Too Few Pew Jews

The data should serve as a wakeup call to all Jews.

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Comments (28)

(20) Philippe Bloch, March 27, 2015 4:32 AM

"pew" double entendre

Sorry, I have heard Mrs. Palatnik's name before. I chose this video out of all the ones because I thought "pew" referred to the bench you sit on in shul. I thought this was going to be a maimer about shul attendance. Instead it is about intermarriage (and the Pew Foundation Report).

Double entendre? Or is it really, at root, the same problem?

(19) Paula Sparks, February 22, 2015 4:24 AM

Another problem that no one mentioned

I do Jewish matchmaking and out of hundreds of men and women on my list, around half of them, in all age groups, have never been married. Obviously, not having Jewish children, either. I try to help, but many don't know how to even begin a relationship. This is a big problem for all of us~

(18) Lily, February 15, 2015 10:52 PM

Halakhic issue

There's yet another issue here. If the observant Jew "marries out" or brings a non-Jew into the community, s/he is automatically rejected, i.e. denied conversion. The subject is treated as if s/he only wanted to obtain his/her share in Jewish priesthood "the easy way", like some marry a US citizen only to get a Green Card. If all those non-Jews were encouraged to convert instead of being denied the same, many more children would be raised in the Jewish faith.

(17) Anonymous, February 15, 2015 6:29 PM

Intermarriage isn't the problem divisiveness is

I don't know what is to be an Israeli Jew because I've never had the privilege of standing on Israeli soil. I am an American Jew, I have lived in both the secular and observant worlds and I know how to solve the problem. In the secular world I wanted to understand the hate that is anti-semitism so I began studying Torah. Study led to observance, observance led to moving myself and my son to live in an observant community. Living in an observant community led to things I did not think possible. There were incredible acts of kindness, for instance a woman who lived in the house behind mine noticed the movers and made dinner for my son and I because as she put t moving was hard enough I shouldn't need to cook to. Then there were the incredible acts of bigotry, the worst was the rosh kollel who phoned erev peasch to let me know he was displeased that I had not yet vacated the apartment we lived in. The kollel he was in charge of had purchased the building and although they had promised the previous owner as a condition of sale that my son and I would have a home as long as we wanted to stay, someone else who worked there had promised my apartment to another. The promise the kollel decided to keep left me and my 5 year old needing a place to move. It was 3 weeks before Passover and I needed to find a place to go fast. If we want to stop loosing Jews to other ways of life we need to treat them better. It’s easy to put aside the traditions of our fathers when all they appear to bring is misery and hate. Torah has a lot to offer anyone who can listen, we need to make it easy to hear.

(16) Lily, February 15, 2015 1:57 PM

Intermarried couples

What are intermarried couples supposed to do about the Pew news? - Get divorced, nullify the marriage and choose a Jewish partner?

If the orthodox community were more welcoming towards intermarried couples, they might keep the Jewish partner and take the other into their boat as well. Unfortunately many intermarried Jews lose their own home in the Jewish community, especially in the orthodox Jewish community when they intermarry.

Anonymous, February 15, 2015 2:51 PM

I sadly agree with you

Unfortunately, Jewish communities are very divisive, particularly the Orthodox communities, and tend to be unwelcoming not accepting towards anyone from outside the fold. Some communities will ostracize you if you leave the faith regardless who you marry. Having a dating system in place that solely focuses on singles with prestige, lineage, and money among other superficial stipulations doesn't help matters either. Nor does having parents who think that no one will ever be good enough for their children encourage people to marry within the faith.

(15) Jack bender, February 14, 2015 5:28 PM

Reconstruction ..reform ..

Reform and reconstruction Judaism has been a disaster for the Jewish people's exsistance...if they only just thought being Jewish...instead they teach progressive liberal the next two generations american Jews except for the orthodox will be gone ..all that will be left will be museums..

(14) Anonymous, February 13, 2015 2:49 PM

So, how DO we reverse this trend of intermarriage?

Is it possible that we are being too diplomatic? My young adult son knows I am 100% against intermarriage. Maybe there is such a thing as being too nice and accepting.

