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August 14, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 14, 2009 The intermarriage dividend? By Steve Lipman New York Jewish Week NEW YORK--The latest major demographic study of American Jewry offers new insights into the post- intermarriage landscape. The good news: the potential size of the country's "extended" Jewish community, members of intermarried families, is growing. The bad news: the number of Jews. mostly in intermarriages, who affili- ate with another religion, is increasing. Those are the contradic- tory findings of the Ameri- can Religious Identification Survey, a study conducted by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College, which was-released lastweek. While about 500.000 born- Jewish adults who have By Sharon Udasin New York Jewish Week NEW YORK--Walking the streets of Manhattan, it's not uncommon to hear snippets of Hebrew conver- sation every few blocks or so--a young dad pointing out the "kelev gadol" [big dog] to his toddling son or to witness an Israeli wait- ress serving hummus to pay for her uriiversity studies. A similar influx of young Israelis has emerged in Los Afigeles. but unlike 20- and 30-something Israeli New Yorkers. the L.A. group lacks a sense of community and remains largely isolated from local Jewish organiza- tions, local experts say. This is where Dor Cha- dash, which has brought together 30,000 Israeli and American Jewish New York- ers in the past six years, comes into play. "The vision is to create a national community that shares a passion for Is- rael," said Tzameret Fuerst, a founding member and chairwoman emeritus of Dor Chadash. who con- ceived the idea of expanding the organization beyond New York. "It was clear that Los Angeles was an important target." Since its establishment in 2003. Dor Chadash has catered to New York's grow- ing community of Israelis and, American Jews, aiming to bridge cultural gaps and unite the two groups as one. with nearly 200 different programs thus far. At the outset, the organization had three primary goals: to embark upon social ac- tion missions, engage both young families and young singles who share a passion for Israel and then repli- cate this successful model elsewhere in the country, according to Fuerst. Most Dor Chadash members are between 25 and 40 and a~e Israeli, Jewish-American or some "hybrid" combination of the two. Among the dif- ferent programs they enjoy together are Jewish holiday celebrations and Israeli political discussions span- ning everything from the elections to the suffering Bedouin community. In addition to Los Ange- intermarried are practicing The rising rate of in- Jewish," and that the Jewish have a 20-year perspective. another religion, mostly termarriage, which now population has stabilized at We now have a movie, not a Christianity, the network of includes more unions with about 5.5 million during the photograph." relatives exposed to Jews and "non-white" spouses from last two decades. Since 1990. the percent- to Jewish ideals is rising, black. Hispanic or Asian "There are no surprises," age of "cultural Jews" who "All we hear is the negative backgrounds, could mean Kosmin said. "The facts have identify by ethnicity alone. side ofassimilation. There are more ties with, and support been corroborated." has grown from 20 to 37. ac- a lot more people out there from, ethnic groups from "The broad outline is what cording to the surveys. with a Jewish connection." otherpartsofthepopulation, one would expect," reflecting "We'rebecomingmorelike people who are likely to be he said. He added that the some researchers' predictions the rest of America," which supportive of Judaismand of "extended Jewish popula- thatthesizeoftheAmerican is forsaking religious ties in Israel. said Barry Kosmin. a tion" manyofwhomwould Jewish community has not favorofethqicorhumanistic Trinity College professor of be eligible for Israeli citizen- shrunk in recent years, said self-definitions, he said. "Jews Public Policy and Law who ship under the country's Law Benjamin Phillips, associate are ahead of the seculariza- served as a co-director of of Return mightbe as large researchscientistatBrandeis tiontrend.'" the survey. He and fellow as 20 million people. It is"a University'sSteinhardtSocial "Over half of American professor Ariela Keysar were natural constituency" for Research Institute and Cohen Jews claim they have a secular to report the results of their Jewish interests, he said. Center for Modern Jewish outlook." Keysar said. "Most study last week at the 15th The survey also confirmed Studies. "That's certainly a of them see no contradic- World Congress of Jewish earlier statistical and an- good thing." tion between adhering to a Studies in Jerusalem. ecdotal evidence that the The survey, based on in- religion and having a secular Intermarriage, despite overall American Jewish terviews with nearly 1,000 orientation." strident opposition in reli= community is becoming self-identified Jews. is the American Jews'increasing gious circles and predictions increasingly secular, thatthe third such one conducted secularization, while"notbad of a weakening of the Jewish number of Jews who identify since 1990 under Kosmin's news"forJewishleaders favor- community, "is not a disas- theirreligionasJewishisalso auspices. "All corroborate inga"humanistic"approach ter," Kosmin said. turningsecularor"culturally each other." he said."We now to Jewish life, is "'a concern" Israeli culture, from N.Y. To L.A. les. other American cities would be able to bring a,real in need of some Jewish- authentic slice of Israel to Israeli infrastructure like America." Dor