The (Un)Importance of Jewish Difference

Younger Jews have rejected the idea of ethnic solidarity, thus ensuring that the American Jewish future will look radically different from what has come before.

A woman at a Purim party at a club in New York. Kitra Cahana/Getty Images.

A woman at a Purim party at a club in New York. Kitra Cahana/Getty Images.

Response
Nov. 17 2014
About the author

Riv-Ellen Prell, professor of American studies and director of the center for Jewish studies at the University of Minnesota, chairs the academic council of the American Jewish Historical Society. Her books include Fighting to Become Americans: Jews, Gender, and the Anxiety of Assimilation, and Women Remaking American Judaism.


For several decades, Jack Wertheimer and Steven M. Cohen have been calling on American Jews to pay attention to the social, cultural, and demographic realities of their life as a community—and to how those realities have begun to endanger the future of that community. A high rate of intermarriage, a falling birthrate, and a steep decline in either religious or secular affiliation have placed at risk the ability to maintain a vital, pluralistic center, anchored in a strong middle ground between assimilation on the one hand and ultra-Orthodoxy on the other.

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More about: American Jewry, Intermarriage, Jewish continuity, Pew Survey