web analytics
July 22, 2014 / 24 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
At a Glance
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.

Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Assimilationist Liberals Reap What They’ve Sown

Intermarried couple: Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky

Intermarried couple: Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky
Photo Credit: Facebook

The recent study of U.S. Jews by the Pew Research Center reports that 58 percent of American Jews marry non-Jews. Since few of those who intermarry are Orthodox, the percentage rises to 71 percent when Orthodox Jews are taken out of the equation.

The fact is, American non-Orthodox Jews are intermarrying their way into post-Jewish oblivion, and they’re doing so as a direct result of having emptied their version of Judaism of all meaning.

Having jettisoned traditional Judaism, non-Orthodox Jews by and large adopted political liberalism as their alternative pseudo-religion. The replacement of Judaism with political liberalism explains the creeping disappearance of the non-Orthodox Jewish community through intermarriage.

Intermarriage among the non-Orthodox is rampant because it is not really intermarriage at all. Putting romantic fantasies aside, the simple truth is that people tend to marry those with whom they have things in common and with whom they can share the things they regard as critically important in their lives. For the vast majority of non-Orthodox Jews, Judaism is simply not one of those things.

Since Judaism is not an important factor in the lives of assimilated Jews, there is nothing that stands in the way of their sharing with a non-Jewish spouse the things that are important to them. If one’s “religion” consists of nothing more than political liberalism, a non-Jewish liberal and a Jewish liberal already share the same faith. The Pew survey says large numbers of intermarried couples are raising their children “culturally” as Jews. All this means is they are raising them as liberals.

For two or three generations now, many American non-Orthodox Jews have insisted that the essence of Judaism is nothing more or less than the agenda of political liberalism. The mantra is familiar: All of Judaism boils down to “Jewish ethics,” which in turn can be reduced to tikkun olam, which in turn means nothing other than the pursuit of liberal political fads.

True Judaism, according to such reductionists, is the pursuit of environmentalist goals, Obamacare, affirmative action, and homosexual marriage. The “essence” of Judaism is not ritual or traditional texts, the reductionists argue, but being nice. And niceness, they insist, means being liberal.

On Internet search engines the combination of the terms “Judaism” and “social justice” yields a considerably greater number of web-page hits than a search for “Judaism” with “kosher” or “Judaism” with “Passover,” and nearly all of these are sites proclaiming the quest for “social justice” as the essence of Jewish ethics.

Many of the websites are, unsurprisingly, associated with Reform and Conservative synagogues or organizations. It would be an exaggeration, but only a small one, to say that nothing in real Judaism directs us to the pursuit of social (as opposed to judicial) justice. It is therefore an absurdity to claim that “social justice” is somehow synonymous with Judaism.

Countless “social action” committees operate in nearly every non-Orthodox synagogue in America, and invariably the agenda of such committees involves promoting political liberalism. The equation of tikkun olam with liberal political activism is so commonplace that it is recited as an ethical basis by many of the same liberal activists who cannot recite the Shema prayer correctly, who practice little or no Jewish ritual, and who have never been to Israel.

Even identification with Israel for many non-Orthodox American Jews is nothing more than an extension of their political liberalism. When Israel behaves in a manner that embarrasses liberals, like using armed force to defend its citizens, Jewish liberals flee in droves. When an anti-Israel liberal candidate runs in an election against a pro-Israel conservative candidate, we all know how assimilationist Jewish liberals vote.

The point here is not that political liberalism is simply wrong about a very large number of things, which it is, and that by and large it advocates what it does because liberals refuse to study economics or consider the matter of tradeoffs in policy and in life. The point here is that even if one agrees with the entire gamut of political liberalism at the ideological level, it has nothing at all to do with being Jewish.

Like those old advertisements for Levy’s rye bread, you don’t have to be Jewish to pursue social justice. Christians, Muslims, Hindus and atheists are just as capable of caring about social justice and pursuing it as Jews. (Of course, pursuing social-action fads is hardly the same thing as pursuing justice.)

