In a recent article in the Republican, of Springfield, MA, Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City where Conservative Rabbis are ordained, is quoted as saying, “The more disturbing statistic is that only 8 percent of the children of the intermarried couples identify as Jews…. That small percentage indicates the hemorrhaging.”
We don’t know where Rabbi Schorsch got that statistic but we would be happy to debunk the research for him if he’d provide the source. More important than the statistic, however, is the attitude he expresses when he says, “The results of intermarriage are very detrimental to the transmission of Judaism in America.” Our question to him is, why does that have to be the case?
By finding no hope in the literally hundreds of thousands of intermarried couples who have created Jewish households, Chacellor Schorsch does a disservice to the Conservative Movement. Such blanket statements about intermarried couples and their children coming from the very top rungs of the movement presents an unwelcoming face, which makes it unsurprising that so few intermarried families have found a warm and welcoming home within the Conservative Movement. He makes the job of his rabbinic students that much more difficult once they leave the ivory tower and begin working in the field, where the neat theory of “just say no” to intermarriage doesn’t quite hold up in practice.