"Jew Too? - Tales of the Mixed Multitude" is a podcast sharing positive influences of dear ones from other faiths on Jewish family, love, and life.
Created and produced by Rabbi Emily Cohen, with support from the Auerbach Family Foundation and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, "Jew Too" celebrates the growing diversity of the American Jewish family.
Once upon a time, American Jews were mostly born to Jews.
As recently as 1970, over 80% of Jewish Americans married “in.” The Jewish family in those days was usually a unit consisting of two Jewish parents and children raised in the tradition.
But things have changed quickly. By 1985 the intermarriage rate was 41%. 15 years after that, in the year 2000, 58% of Jews married non-Jews. When Orthodox Jews are removed from the equation, that number rises to 70%.
As the rate of intermarriage rose, so did the number of families with only one Jewish parent. In the late 1950s, 18% percent of Jews grew up with one Jewish parent. For gen-Xers, it was 24%. For millennials, the current young adults of our world, it’s an even split: 48% raised by one Jewish parent, 48% by two.
Once upon a time, such demographic shifts may have been cause for panic. In a time when Jewish status was conferred across all denominations only through the faith of the mother, in a time when marrying a non-Jew was likely to lead to one’s family sitting shiva, in a time when there was no place in shul or in Jewish society for loved ones of other faiths -- yes-- marrying “out” was something akin to cutting oneself out.
Today, the Jewish world is increasingly open to and populated by people who do not come from the pre-1970 notion of Jewish family. The Jewish organizational landscape is increasingly reflective of that diversity, but many Jews, and Jewish organizations, continue to treat families with members who are not Jewish as a population worthy of fear.
This podcast exists because today's Jewish-American landscape demands it, because the "Once Upon a Time" of pre-1970 intermarriage statistics is no longer our reality.