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In the front page of the California Jewish Newspaper, the Heritage, published on Friday, March 14, 1994 an astounding headline read: "The graph that is terrifying Jewish America" That headline together with a graphic presentation showing the possibilities of your grandchildren being Jewish as divided up into five categories, ranging from the secular to the very orthodox. Below is presented their conclusion:
"Based on current intermarriage rates and the average number of children per family, the chances of young contemporary Jews having Jewish grandchildren and great grandchildren, with the exception of the Orthodox, are increasingly remote."
Now we Jews, who hold that being Jewish is a special privilege and identity, are concerned about these statistics. OK, the Orthodox, with their great emphasis on Jewish law and rite, including the taboo of birth control except in special conditions, need not worry about the future of the Jewish people. They are reproducing at record rates.
But what about the rest of us? What will be? Are we doomed into being assimilated into the non-Jewish culture and world around us?
Through out our history, how many Jews were burnt, tortured and maimed just for being Jewish? How many did we lose at the hands of the Nazi butchers? How many did we lose in Stalin's madnesses. Look and see how many of the contributors to the world, as we know today were Jewish. Not just Einstien and Frued, but in every field. Being Jewish is a connection to THE people. Let's pass this heritage on to our children and grandchildren as well!
Below is a synopsis of the chart with the Heritage (a community newspaper, not known for any Orthodox bias) published
The above table is the result of an impartial survey. More than showing the likelihood of your grandchildren being Jewish, it shows us something perhaps deeper. The Family and it's role in preserving Judaism. We see that as the group represented becomes more religious, the number of children increases. This does not mean that the family as a unit is happier, however it indicates that, one, the marriages are, by virtue of the number of children, more child oriented. And, two, having so many children, means that the chances are that these marriages last longer.
Now what can we learn from this? Assuming that we, who are not as observant as our Hasidic orthodox brethren, how are we to give the gift of Judaism to our children's children, what can we do to insure this?
First I suggest a reinvestment in our Jewish identity. Sure going to Israel is great, and every one should go, but two weeks or two months are not the material that gives a day by day identification with the Jewish people. Holidays is the greatest time for enjoying the Jewish identity. Who says that I have to be a deeply religious person to enjoy entertaining my family and friends in a Succa. In Israel, many non-religious people enjoy sitting and eating in a Succa.
The same thing is true of the Shabbat. Who says that I must be a Chassidic or Yeshiva Orthodox type to open a bottle of wine and say the "kiddush" on Friday nights and have a great meal with my family and friends. It's really a lot of fun.
The same is true of a lot of the various Holidays and Festivals. Let's get our act together and start enjoying being Jewish! Let's give our children the gift that our parents gave us. And let's have more children to enjoy giving to! And let's send them to Jewish Schools!
The author, who requested to remain anonymous, lives in Los Angeles.
from the October 1997 Edition of the Jewish Magazine