According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, Canada’s Jews intermarry at approximately half the rate of their U.S. counterparts, but are twice as likely to belong to synagogues. Ari Blaff comments:
American Jews are half as likely to attend community day school, yeshiva, overnight summer camp, and Sunday or Hebrew school as Canadian Jews. While participation rates at communal institutions have dwindled among non-Orthodox American Jews, the same has not been true for Reform and Conservative Jews in Canada. Accordingly, while American and Canadian Jewish youth exhibit similar bar- and bat-mitzvah levels (50 percent to 60 percent, respectively), . . . Canadians are significantly more active in their religious communities. . . . Similar results are seen when it comes to Israel between the two communities: “American Jews have a much weaker connection to Israel than do Canadian Jews,” the report states.
[In an effort to explain the last trend, the survey’s] authors point to Zionism’s contentious reception among American Jews in the 20th century, particularly in the Reform movement where Jewish self-determination was seen to be in conflict with American patriotism. In Canada, by comparison, British efforts to accommodate French-speaking elements fostered the growth of ethnic institutions within the country. . . .
It’s not all bad news for American Jews, [however]. American Jewish leaders may not be able to replicate Canadian cultural attitudes . . . within their own communities, but they can certainly draw lessons from the distinctive experiences of their northern neighbors.
Above all, Braff concludes, Canadian Jews’ preference for marrying other Jews may be the foremost reason for the other positive data.