So what does all this have to do with intermarriage? Everything. Since a non-Jewish liberal shares a Jewish liberal’s pseudo-religion, and since liberalism is the defining element in how Jewish liberals see themselves, there is nothing of importance in life that a potential non-Jewish partner is incapable of sharing.

To the contrary, the real difficulty, the real barrier to sharing the important things in life, would arise if an assimilated Jewish liberal were to marry a Jew who voted Republican! They adhere to different theologies.

Once Judaism has been misunderstood as the pursuit of the agenda of political liberalism, it should come as no surprise when intermarriage rates zoom to the sky. American non-Orthodox Jews faced a choice between Jewishness and political liberalism. Most chose the latter and now must live with the consequences.

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

47 Responses to “Assimilationist Liberals Reap What They’ve Sown”

  1. Dan Silagi says:

    Your photo of Chelsea Clinton and her husband make a strong argument in favor of intermarriage, or better yet, marrying someone you'd be in love with forever. I can make the same argument about myself and my Christian wife.

    Substitute "Aryan" for "Jewish" and similar arguments were made 78 years ago in the Third Reich, and were just as specious as the ones you're making in your article.

  2. Dan Silagi says:

    So Steve, what's your point? That "liberalism" leads to intermarriage, and in order to be truly Jewish, one must join the Tea Party, and kiss the dorsal orifice of Michele Bachman's alimentary canal?

    If jerks like you had their way, the U.S. government would default on its obligations and we'd be a larger version of Greece, but with about 6,800,000 more Jews, assimilated and otherwise.

  3. Stewart Schwartz says:

    Dan, the jerk be you.  It’s either liberal or nothing?  You liberals are THE most intolerant lot, aren’t you?   Steve’s right on.  Face the facts, yo.

  4. Stewart Schwartz says:

    Dan, you're the jerk. Steve's article is right on. You liberals are THE most intolerant bunch of fools on the planet. Face the facts, yo.

  5. Stewart Schwartz says:

    who's the jerk, Danny boy?

  6. Among the several definitions of Liberalismit it is in part defined by Webster as the freedom from the yoke of religious practice and ritual. The entire world that we Jews live in is populated with vicious antisemites and murderous Islamist Jihadiis. Those folks have a very liberal for the definition of a Jew.

    If you are an American Jew you are in severe jeopardy. I am reminded of Ms. Daisy remarking when the Temple in Atlanta was bomed that, "We are Reformed Jews."

  7. Cody Flecker says:

    When one visits the Jewish Museum in Berlin, an on going exhibit on the Jews in German shows the Mendelssohn Family. Moses Mendelssohn was the foremost Rabbi in Germany(Prussia) of his time. Perhaps in all of Europe, yet 10 of his 12 children all converted to Christianity, including the father of Felix Mendelssohn. In fact, Felix's father even added the name Bartholdy to further Christianize the family. Now the question remains as to why they did this? I think that the level of hidden and overt anti-semitism was so great, that anyone who was anyone converted. Much the way it is today in the USA. Who wants to be shackled to "that old time religion" when you can chuck all of that and be as modern as possible. Go to Berlin and see this exhibit for yourself.

  8. Dan Silagi says:

    Look in the mirror and learn.

  9. Dan Silagi says:

    The reason people assimilate in the US and elsewhere in the West is that Jews are now fully accepted in Western society, and it's about time. There no longer is the need to circle the wagons. The main purpose of orthodox Judaism, Halacha, and the 613 so-called "Mitzvot" was to keep Jews apart from everyone else, and thus preserve the tribe. In early 20th-Century Poland that was probably a good idea; Jews WERE surrounded by enemies. Ditto for ancient Israel.

    The "price" of full integration into modern Western society is intermarriage. To those who are railing against this, I ask: Would you rather be regarded by the rest of your countrymen as "auslanders"? Would you rather live in Poland, circa 1915? Remember, one can always make aliyah. Prior to 1948, that wasn't really an option.