(13) Anonymous, February 13, 2015 2:46 PM

To Commenter #10 Anonymous

You mentioned growing up reform, which is the same background I had. Like you, one of my siblings married out of the faith. I agree with some of the sentiments you have expressed. However, there is a significant difference between marrying out of the faith and being homosexual. People can choose to marry within the faith, but as we have seen they have chosen not to do so. Being homosexual is something inborn, like having blue eyes or being right handed. We need to stand up and cheer when two Jews decide to marry and make a Jewish home, regardless of their sexuality. Re: Your comment about the reform rabbi boiling an egg on Shabbos. That really is egregious. My formal religious education is pretty limited, but ever since I was 12 I knew that one does not make a fire on Shabbos.

(12) Mike, February 13, 2015 10:12 AM

Economic aspect

I read in a recent Pew report that regarding annual income, on average, the orthodox family has a higher income than the conservative and reform and secular Jewish families (actually the last two have the lowest average annual income).
I found that quite interesting, because traditionally the secular movement and the reform movement have promised Jews that stripping away religion would generate a profit for them and that being orthodox would lead to poverty and they tried to create a stereotype of religious Jews=poverty
I seem, at least from that Pew report, that it is actually the opposite, that religious/orthodox Jews enjoyed a higher standard of living.
I think this is also what non-Jewish people are seeing, that even though not all Jews are wealthy, they are able to provide for their families and uphold moral values.
And what comes to their mind are actually often orthodox and sometimes chassidic families and neighborhoods.

(11) Ruth, February 13, 2015 7:27 AM

Home Trainining

The royals in Britain are marrying outside the royal family, soon there will be nothing called blue blood and there will be no need to keep them. Mothers should train their children on individual
Values, national values and human values and how they relate. When they grow up they will value other people while keeping their own values. Also I will advise Jews to drop everybody hates us syndrome because of its adverse effect on children complex. They may develop inferior complex which might make them to seek attention from other no Jews or it might make them undesirable hateful people.

Dvirah, February 16, 2015 3:30 PM

More Than a Syndrome

Very well - let's drop the "syndrome" - and will that stop the killers in France and Denmark? The hatred is real, nor is it confined to Europe. Better to face it and defend oneself than delude oneself.

(10) Anonymous, February 13, 2015 2:08 AM

I agree that it is a major problem!

I grew up extremely Reform and wasn't taught what it meant to be Jewish. No wonder, my sister converted to Christaniy and first married a Catholic, then a Protestant. As to the Jewish religious leaders in the US, we cannot put them in charge. When I lived in Israel, my Reform rabbi was in Jerusalem and I went to visit him, it was Shabbat, and my rabbi could not understand why breakfast was hard boiled eggs and not cooked. I had to explain to a rabbi that it was Shabbat!
In another Reform congregation, the Lesbian rabbi married her female partner (who had converted to Judaism) under a chuppah! So, not to sound prejudiced, but the same rabbi has been converting other gays to Reform Judaism (she has a book on how to do it in ten minutes) and marrying them. It goes agains all Orthodox and Torah values for men to marry men and women to marry women. So, it is not just assimilation that is killing American Jewry, the same Jewish organizations are promoting a watered down form of Judaism that I do not call Judaism. I know somewhere it says that Jewish leaders who lead Jews astray are committing one of the worst sins. This trend is frightening. So, there is more to assimilation than just marrying non-Jews. There are also the so-called Jews for Jesus who claim they are Jews that have influenced so many Jews to turn. And I have family members who are proclaimed atheists. The whole US secular society doesnt help either. And, adults do not realize what will happen to the next generation. It is sad.

Mike, February 13, 2015 10:46 AM

I agree totally

It seems that not only is the Reform movement not teaching people what Judaism really is, but they are also creating an impression that is what Judaism is and no wonder that people that people then think that it is meaningless, and possibly also start searching for other religions.

Perhaps your sister could profit tremendously from Rabbi Tovia Singer, the founder of
You can find many resources on youtube by searching for his name.

I also had an experience with a friday night reform service that I attended, not knowing what reform was about, and it was quite hair-raising, I think the highlights were: openly gay rabbi, playing electrically amplified music on shabbat (with boyfriend), being happy seeing intermarried couples, and inviting an anti-semitic lutheran priest and being upset that people interrupted the priest when we was bashing Israelis, and at the end of the 'service' (I actually do not remember any prayers of any kind), encouraging the sale of products on shabbat for charity.

