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Jewish Ethnic and Religious Bonds in U.S. Reported Weakening

The Jewish ethnic and religious bonds in the United States, which had welded the immigrant Jewish generation in this country into a highly organized community, are becoming “progressively weaker” through intermarriage, it was revealed by studies published in the American Jewish Year Book for 1963 which appeared today.

The studies were summarized by Dr. Erich Rosenthal, associate professor of anthropology-sociology at Queens College. They were based chiefly on data obtained in Greater Washington and in the State of Iowa, but included a number of other studies of Jewish intermarriage throughout the United States.

Among other conclusions, Dr. Rosenthal stated, is one indicating that the “so-called return to Jewishness of the American-Jewish third generation” is not true. The data showed that the rate of intermarriage is much higher among the Jewish generations further removed from the original Jewish immigrants into the United States.

Furthermore, Dr. Rosenthal declared, the data proved that intermarriage “usually spells the end of belonging to the Jewish community. ” In Washington, he noted, the children of 70 per cent of the “mixed” families were not identified with the Jewish group.

“This finding,” he stated, “which repeats earlier European experiences, takes on special significance, if viewed against the fact that the fertility of the Jewish population in the United States is barely sufficient to maintain its present size. In the absence of large-scale immigration, it may well be that intermarriage is going to be of ever-increasing significance in the future demographic balance of the Jewish population in the United States.”

Dr. Rosenthal quoted one authority as stating that there are some towns in this country where the president of the Jewish Community Council, the chairman of the Welfare Fund and the president of the B’nai B’rith, lodge all have non-Jewish wives. The result of such examples is that the younger Jewish males of the community are likely to disregard the advice of parents and rabbi to refrain from entering into marriage with a Christian girl.

The Washington data showed that, in the area of the nation’s capital, the intermarriage rate was 13,1 per cent. In Iowa, the Jewish intermarriage rate fluctuated in the years 1953-59 from 36.3 per cent to 53.6 per cent, averaging 42.2 per cent. The rate was twice as high in small towns and rural areas as it was in cities with a population of 10, 000 or more.

To show the correlation between intermarriage and immigration, Dr. Rosenthal cited the Washington data. Here, it was noted, Jewish intermarriage was only one per cent among the first generation, which was composed of foreign-born immigrants, rising to 10.2 percent for the native-born of foreign parentage, going up to 17. 9 per cent among those native-born whose parents were also native-born.

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