27 Pages

Jewish Out-Marriage: A Global Perspective

BySergio DellaPergola

The frequency, determinants, and consequences of marriages between Jews and non-Jews have long been a significant topic in social-scientific research and community discourse. Some observers view the trends in Jewish family formation with great concern and consider it to be a leading factor in the identity drift and quantitative erosion of Jewish population. At the beginning of twentieth century, rates of Jewish out-marriage were generally low. In many countries with large Jewish communities, out-marriage was nearly non-existent, reflecting nearly complete socio-cultural segregation between Jews and the majority of society. With progressive growth of Israel's Jewish population share of the total of world Jewry, the low frequencies of out-marriage in Israel had counterbalancing effect as against the leading global trend toward greater integration and out-marriage of Jews with non-Jews. From both a historical and a contemporary perspective, the Jews' majority status in Israel and their minority status in Diaspora contexts generated significantly different opportunities for Jewish identity expression and community life.