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Title of Journal: Cont Jewry

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Abbravation: Contemporary Jewry

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Intermarriage: The Impact and Lessons of Taglit-Birthright Israel

Authors: Leonard Saxe, Benjamin Phillips, Theodore Sasson, Shahar Hecht, Michelle Shain, Graham Wright, Charles Kadushin,

Publish Date: 2010/11/20
Volume: 31, Issue:2, Pages: 151-172
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The focus on Jewish continuity has shifted in the last two decades, from concern with anti-semitism to anxiety over the threat of assimilation and, in particular, intermarriage. Scholars concur that the intermarriage rate has risen to about 50 percent but disagree about the significance of the phenomenon. Those in the outreach camp hold that little can be done to lower the rate of intermarriage and, instead, want the community to promote efforts to integrate non-Jewish spouses into the Jewish community. Those in the inreach camp, in contrast, hold that little can be done to increase the propensity of intermarried parents to raise Jewish children and instead promote efforts to encourage inmarriage and conversion. This paper examines the impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel (Taglit), a program that sends Diaspora Jewish young adults on fully subsidized educational tours of Israel, on intermarriage, conversion, and attitudes toward raising children as Jews. Drawing on several surveys of Taglit applicants, including participants and control groups of applicants who did not participate, the study isolates Taglit’s impact and compares Taglit’s influence to other educational interventions and background characteristics. Taglit has substantial impact on participants’ propensity to marry a Jew, increasing the odds ratio of a non-Orthodox participant being married to a Jew several fold. In addition, the program strongly increases participants’ regard for the value of raising Jewish children. The study concludes that both the intermarriage rate and the motivation of intermarried parents to raise Jewish children are highly tractable. The study points to the possibility of establishing common ground between advocates of inreach and outreach on the vital importance of Jewish education to the goal of Jewish demographic vitality.



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