Maybe what we can do is to spread Aish to other people, to simply contact them by email, even though it might be awkward, but this might be their chance!

(9) Chava, February 13, 2015 1:07 AM

Problem is lack of community help

I am a single fairly secular though am a strong spiritual Jew. I'm turning 33 soon. I live in NY and never thought I would be single and struggling to fall in love and get married to a Jewish man. I've been on JDate for years .. The problem is that there is a lack of community assistance in helping singles find their spouses. This should be number one priority! Yet I feel the community is not helping an singles are left with the superficial world of online dating which is leaving many Jews single and hopeless...

Anonymous, February 13, 2015 10:54 AM


Shalom Chava,
I agree with you. The hareidi community may have its shidduchim-network, but what about the other Jews?
It really should be easier to find a Jewish match.
Still, we must do our part.
Maybe we should have more courage to make a the first steps. Maybe understand more what (meaning who :-) we are looking for and what traits our partner should/must have and what can not work for us.
The most important thing is to pray to Hashem that he should help us.

Michael, February 13, 2015 11:16 PM

Jewish dating

I'm 35 and live in New Zealand. I spent most of my dating 20's looking for a Jewish partner, even spending time overseas in a larger community. Eventually I realised it was an exercise in futility and I felt like a matyr for the cause. I still have it on my 18 points compatibility check list, but it's not an immutable item any more. The few Jewish women I have come across on dating sites believe in this cause even less than I do. The only specifically Jewish dating site in this region closed down late in 2013. Well before then it had turned into a ghost town with tumble weed rolling through it's streets. Now at 35, I look back and I wonder why I foolishly wasted my easiest/best match making years on the cause. Now, well into my 30's it's a lot harder for other reasons. Many of the single women in this age range have previous relationship baggage (and I don't) and this makes things really difficult. I also agree with Chava that the community doesn't care. Once people are in a relationship themselves they seem to have no interest in helping anyone else.

Mike, February 15, 2015 10:46 AM

don't give up

Don't give up, my Jewish brother, we're in similar situations.
You are asking 'what's the point' and it is understandable, but if you or I marry a non-Jew, we will not have Jewish children, and in my opinion, then one could really say what's the point. Maybe your years and my years of not finding someone are in fact an investment in a positive Jewish future. How many people who achieved great things have not had to wait for many years until their dreams came true.
What I didn't understand was that, you were speaking about divorced Jewish women, and it is understandable that you would much prefer to start a new family with a women who doesn't have children, but what I don't understand maybe is why it would be preferable to marry a non-Jew and not have any Jewish children, no Jewish future, than to marry a respectable and decent divorcee and have a Jewish future with that women, even if it's not perfect. It doesn't make sense to me why it is preferable to marry a non-Jewish women than to marry a Jewish women whose only fault may be in your eyes. Why can there not be decent divorced women WITH children and have maybe more children with her?
And also, 35 years is not a bad age to get married. Many women who are 30 would LOVE to get married to someone your age. I agree that nowadays many women in their 20s don't have any idea what they want and then THEY get to be 30 years old and then they realize that they have made a mistake and want to marry someone! So why not jump at the opportunity? Believe it or not, many (jewish) women are crazy about meating someone like you!
Maybe it is also time (for all of us) to finally move to Israel?
Good luck my friend. I believe in you and may you marry a good Jewish women soon. Kol Tuv!

Paula Sparks, February 24, 2015 5:48 AM

The Jewish community cares more about intermarried couples

and other topics rather than figuring how to get Jews together with Jews. It's a huge problem for us, and most of the Jewish world doesn't get it! Don't give up on trying to meet a Jewish person to marry!!

(8) Anonymous, February 12, 2015 9:52 PM


MAZLTOV... finally I can hear good and honest reflection on reality

(7) Talia, February 12, 2015 9:18 PM

Too Few Jews in Pews

I shall never understand why the Holocast trumps being a
practicing Jew. Right, in a pew!

Nor can I comprehend Jews ranting about anti-Semitism when
they will not set foot in Israel

They will travel the world and boast. Including Communist
countries, they will live in Europe where they are hated.

