I came upon this article in the New Haven Register in the form of an answer to a man asking why a number of Jews see Jews intermarrying and “ceasing” to be Jews such a threat and such a problem. I posted a comment, but since it was “held for moderation,” I’m going to post it here, to save it, because this could very well mean that it will never see the light of day.
GOD SQUAD: Jews are justifiably worried about their declining numbers
Q: What’s the big deal about marrying “in the faith” with Jews? Furthermore, why does being born into a particular faith impose a duty to preserve the faith and traditions of the religion in which a person is raised? [cont.]
Excerpt of the full answer:
The concern about intermarriage is sociological, not theological. The issue of intermarriage is really the most visible manifestation of the concern that the Jewish people might not continue to exist. Low birthrate among Jews (except for the orthodox); assimilation into secular culture; lack of synagogue membership or the practice of Jewish rituals in the home; the Holocaust, which saw the murder of a third of the Jewish people during World War II; and, yes, intermarriage, have led to a demographic catastrophe in the Jewish world.
There were roughly 18 million Jews alive on planet Earth in 1933, when the world’s population was about 2 billion. In 1945, there were only about 12 million Jews still left alive. Today, there are still only about 12 million Jews, but the world’s population is 7 billion! …
By contrast, one out of every three people here on earth is Christian.
The intermarriage statistics are also concerning. Well over half the marriages in America involving one Jewish person are marriages to a non-Jewish person. Only about a third of the children of such intermarriages are raised as Jews, and less than 10 percent of the grandchildren of intermarriages are raised as Jews.
Therefore, what looks to you like xenophobia and Jewish prejudice is, in fact, a deep terror in the hearts of every Jewish person aware of these numbers that Jews are not long for this world. … The tragic irony does not escape me that a 4,000-year-old religion and people that survived exile and persecution might not be able to survive tolerance and freedom. God promised Abraham, the first Jewish person, that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands on the shores of the sea (see Gen 15:5). The way things look now, it’s a very small beach with very little sand and I can’t see the stars through my tears.
“By contrast, one out of every three people here on earth is Christian.”
This is misleading. As several Pew surveys have shown, Christianity in the wealthy West is going down the drain just the same. What remains with us is either smaller conservative groups or larger groups of very liberal kinds of Christians, which are, in any case, a total deformation of what Catholicism and Protestantism have stood for centuries – witness the current Pope and the fact that many Catholics approve of perverted homosexuality. While it is true that in poor nations Christianity is growing strong, it seems harsh economic factors push people to organize around helping communities, and Christianity can serve this role is destitute areas quite well.
However I can understand the author’s sorrow.
But here is the catch: if people are no longer religious, there isn’t much regarding Judaism to hold onto just as an ethnicity. Take for example, an American Jew (ethnic, not religious) who thinks the CIA, a luxurious lifestyle (think Madoff), porn, and homosexuality are normal. What does it matter if he marries a Jewish woman who thinks the same way or if he marries a non-Jewish woman? The man is already such a corrupt version of what a man should be. Would the author want a bigger community of such Jews? Why? To give money to other Jews who are also such frauds?
I am just at the very first pages of Uriel da Costa’s autobiography – so sad. His tragic struggle against the barbaric world he lived in, including the Jewish community that persecuted him, raises many of these questions.