Another Community Study

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Last month I blogged about what new community studies in Washington DC and San Francisco had to say about interfaith families. The Cohen Center at Brandeis, which did the Washington DC study, has released a new study of Pittsburgh.

An article in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle reports the study’s findings that one-third of all children in Jewish households are in intermarried families, that 33% of children of intermarried families are being raised exclusively Jewish, and that “few intermarried families in the Pittsburgh community ‘feel very much a part of the local Jewish community.’” The study found that 11% of children of intermarried families are being raised Jewish and something else, and the Chronicle article notes that “for intermarried families who are raising their children Jewish in some way, ‘nearly as many are sending their children to Jewish preschool as are inmarried families.’” The study’s principal author, Matthew Boxer, said that “Reaching out to intermarried families may provide a good opportunity for growth…and Pittsburgh should see ‘what else can be done to make them feel welcome.’”

The study was also the subject of a front-page story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which reports that “Intermarriage remains a concern. Of local Jews who are married, engaged or living together, 29 percent are in an interreligious couple. Among young adults, the figure is 40 percent, and that’s among those who are coupled up.” The article reports that Len Saxe, head of the Cohen Center, said that children raised in interreligious marriages in recent years are more likely to grow up claiming a Jewish identity than in the past, when mixed couples felt marginalized. “The Jewish community, particularly the liberal part, said, ‘We’re going to welcome particularly the children.’”

The recent studies, as well as past studies in New York (2011), Boston (2015), and the Pew Report (2013), have a pretty wide variation in what they report about how the children of interfaith families are being raised. That’s a subject I’ll return to soon.

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