Chadash are Boston. His Dor Chadash prede- Chicago. Philadelphia, Mi- cessor agreed. "We have ami. San Francisco and such confidence in their Washington, D.C.. accord- partnership and in their ing to Fuerst. Initially, Dot capabilities that it made it a Chadash was very close to no-brainer for us to embark making Boston its next upon this path," Fuerst said. home and was already Although the Leadership actively engagingwith the Council will remained ir~- consulate there, volved in the development But just as it was about process by connecting Dor to agree toaBostonexpan- Chadash with local Los sion. Dor Chadash received Angeles organizations, Ni- an unprecedented offer colet has no qualms about from theIsraeliLeadership giving Levis and his staff Council in Los Angeles, an largely, free rein in terms organization conceived by of programming. local Israeli entrepreneurs "Our goal is not to get that provides the basic so involved in their pro- infrastructure to cultivate gramming," Nicolet said. a community of Israeli "They're bringing to the leaders in the area ex- table their secret recipe. plained Erik Levis. national What we bring to the table executive director of Dor is the funding." Chadash. Thus far. however, Levis' first ingredient in the Leadership Council had the secret recipe will be a only worked with a teenage LosAngeles director, andhe population and an older hopes to solidify his choice group, and it wanted to get within the,next few weeks,. together something more After that. he said. the new concrete for young profes- staff and volunteers will sionals scattered around simply need to spend a few the area. according to the months in Los Angeles, to organization's executive determine what the com- director. Shoham Nicolet. munity wants and needs "There is a gap here, a which may be quite unlike vacuum between the ages (ff the population's needs in 25and45,"Nicoletsaid."We New York. approached Dor Chadash "We bring a raw authen- and said come to L.A.. and tic feel from Israel to the we'llprovideyouwithallthe States," Levis said. "The necessary funds, with our populations are a little dif- connections and do what ferent in New York and Los you know how to do." Angeles, so we don't neces- Forthenexttwoyears, the sarily have a precise series Israeli Leatlership Council events lined up." will cover all costs, strat- Nicolet agrees, adding egize financialplans, apply that young professional for grants and raise funds Israelis are much less vis- to enable Dor Chadash to ible in Los Angeles than transplant its model to they are in New York City, the Los Angeles Israeli and in part due to the scattered Jewish community. Though geography. Whereas the Nicolet's organization only New York branch of Dor has 65 members, they are Chadash focuses primarily predominantly wealthy on the island ofManhattan, business entrepreneurs the Los Angeles sector will whose $3.600 annual dues need to bridge gaps among allow the Leadership Coun- members throughout the cil to fund projects such as entire valley. the upcoming venture with Though most specific Dor Chadash. activities will depend upon "The partnership became the local constituency's an obvious and seamless requests, Levis envisions possibility, because ILC business networking con- was looking to supplement ferences, book salons and its infrastructure with perhaps a big Welcoming programming," Levis said: party. Many of the events, "They looked all over the Levis predicts will involve country for a program that more entertainment-ori- PAGE 17A- to those from a religious back- ground. Phillips said. "It's both a challenge and an opportunity," he said. A challenge, since "secular Jews tend to be less connected to the Jewish community,'Aess likely than other Jews to join Jewish organization or to do- nate to Jewish causes. An op- portunity, since "it's not clear that the Jewish community has found appropriate ways of reaching this population." Earlier results of the sur- vey, reported in March. found' that the number of people religiously identifying as Jewish. estimated at 3 percent of the American population early in the 20th century, has steadily declined since the institute's 1990 study, from 1.8 percent to 1.4 percent. Reprinted with permission from the New York Jewish Week, ented themes than similar soirees in New York. "We're really just trying to bring Israel to America in a very authentic way, and however that takes shape it will take shape," Levis said. Dor Chadash leaders are confident~that their New York mendel will repeat its success in Los Angeles, and in many other American cities to follow. "The significance and the potential for having a national community of Israeli and American Jews that are connected together, that can really be a force for positive change and for positive interac- tion with Israel." Fuerst said. "If we're united, there's really no limit to what we can accomplish as a community:" Reprinted with permission from the New York Jewish Week, www.jewish week. com. af'[anlas Prices Joseph Sh~a Oriental Rugs ........ ~::i:: !~ :407:.718.2472 DISCOVER THE REFORM JEWISH HOME YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR! SHABBAT GROOVE - FRIDAY, AUG. 21sT AT 7:30 A Unique Musical Shabbat Experience with Beth Schafer and Band PROSPECTIVE MEMBER OPEN HOUSE- Friday, Aug. 28th Be our guest for dinner and Shabbat Service featuring Cantorial Leader, Beth Schafer. Dinner at 6 p.m. followed by service at 7:30. Please RSVP for dinner to 407-366-3556 Carillon Elementary School 3200 Lockwood Blvd., Oviedo HIGH HOLIDAY TICKETS AVAILABLE Call 407-366-3556 Visit: rFIRST WE LISTEN... 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