  10. Roger De Freitas says:


  11. Matityahu Ben-David says:

    I guess one can't be a DEMOCRAT and ORTHODOX?

  12. The essence of Jewishness, as compared to other religions, is the ability to question doctrine and tradition, even as they honor their past. They still want to be Jews, but that doesn't have to define who they love.

  13. Ira Altman says:

    I don't see how that can be the "essence" of Judaism when the religion, like other religions, has the tradition of "hokh" – doctrine that may not be questioned at all. This is why the orthodox don't consider observers of conservative or reform Judaism (one of which I presume you and I count ourselves as) as Jews. On the other hand, if we are thoroughly secular and non-practicing this is precisely the group Steve Plaut is talking about. It seems to me he has a major, even horrifying point.

  14. Pace Lattin says:

    Ira Altman do you think that the jews of 1500 years ago would think orthodoxy religious?

  15. Pace Lattin says:

    Great comment. Unfortunately, there is a growing amount of Orthodox Jews adopting the customs of Radical Islam and Christianity. They have to be "more religious" every year, and ignore the traditions of even their parents.

  16. Ira Altman says:

    He's not talking about Democrats.

  17. Ira Altman says:

    Pace Lattin , Yes. But not so-called Modern "Orthodox."

  18. Ira Altman says:

    Dan Silagi You've given one solution in your last line.

  19. Ira Altman says:

    Dan, the only people threatening default is Obama and the Democrats. And it's a scare tactic: there's enough funds pouring into the treasury every month to pay the interest on the debt and more.Therefore, no default.

  20. Ira Altman says:

    Also Dan, the only way we become Greece is if we continue to rack up our debt to such a height that it becomes impossible to repay it. The only solution is to rein in our profligate ways, something Obama and the Democrats are unwilling to do.

  21. Harry DeMell says:

    This is the most imp[ortant article I have read in years. Thank you!

  22. Harry DeMell says:

    This is the most imp[ortant article I have read in years. Thank you!

  23. My question here may be simplistic, but does the high intermarriage rate in the Pew Study only include those who are married, or does it include common law as well? Depending on the source of data, the US cohabitation rate is at an all time high, so I wonder how it reflects on the intermarriage numbers.

  24. Susan Singer says:

    The U.S. is a melting pot. What happens to ALL ethnicities and nationalities that immigrate here? For better or worse, we all become Americanized. Each generation gets watered down more. So yes, this is a problem in the Jewish community, (but not the orthodox) But it is also a problem in all communities.
    This is not necessarily a "liberal" problem.

  25. Dan Silagi says:

    You're absolutely correct. You want to be a Jew first? Make aliyah, you can be both a Jew and an Israeli first.

  26. Dan Silagi says:

    You're absolutely correct. You want to be a Jew first? Make aliyah, you can be both a Jew and an Israeli first.

  27. Rob Feldmeier says:

    As a proud, Torah-observing Jew and an Iraq War veteran, I reject completely and totally the notion that being a Jew first is inconsistent with Americanism. We don't live in North Korea. The state is not and should not be put ahead of all else. The fact that almost no Christian would answer "Yes" if asked "Are you an American before you are a Christian?" proves the utter nonsense of the idea that being 100% Jewish and obeying the mitzvot makes you less American than everyone else.

  28. Rob Feldmeier says:

    PS. Mr. Silagi, we do not obey the mitzot because we need to "circle the wagons." We do so because Ha-Shem commanded it.

  29. Interesting article.
    For those that are interested in questioning their Jewish beliefs – check out this group, some great conversations about Jewsih issues that most Jews are faced with today –

  30. Charlie Hall says:

    Ira Altman Japan's per capita debt is more than double that of the US and it is causing no problems at all. The Republican Austerity policies are damaging the economy and destroying much of the US's physical and intellectual infrastructure. We are indeed headed the way of Greece of Obama doesn't stand firm.

