JDate: Reversing the Intermarriage Trend
A new survey out today shows the American Jewish community is growing less observant and intermarriage rates sit at 58%. At JDate.com, our mission is to strengthen the Jewish community and ensure that Jewish traditions are sustained for generations to come. To accomplish our mission, we help Jewish singles find friendship, romance, and life-long partners within the Jewish faith. To state the obvious, the new statistics from the Pew Research Center study are alarming and hit very close to home. The survey suggests Jewish identity is changing in America. Not only are nearly 60% of Jewish respondents marrying non-Jewish spouses, but those intermarried Jews are also much less likely to raise their children Jewish. While some media outlets are declaring the war on intermarriage lost, we believe the data shows a clear and tangible solution. And, furthermore, not to toot our own horn (but we will), we believe that solution is JDate.
According to the Pew study, intermarriage among the Jewish people was around just 17% before the 1970’s. It increased dramatically, jumping to 55%, by the late nineties. However, since 2000, the growth trend in intermarriage appears to have stopped, at 58%. “Interesting how that’s right around the time when JDate.com really caught on among Jewish singles,” says Rabbi Jason Miller, who was recently given a Jewish Influencer award from the National Jewish Outreach Program. JDate was founded in 1997 and started picking up steam in 1999. Coincidence? We think not.
JDate has become an undeniable force in helping Jews meet other Jews and building the Jewish community for more than 15 years. In fact, a recent study confirmed JDate is responsible for more Jewish marriages than all other dating sites combined. That study, commissioned by JDate and performed by independent research company, ResearchNow, surveyed nearly 1,000 married Jews. One of the more compelling findings showed that JDate is responsible for 52% of the Jewish marriages that started online. “As evidenced by the 750,000 members on JDate worldwide and our countless Success Stories, there is an ever-strong and engaged community of Jewish singles actively looking to meet other Jews,” explained Arielle Schechtman, Director, Public and Community Relations at JDate. “Jewish singles who would not have otherwise met, have met on JDate.”
Lauren and Andrew of New York is just one of those “Success Stories” Schechtman mentions. The couple, who first met on JDate in January of 2010, went on to get married, but their story doesn’t stop there – Lauren’s sister found her husband on the site as well. “Seeing how happy we were together, she immediately joined JDate and met the love of her life,” explained Lauren. Her sister went on to get married last summer; Lauren served as the Matron of Honor. Lauren and Andrew’s story is so common that JDate has since created the nickname “JFamilies” for scenarios where multiple members of one family met their significant others on JDate.
JDate has made a significant impact on Jewish culture as well. Several years ago, religious leaders started using the site as a tool to help curb intermarriage within their communities. Witnessing the trend in Jews marrying outside of the faith, rabbis across the county began purchasing JDate gift certificates in bulk for their single congregants, hoping those congregants would go on to find love matches within the faith. “I buy discounted subscriptions through JDate’s Rabbi Discount Program for our congregants out of my discretionary fund,” says Rabbi David Seth Kirshner of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, New Jersey. “I’m known for it and I’m proud of it. 70% of the weddings I’m doing now meet on JDate. It’s an incredible number!”
Coupled with JDate’s success, rabbis nationwide are suddenly playing matchmaker, working in tandem with JDate to help fortify the Jewish community. “As a rabbi, I use JDate to identify singles in my community who might be compatible with each other,” shares Rabbi Miller. “Sure, the technology itself does this on JDate, but it’s sometimes nice to have a friendly rabbi set you up with someone in addition to a computer crunching compatibility numbers.” It seems the war on intermarriage has most definitely not been lost.
The Pew Research Center survey states that 96% of married Jews say they are raising their children as Jewish by religion – that’s nearly every Jewish family who responded. Among Jews with a non-Jewish spouse, however, 20% say they are raising their children Jewish by religion. The difference is stark – but not bleak. While these numbers may be frightening to those who wish to see Jewish traditions sustained, there is still hope these numbers can be reversed – and rest assured that JDate is working hard to do just that.