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The difference was stark: Those who actually went on Birthright were 45 percent more likely to marry someone Jewish.This “is some kind of reflection of the experience in Israel, although there is no preaching during the ten days,” said Gidi Mark, the International CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel.At least some of those who joined youth groups, went to summer camp, and traveled to Israel probably grew up in families that valued and reinforced the importance of having Jewish friends and finding a Jewish partner, so they may have been more likely to marry Jewish whether or not they participated in these activities.But even among less observant Jews, there seems to be a lingering sense that Jewish social connections are critical, especially when it comes to dating.“But our interpersonal relationships are colored by our Judaism, and our dating and marriage decisions are equally Jewish decisions.”On the opposite end of the spectrum of observance, a Reform organization, the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), seems to take a similar tack, especially in response to frequent questions from donors and congregants about intermarriage trends.“Our response to [concerns about] intermarriage is less to have conversations about dating—we want to have larger conversations about what it means to be Jewish,” said the director of youth engagement, Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, who estimated that NFTY serves about 17,700 Jewish students each year.The organization compared marriage patterns among the people who went on Birthright and those who signed up but didn’t end up going—they got waitlisted, had a conflict, lost interest, etc.
But make no mistake: This doesn’t mean they have a laissez-faire attitude about intermarriage.
In large part, that’s because Jewish organizations put a lot of time and money into spreading precisely this message.
For the Jewish leaders who believe this is important for the future of the faith, youth group, road trips, summer camp, and online dating are the primary tools they use in the battle to preserve their people.***Although Judaism encompasses enormous diversity in terms of how people choose to observe their religion, leaders from the most progressive to the most Orthodox movements basically agree: If you want to persuade kids to marry other Jews, don’t be too pushy.“We try not to hit them over the head with it too frequently or too often,” said Rabbi Micah Greenland, who directs the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), an Orthodox-run organization that serves about 25,000 high school students each year.
C., past trips to Israel, and guilt over skipping religious services earlier that day.
And then the conversation turned to dating.“Would you ever marry a non-Jew? Answers varied; one person said she wasn’t sure, while another said she might consider marrying someone who was willing to convert.