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May 31, 2013

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PAGE 16A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 31, 2013 By Daniel Krieger NEW YORK (JTA) --Over the past half century, in- termarriage has become increasingly common in the United States among all religions--but among Jews at the highest rate. Whythat is the case is one of the questions Naomi Schaefer Riley probes in her new book, "Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Trans- forming America" (Oxford University Press). One of the main reasons, Riley finds, is that the older people get, the more likely they are to intermarry--and Jews tend to marry older than Americans generally, accord- ing to the 2000-01 National Jewish Population Survey. By the same token, Mormons, who encourage early nuptials, are the least likely faith to outmarry. The findings in Riley's book, for which she commissioned a national study, raise the question of whether Jewish institutions interested in reducing interfaith marriages should be encouraging Jews to marry at a younger age. They aren't doing that now, accord- ing to Riley, and the American Jewish intermarriage rate is about 50 percent. Another factor behind the comparatively high Jew- ish intermarriage rate is, simply, that Americans like Jews. Riley cites the work of sociologists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, who Courtesy Naomi Schaefer Riley Naomi Schaefer Riley, au- thor of'Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America." measured the popularity of various religious groups with extensive surveys for their 2010 book, "American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us." "America, for the most part, loves its Jews," agreed Paul Golin, the associate ex- ecutive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute. "It doesn't mean that anti-Semitism is over, but there's much more philo-Semitism than anti- Semitism in America." Riley says intermarriage is both a cause and effect of this phenomenon. "The more you have exposure to people of other faiths, the more likely you are to like them and then marry them yourself," she said. Riley, who identifies as a Conservative Jew, is herself intermarried. She says assimilation has been a good and bad thing for American Jews. On the down- side of interfaith marriage, Riley's research showed that intermarried couples reported lower rates of marital satisfac- tion than inmarried couples. The children of interfaith couples also tend to grow up to be less religious than inmarried couples. Riley predicts what some might consider an ominous future for American Jewry, but one that comports to some degree with what several other scholars have hypothesized about American Jewry's fu- ture: A small core of religious Jews will run Jewish commu- nal institutions, and a large contingent of assimilated Jews on the periphery will have little enthusiasm for or connection to their faith. What Riley doesn't devote much attention to is who are the gentiles marrying America's Jews. In most cases, interfaith marriages may be the result of happenstance: Non-Jewish Americans hap- pen to meet and fall in love with a Jew. But some Americans are specifically looking for Jew- ish mates. Approximately 5 percent of the 750,000 mem- bers of JDate, the popular Jewish dating website, are non-Jewish, according to JDate spokeswoman Arielle Schechtman. In more than a dozen interviews with JTA, non- Jewish JDaters talked about the reasons they are seeking out Jews (on the condition that their last names not be Rebecca Wilson/Creative Commons The interfaith wedding ceremony in 2010 of Cara and Pascal, a Jewish-American and Namibian couple, in Brooklyn. used), though practically all said they were not exclusively seeking Jews. "I have a positive bias to- ward Jewish men," said Eliza- beth, 37, a teacher in New York who was raised Christian. "They tend to be very smart, successful, gentlemanly and less sexist. They are a safer choice." Neil, a doctoral candidate in physics in Texas who was brought up Muslim in Iran, said he believes American Persians and Jews gravitate toward each other because their "common roots" enable them to communicate well and get along. He also noted that many stories in the Koran come from the Bible. "If I meet a woman who wants to raise Jewish chil- dren," said Neil, 47, "this is something that I could wrap my mind around." He also said he would consider converting. Will, 49, a school guidance counselor in Pennsylvania who is a practicing Catholic, joined JDate several months ago at the urging of a Presby- terian friend who had found love on the website. Will said the Jewish women he has met and dated struck him as "more grounded" and "a lot more passionate" than his usual dating partners. Mary, a 48-year-old Afri- can-American psychologist who was raised Southern Baptist, said she decided she wanted to meet a Jewish man after discovering that a distant ancestor had been an Ethiopian Jew and hearing positive things about Jew- ish men. At first she had few options--Jews are in short supply where Mary lives in North Carolina--but seven months ago she discovered JDate. Since then, Mary has met several prospective Jew- ish suitors, but none have pro- gressed into a real romantic relationship. "This is the kind of guy I've always been looking for," Mary said of the Jews she has met through JDate. "Whether I end up with one, I don't know, But I do know that's the cali- ber of man that I want." By Ron Kaplan Jersey Jewish News With about 40 games gone by--- one quarter of the sea- son--heR's a look at how the JMLs are faring as of May 19: Like last year, New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis has gotten off to a horrible start, so much so that fans and media are clamoring for his demotion to the minor leagues. In 39 games, Davis is batting just .156 with four home runs and nine runs batted in. The New York Yankees signed Kevin Youkilis to fill in for third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who was due to miss at least half the season while he recuperates from hip surgery. But the fragile Youkilis was himself placed on the disabled list with back problems on April 30. He had appeared in just 17 games, batting .266 with two home runs and seven RBI. Ryan Braun has remained relatively healthy and on par with his career statistics. lie's batting .317 with eight home runs and 28 RBI for the Milwaukee Brewers, who are actually worse than the Hets at this point. Braun's stolen base numbers are down, however, and it appears doubtful he'll rejoin the 30 home ran/30 steals club for the third straight year. The Texas Rangers put second baseman Ian Kinsler tm the DLon May 18 because of a rib in' mry sustained on Ryan Braun an awkward slide. Kinsler had been hitting .302 with seven home runs and 20 RBI. After a shaky start, Chicago Cubs' pitcher Scott Feldman is on a tear, winning four straight decisions and lower- ing his earned run average to 2.19, sixth-best in the Na- tional League. He's also doing surprisingly well at the plate: he doubled in two runs in his most recent game, an 8-2 win over the Mets on May 18. Similarly, Jason Marquis has won his last four games for the San Diego Padres, posting a fine 3.46 ERA. Craig Breslow spent the first month on the DL for the Boston Red Sox. Since his return on May 6, the lefty- reliever is 1-0 in seven games (6.2 innings pitched) with a 1.35 ERA. First baseman Nate Frei- man (pronounced "FRY- man") was acquired from the Houston Astros by the Wikimedia Oakland As at the end of spring training. He's used sparingly: Freiman has ap- peared in just 20 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement. He's batting .229 with one home run and seven RBI. The Boston Red Sox called up catcher Ryan Lavarnway twice; the first time he was with the team just a few days without getting into a game before being returned to the minors. He was recalled May 12 and has made it into two contests, going 1-7 with two RBI. Defensive specialist Sam Fuld has appeared in 32 games for the Tampa Bay Rays, mostly in the later innings. He has 11 hits in 58 at bats (.190) with one triple and one RBI. Ron Kaplan is the features editor for the New Jersey Jewish News, from which this article was reprinted by permission. NTE AT LAKE MARY The Wait Is Over... Now featuring the Cordova! 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