Study: 1 in 4 US intermarried couples wed by Jewish officiant
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Study: 1 in 4 US intermarried couples wed by Jewish officiant

Brandeis University report says 91 percent of weddings where both spouses are Jewish conducted by Jewish clergy only

Illustrative: A 2011 marriage ceremony of an interfaith couple from Boston. (Courtesy Jared and Laurie Berezin)
Illustrative: A 2011 marriage ceremony of an interfaith couple from Boston. (Courtesy Jared and Laurie Berezin)

NEW YORK — Nearly one quarter of intermarried couples were wed exclusively by a Jewish clergy member, a new study has found.

The study, titled “Under the Chuppah: Rabbinic Officiation and Intermarriage” was published this week by Brandeis University and surveyed 1,200 married young adults across the United States.

The findings showed that a majority of intermarriages, including a Jewish spouse, were conducted by a non-religious officiant. Twenty-four percent were conducted by a Jewish officiant only, while 11% were conducted exclusively by non-Jewish clergy; 5% percent included both Jewish and non-Jewish clergy.

Among marriages where both spouses were Jewish, the study found that 91% were conducted by Jewish clergy only.

The study found that among intermarried couples wed solely by Jewish clergy, 85% raised their oldest child Jewish. Among intermarried couples wed by other clergy, the figure dropped to 23%.

According to the study, “On multiple measures of Jewish engagement, including synagogue involvement, intermarried couples whose weddings were presided over by a sole Jewish clergy officiant look very similar” to couples where both spouses are Jewish.

The lead author of the study was Leonard Saxe, who heads the university’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies.

Marc Mezvinsky and Chelsea Clinton combined Jewish and Methodist traditions during their wedding ceremony on July 31, 2010. (Genevieve de Manio, via JTA)
Marc Mezvinsky and Chelsea Clinton combined Jewish and Methodist traditions during their wedding ceremony on July 31, 2010. (Genevieve de Manio, via JTA)

A separate study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found that 21% of US adults were raised by parents of two different religions. Most of those couples included one parent affiliated with a religion and one unaffiliated parent. The Pew survey did not present separate data on Jewish Americans.

According to the 2013 Pew study of American Jews, the intermarriage rate among Jews married after 2000 was 58%, and jumped to 71% among non-Orthodox Jews.

Ninety percent of those who identified as Jews by religion and were raising children said they were raising them Jewish. By comparison, less than one-third of those who identified themselves as Jews of no religion were raising their kids as Jewish.

Among intermarried Jews, 96% were raising their children as Jews by religion (as opposed to ethnicity), compared to 45% among intermarried Jews.

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