Why did the mainstream American Jewish organizations react so angrily to Israeli government advertisements urging expatriates in America to come home? In a “Spengler” essay at Asia Times Online today, I observe that the same Jewish organizations who denounced the Immigration Ministry’s videos as “offensive” and “insulting” regularly publish Jeremiads about the decline of American Jewish life. Outside of the small but fast-growing Orthodox community, Jewish demographics are imploding.
As I wrote in my book How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying, Too):
Nowhere is the fertility gap between religious and non-religious more extreme than among American Jews. As a group, American Jews show the lowest fertility of any ethnic group in the country. That is a matter of great anguish for Jewish community leaders. According to sociologist Steven Cohen, “We are now in the midst of a non-Orthodox Jewish population meltdown. … Among Jews in their 50s, for every 100 Orthodox adults, we have 192 Orthodox children. And for the non-Orthodox, for every 100 adults, we have merely 55 such children.”
According to the last National Jewish Population Survey in 2000, the ultra-Orthodox in the U.S. have an average of 7 children per family and the Modern Orthodox 3.4, while Reform Jews have only 1.34 and secular Jews only 1.2. Jonathan Sarna observed in the Dec. 2 Wall Street Journal that the Jewish organizations have undertaken no new census of American Jews in more than a decade. One wonders if they are afraid of what they might find today.
Half of the non-Orthodox children, moreover, marry non-Jews, and very few children of mixed marriages will remain Jewish. As Reform Rabbi Lance J. Sussman wrote in 2010, “With the exception of a number of Orthodox communities and a few other bright spots in or just off the mainstream of Jewish religious life, American Judaism is in precipitous decline … the Reform movement has probably contracted by a full third in the last ten years!”