But ignore, their true home, Israel.

No wonder Muslims are growing in numbers. If the Jews don't want Israel, they sure do.

It's more than pathetic.

(6) David, February 12, 2015 5:48 PM

You say that the Pew report is a shocking slap in the face to every Jew. This is not a true statement. Why?
1) Not every Jew cares.
2) This situation was completely predictable.
3) In the long run, the situation will correct itself.
Those Jews who don’t care are already lost. They are gone. They are not part of the solution.
Almost 40 years ago, I foresaw the demise of liberal and secular Judaism in the States. As a secular Jew, I concluded that there was no future for non-orthodox Judaism in the US, and assimilation was a foregone conclusion. This was one of the primary motivating factors in my aliyah to Israel. I believed that secular / liberal Judaism could only be sustained if there was a critical mass of Jews undrawn to a surrounding secular non-Jewish society. I believed that while US Jewry was being reduced to an Orthodox core, Israel would sustain a vibrant secular Jewish culture. I was wrong. I wasn’t wrong about US Jews disappearing; I was wrong about the ability of Israel to sustain a secular Jewish community.
To the last point: eventually, the worldwide Jewish community will be reduced to its Orthodox core. This community will sustain itself. I, as a secular Jew, am a dinosaur, destined to extinction. Liberal / secular Judaism will die off in two or three generations. The Orthodox core will survive.

Anonymous, February 16, 2015 3:41 PM

You are Saveable

If you realize all this, why not extend your life a little by picking up a few Mitzvot? Start with those which are simplest for you and ease into them.

A bit of philosophy: Judaism can be characterised as a system of disciplines. As such, it only has meaning when the disciplines are practiced. Faith is then secondary to action (Naseh v'Nishmah). So act! and let the rest take care of itself.

(5) Anonymous, February 12, 2015 5:37 PM

I think the problem for the secular Jew is that they only come to Judaism (I'm being generous here) at the time of bar/bat mitzvah. They don't understand enough Hebrew to be comfortable in shul prayer. Services are either performance or intellectually based. We need to bring i families to experience Judaism from before marriage and keep them there, so that children are raised in a "Jewish" home. In the secular world religion is only for the "boring" synagogue, we have to show it's for living, we have to teach it a joy for life, we have to help them learn to reach out to Hashem. Clergy and parents failed a generation which had its effect. This is where we start picking up the pieces. We can use all the prayer we can get.

(4) Anonymous, February 11, 2015 10:37 AM

While there are many contributing factors to intermarriage, the notion of marrying someone out of your faith is largely due to the lack of connection or information of religion. Not just Judaism, but religion is loosing it's ground while secularism is becoming more prevalent among a lot of young ( and not so young) people. A lot of people are dismissing the concept of God and distancing themselves from religion. A lot secular people identify themselves as being unaffiliated, atheist, or agnostic.Consequently, such people will marry anyone as religion is not a factor in a relationship to them. Religion doesn't have much of an impact on them unless their partner is devoutly religious. While secular Israelis living in Israel marry other Jews by default, those who live abroad will either learn to appreciate religion or completely assimilate. The question we should not only be asking ourselves how we can prevent intermarriage but what we can to to help our secular brethren to connect to their heritage and embrace the values and traditions we hold dear.

(3) sharona, February 11, 2015 7:56 AM

I think the problem is people don't know the importance of marrying within our faith. Firstly, we Jews need a Jewish education. Secondly, we need to understand that marriage is not just about marrying someone you're in love with. A Jewish marriage is about purpose and completing the mission we were put here to do, with Torah and mitzvos and passing it down

(2) JodyB, February 9, 2015 2:53 PM

We're all in this together

I'm coming to Baltimore to help! Thanks Lori for the reminder of what we as the Jewish people are dealing with. Love from Toronto

(1) Sidney, February 8, 2015 9:22 PM

Even Fewer Marriages

If we have 8 Jewish adults that get married and unfortunately only 25% marry Jewishly then only one marriage out of seven involving Jews will be a totally Jewish wedding!! (The two out of 8 will marry each other so that leaves the 6 others intermarrying.) Hashem Yerachem (May G-d have mercy.)


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