parent affirm their wonderful heritage as Jews? How do we remain bonded together as a couple if we don’t agree on what marriage is? If we’re spiritual but not religious, what does our wedding ceremony mean?  How do we have discussions about what we believe in a manner that is safe for us both?

We invite you to contact us for help having those conversations by visiting the contact page.