What Canadian Jewry Gets Right

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.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewry, Canadian Jewry, Intermarriage, Synagogues


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount