World’s Jewish Population, Mixed Marriages, Emigration Analyzed in Year Book
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World’s Jewish Population, Mixed Marriages, Emigration Analyzed in Year Book

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The world’s Jewish population increased by 89,000 to an estimated 13,875,000 in 1969, intermarriage in the United States which is now estimated at between 10 and 15 percent of all marriages involving a Jewish partner are likely to increase in coming years, and concern about assimilation, materialism and anti-Semitism coupled with a strong desire “to live a Jewish life among Jews,” have been the main factors influencing Jews from the U.S. and Canada to emigrate to Israel. These are among the conclusions reached in the 1970 edition of the American Jewish Year Book, published jointly by the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Publication Society of America. Leon Shapiro, writer and lecturer of Russian-Jewish history at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, reported that the three countries with the largest Jewish populations at the end of last year were again the United States, with 5.87 million, the same as at the end of 1968; the Soviet Union, with 2.62 million, up from 2.59 million, and Israel, with 2,497 million, up from 2,436 million. Following those three, and with totals equal to those of a year earlier, were France, 535,000; Argentina, 500,000; Britain, 410,000 and Canada, 280,000. Seventy-nine percent of the world Jewish population is in the U.S., the USSR and Israel. Of Europe’s 4.03 million Jews, 2.8 million live in Communist lands. Comparison of end-of-1969 figures with end-of-1968 figures shows the following results in Europe:

Austria, down from 12,500 to 8,200; Czechoslovakia, down from 15,000 to 14,000; Denmark level at 6,000; East and West Germany, constant at 30,000; Hungary, level at 80,000; Italy, down from 35,000 to 30,000; the Netherlands, level at 30,000; Poland down from 21,000 to 15,000; Portugal, constant at 650; Rumania, continuing at 100,000, and Spain, level at 7,000. The Jewish population in Europe as a whole rose from 4,019,000 to 4,030,950. The total for North America, Central America, South America and the West Indies increased from 6,952,250 to 6,968,250. The Asian Jewish population increased from 2,544,200 to 2,605,500; in Australia and New Zealand the rise was from 74,500 to 77,000, and in Africa there was a decrease from 196,200 to 193,950. Among major international cities, Amsterdam stayed at 12,000 Jews, Berlin stayed at 6,000, Budapest remained at 65,000, Copenhagen remained at 6,000, Jerusalem was constant at 195,000 and Johannesburg rose slightly from 57,700 to 57,800. London stayed at 280,000, Milan dipped from 9,000 to 8,000, Montreal continued at 110,000 and Moscow at 285,000, Paris was level at 300,000, Rio de Janeiro dropped from 55,000 to 50,000, Rome rose from 13,000 to 15,000, Tel Aviv-Jaffa stayed at 394,000, Vienna decreased from 9,250 to 8,200, and Warsaw stayed at 5,000. Mr. Shapiro noted that while all Jews in Yemen had been thought to have left that country, it apparently still had 500 Jews at the end of last year.


Arnold Schwartz, AJ Committee research analyst and former lecturer and researcher in sociology of American Jewry at the City University of New York, attributed the rise of intermarriage to diminishing cultural differences between Jews and non-Jews and the greater contact between Jews and non-Jews in college and at work, Jews have entered the mainstream of American life, Mr. Schwartz stated, and more non-Jews are beginning to share Jewish tastes, ideas and life styles. He said Jewish collegians, representing 85 percent of American Jewish youth, often deem religious and ethnic restrictions on them as “confining parochialisms.” In addition, Jews appear to be forsaking the traditional independent occupations “with their strong Jewish and family and social associations” for salaried professions, putting them into contact with more non-Jews, Mr. Schwartz noted that Jewish proscription against intermarriage still remains in force but added that disapproval of intermarriage “is tempered by the American ethos…which places primary emphasis on the individual – his will, his choices, his personal well-being.” Intermarriage, he noted, has created a dilemma for rabbis, many of whom acknowledge it to be the price Jews have to pay for living in an open society. Discussing Reform rabbis who perform marriages between Jews and non-Jews, Mr. Schwartz recognized the limited factual information on this subject, as only Indiana and Iowa record married couples’ religion. A few Jewish communities have taken their own intermarriage surveys, he wrote, but report only “minimal” intermarriage rates because their sample tends to exclude marginal Jews.

Rabbi Gerald Engel, Hillel Foundation director at Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind., reported in the Year Book that Americans who moved to Israel between 1955 and 1966 “left because they felt a growing anxiety about being part of a society in which materialism and conformity threatened the realization of their human potential.” The threats, they indicated, were, in descending order of intensity: conformity, materialism, anti-Semitism, political witch-hunting, dating and marriage restrictions, the educational system, church-state relations, and dependence on family. Of those who have become permanent settlers in Israel, Rabbi Engel observed that women were more anxious over materialism and conformity than men. He predicted that assimilation, and dissatisfaction with the “emotional unbalance of society,” will be the major concern of those Americans who will immigrate to Israel in the 1970s. “The Orthodox will continue to come to Israel in larger numbers than any other segment of American Jewry,” he forecast, “because their concept that being a Jew is a full-time task is coupled with a keen desire to leave the diaspora and return home.”

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