New York, NY, 17% of the children of Israeli Jews who have lived in the United States for over a decade have married non-Jews. The number is higher than their parents’ generation, which has an intermarriage rate of 8%, according to a new study released today by the Israeli-American Council (IAC). The overall intermarriage rate of American Jews is at 58%.
The first of its kind survey on the Israeli-American community “Israelis and Israeli-Americans Living in the United States; Perceptions, Attitudes and Behavior” surveyed almost 1,660 Israelis in 40 states. It divided them into two groups: those who have lived in the United States for less than ten years and those who have lived here for over a decade in an effort to measure changes in attitudes and lifestyle over time. It was conducted by Midgam, a leading polling company in Israel, with the help of Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption (immigration ministry), the IAC, and several other Israeli-American organizations.
The study also finds that among those in both groups who attend synagogue (around half of the Israeli-American community surveyed) about 44% go to Orthodox synagogues. But among others that attend non-Orthodox synagogues, 24% of those who have lived here less than ten years attend Conservative synagogues and 22% attend Reform congregations. For those who have lived in the U.S. over ten years and attend a synagogue, 33% go to Conservative synagogues and 17% attend Reform.
According to the survey, about 51% of Israelis living in the U.S. for less than ten years socialize mostly with other Israelis who live here, while for those who have been living in the U.S. over ten years the number drops to 33%, indicating greater integration with the American society the longer they live in the U.S.
The Israeli American Council (IAC) commissioned the survey to examine how Israeli residents of the United States feel in terms of their connection to Judaism and Israel and how those bonds and accompanying behaviors might shift over time.
“The purpose of the survey was to deepen our understanding of the landscape of today’s Israeli-American communities so that we can better provide services they need to fulfill our mission of strengthening the Jewish identity of the next generation and building bridges to the Jewish American community. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first survey of the Israeli-American community nationwide that has ever been conducted,” said Shawn Evenhaim, Chairman of the Israeli-American Council.
When asked about the enrollment of their children in Jewish day schools, 53% of those polled in both groups responded that they do not send any of their children to Jewish day schools or preschools. 29% of those who have been here for less than ten years do so for all their children; as do 32% percent of those who have lived in the U.S. for over a decade.
Demographics of the Israeli-American community were also measured in the survey. It found that on average about 20% of Israelis in the U.S. surveyed are between the ages of 16 and 34, 44% are between 35 and 44, 15% are between the ages of 45-64, and 11% are above the age of 65.
According to Midgam, before this survey there was no significant data on Israelis who live in the U.S. The study is not conclusively representative, but because it surveyed a significant number of Israeli-Americans, it does give a good sense of community norms and trends.
“It is the first significant step to learn about tendencies of the community as a whole,” said Dr. Mina Tzemach, Migdam’s lead pollster. “The bottom line is that the results might not be perfect, but the survey presents for the first time a picture of this community.”