Jewish Baseball Community Reflects Community-at-Large

We’ve chronicled in the past how the recent trend in the Jewish community has resulted in a situation where children of intermarried couples are “the coming majority.” The rise in interfaith couples has caused us to reach a tipping point whereby the number of intermarried households has managed to match (or in some communities even exceed) the number of those that are inmarried. The explanation for this statistical phenomenon is simple mathematics: it takes one Jewish person to create an intermarried household, while it takes two to create an inmarried one.

We could very well ruminate on this data only in the theoretical realm, but it can be even more enlightening to see how things play out in the real world. An interesting (and topical, with Opening Day right around the corner) example is the case of the ten major league baseball players expected to be on MLB rosters when the season begins on April 1st.

As you can see in this article by columnist Nate Bloom, the “coming majority” is already here (at least in the baseball world), at a ratio of six to four. Bloom explains:

Suiting up for the 2007 season are four major league players with two Jewish parents: Kevin Youkilis (Boston Red Sox); Jason Hirsch (Colorado Rockies); Jason Marquis (Chicago Cubs) and Shawn Green (New York Mets).

The other Jewish major league players all have one Jewish parent: Mike Lieberthal (Los Angeles Dodgers); Brad Ausmus (Astros); Scott Schoeneweis (Mets); Scott Feldman and Ian Kinsler (Texas Rangers) and John Grabow (Pittsburgh Pirates).

The article’s data comes from a print publication known as the Jewish Sports Review. The Review keeps a list of “who is Jewish” in baseball as well as other sports, and until recently tracked whether a player from an interfaith family had a Jewish mother or father. Does this move away from noting from which parent a person received their Jewish heritage signal a larger shift toward a community more accepting of the idea of patrilineal descent? While this is just an isolated example, it is always encouraging to see an accepting, welcoming attitude toward Jewish identity, especially because the Jewish Sports Review actually contacts the individual players to make sure they self-identify as Jewish before they are listed.

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