For some in the Jewish community, it is very difficult to comprehend the rapid rise in Jewish intermarriage rates, from single-digits before 1960, to 30% in the 1970s, and approaching 50% in the 1990s to today. Sure, Jews are a special people…but in this regard (as in many others), they are also totally American. And intermarriage for every type of person in America has risen over the same period, between all religions (not just Judaism) as well as between ethnicities and races. A lot of it has to do with the Civil Rights that Jews were—perhaps ironically—so influential in winning.
A recent New York Times article with an appropriately Biblical headline—”When You Contain Multitudes“—discusses how this larger trend impacts on the children of interracial marriage. While Judaism is not mentioned, one of the young people featured in the piece is Jen Chau, whose mom is Jewish and dad is of Chinese heritage. We at JOI had the pleasure of working with Jen briefly when she was at the Jewish Multiracial Network. She is a remarkable activist, a co-director of mixedmediawatch.com and the executive director and founder of Swirl, a national non-profit organization that provides support to mixed race individuals. To us, she embodies the great potential among today’s generation of proud Jewish children of intermarried parents.