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I'd like to direct your attention to Rosner's Domain, where his guest for the week is Ira Sheskin:    Professor Sheskin is the Director of the Jewish Demography Project of the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Jewish Studies … Read More

By / January 31, 2007

I'd like to direct your attention to Rosner's Domain, where his guest for the week is Ira Sheskin:   

Professor Sheskin is the Director of the Jewish Demography Project of the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Jewish Studies at the University of Miami. He is one of two authors of the recently published – and hotly debated – study on the number of Jews in the US, concluding there were more than 6 million of them. According to the survey, about 2.2 percent of Americans are Jewish.  

 Though as we've discussed a lot here at Faithhacker, what it means to be a Jew needs to be determined before you talk about how many "Jews" there are in America.  And statistics are slippery things.  They usually have an agenda. 

For instance, one commenter asked,

I think most people (maybe I'm naive) would agree that worrying about intermarriage between ethnic groups and/or races is distasteful. For some reason it isn't seen as nauseous to worry about intermarriage between religious groups. Why do religious concerns get a free pass here? Isn't it just plain old out-group hostility and xenophobia?

And Mr. Sheskin explained,

I do not think that concern about intermarriage is racist or nauseous, or any other word of that nature. We should applaud whenever two people fall in love to the extent that they want to spend their lives together. But the overall effect on the community of a high intermarriage rate is not good for the Jews. And it is not, in the long run, good for America.

 He also says this, in reaction to the idea of intermarriage,

I am unabashedly in favor of having a strong American Jewish community.

Which really really bugs me.  Now, I know I'm at the far end of the spectrum, sitting a loooooong way from Mr. Sheskin, though generally I can understand the desire for inmarriage.  But this language, and this way of approaching the issue, it feels really outdated.  Really uneducated.  Which sucks, since Jews LOVE statistics.  Especially statistics that tell us we're a "strong community."