According to the results of the most recent Pew survey of Jewish America, I represent the best hope for the future of the Jewish people.
I guess I’d better explain that one.
The Pew survey found a significant rise in those who are not religious, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish, trends that are resulting in rapid assimilation affecting every branch of the faith except the Orthodox.
The problem with assimilation is that it is transmitted generationally, or, as the Pew report puts it, “circular and reinforcing” in that Jews of no religion (as defined by Pew) are significantly more likely than religious Jews to marry non-Jews. Those interfaith partnerships are significantly less likely to raise their children Jewish or even partially Jewish than households in which both parents identify as religiously Jewish.
I broke that cycle.
I was raised in a secular, interfaith family. My father was born to two Jewish parents, my mother has Jewish heritage, but neither of them identify as Jewish. If the Pew researchers had called me up when I was in high school or even college, I would have fallen into the “non-Jewish people of Jewish background” category.
If they had called me last month, I would have fallen into the “Jew by religion” category.
You can read the rest of my response to the Pew Poll over at the Jewish Daily Forward.