  31. Sarah Williams says:

    Ira Altman , "This is why the orthodox don't consider observers of conservative or reform Judaism (one of which I presume you and I count ourselves as) as Jews" — that's not entirely correct. Observers of Reform and Conservative Judaism who are halachically Jewish are still considered Jews; what isn't recognized is Reform and Conservative Judaism.

  32. Sarah Williams says:

    Dan Silagi It depends on whether or not you want Jewish grandchildren. If Judaism has no value to you, you probably don't care and assimilation is fine; if Judaism is something you value as a faith-based way of life, then being Jewish is more important than being accepted by the gentiles in your society.

  33. Linda Goudsmit says:

    Additionally, this article explains why any criticism of the liberal ideology is so vehemently opposed–it is as if you are criticizing their religion. Wars have been fought over less.

  34. Linda Goudsmit says:

    Additionally, this article explains why any criticism of the liberal ideology is so vehemently opposed–it is as if you are criticizing their religion. Wars have been fought over less.

  35. you can also make the argument that most non-orthodox people like sports. Therefore, sports leads to intermarriage. Make sense?

  36. Bat Yisrael says:

    How many Jews are there is the world compared to Israel and according to these statistics when will there be a Jewish majority in Israel, do you guess?

  37. insecticide says:

    Kind of a shame that Rachel Flank-Lisbon never bothered to read Plaut’s article.  If assimilationist Jews misdefined Judaism as sugar and then promoted sports instead of Judaism as a pseudo-theology, then yes indeed sports would be behind the massive intermarriage plague.

  38. It's just awful, Stefan! I've told Lee that one of my nightmares is that, a couple if hundred years from now, history books will speak of this great civilization known as Jews!!!!!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Golani 13
1 MIA as IDF Names 6 Additional Members of the Golani 13
Latest Indepth Stories
The Israel Test

Charges from the court of world public opinion and their refutations.

IDF soldiers carry the coffin at the funeral of Israeli soldier Sgt. Adar Bersano (20).

It is up to our government to ensure that their sacrifices were not made for short-term gains.


Supporting Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, has become dangerous in Malmo.


Proportionality Doctrine:The greater the military gain the greater the justifiable collateral damage

Regional pro-US Arab countries rely on Israel as a deterrence to rogue Islamic regimes.

He has always supported the underdog, once even quite literally, legislating a law that prohibits the abandonment of pets.

Temech is about providing a community – a place where religious women can learn, collaborate and refresh themselves with like-minded people.

Netanyahu has decided that the lives of Israeli are more important than looking good for Obama, U.N. and the NY Times.

Many Jews join the Israel-haters with their progressive ideology and politically correct obsessions.

“The will to triumph is a prerequisite for victory.” Abba Kovner

How can you run away from Israel and all the things that have shaped your life?

It’s as if Hamas has pulled a page out of Pharaoh’s handbook.

“Am HaNetzach Eino Mefached Mi Derech Aruka” (An eternal people doesn’t fear the long journey).

Isn’t it comforting to know that our God loves life, grants life, and promises eternal life?

With a loud and strong voice we must say “no” to individuals who take the law into their own hands.

More Articles from Steven Plaut
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

One grey night it happened, Bibi caved no more
& Poof that Foggy Bottomer, he vanished from our sight

Ehud Olmert
Feb. 27, 2014

It’s six K, five K, four K, Graft !
(Daylight come and da jail’s his new home)

In 2012, an initiative was begun in the Knesset led by David Rotem (from the Yisrael Beitenu party), to cut the stipends and pensions paid to convicted murderers and terrorists by 50 percent.

When the Temple was in existence, Jews were religiously obligated to eat roast meat at least once a year.

I have frequently drawn up lists of what I love most about Israel, and Arik Einstein has ranked high.

In the past, the law school prohibited the singing of Hatikvah.

American non-Orthodox Jews are intermarrying their way into post-Jewish oblivion, and they’re doing so as a direct result of having emptied their version of Judaism of all meaning.

The Taliban is all too willing to obliterate anything attesting to ancient Jewish life and culture.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/assimilationist-liberals-reap-what-theyve-sown/2013/10/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: