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International Council of Jewish Women Told That Intermarriage is Threat in West

June 4, 1969
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The growing incidence of intermarriage by Jews in North America was brought home to Israelis in a discussion of the subject at the convention of the International

Council of Jewish Women here today. Mrs. Moses Richler, of Montreal, read a paper in which she claimed that if the present trend continues, Canada will be without Jews within the next four or five generations. Prof. Moshe Davis, head of the Hebrew University’s department for contemporary Jewish affairs, said Jewish education of the young was apparently no antidote to the practice because many of these attending Jewish day schools marry partners of a different faith.

Mrs. Richler said that Canada was the only North American country where reliable statistics on intermarriage exist. She said that in 1968, 18 percent of Jewish male marriages there and 12 percent of Jewish female marriages were "mixed." She said the highest rate of Jewish intermarriage 27 percent–occurred in Vancouver, British Columbia. The minimum was eight percent in Roman Catholic Quebec Province where, until last year, there was no civil marriage.

Mrs. Louis Broido said a similar situation prevailed in the United States where, she said, intermarriage by Jews is increasing by geometric progression. She claimed there was hardly a Jewish family in the U.S. that did not have a Catholic or Protestant relative by marriage. Mrs. Broido said the Jewish attitude toward intermarriage varied from those who considered it "wicked" and wanted mixed couples to be ostracized by the Jewish community to those who believe that intermarriage is a desirable contribution to solving the "Jewish problem." She said that in previous generations American Jews tended to associate less with non-Jews as they reached adulthood; now there is an open society and young adults as a rule go about in a mixed social milieu. She said in some intermarriages there is conversion of one partner to Judaism and that Jews now tend to place more stress on tradition. But that is not sufficient to offset what she called the "negative balance."

Prof. Davis said that he identified a bi-religious couple in which each partner retained his own faith as a "mixed marriage" whereas when one partner converted it was "intermarriage." He said Jewish education was insufficient to stem the tide because many adults regarded it as something for children which would be discarded with their childhood.

In a related development, a center for research on the education of bright children from disadvantaged homes was dedicated at the Hebrew University yesterday. The center was established with funds raised by the National Council of Jewish Women, an American organization, in its 75th anniversary drive last year. Mrs. Leonard H. Weiner, president of the organization, attended the ceremonies with Avraham Harman, Hebrew University president and other dignitaries.

The center, headed by Prof. Seymour Fox, will concern itself with the problem of educating youngsters with a higher than average IQ who come from poor families and may be required to drop out of school in order to become breadwinners. Minister of Education Zalman Aranne told the gathering that 40 percent of the pupils entering Israeli high schools this year come from families originating in the Moslem countries. High school attendance is not compulsory In Israel.

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