Most Jewish articles about mixed marriages tend to assume that such marriages are the end of the Jewish chapter of those families. When taking this approach, it is easy to calculate that the end of the Jewish reform and conservative movements is near (Reform and Conservative movements experience growing number of mixed marriages).
Is this really true?
In a study conducted by the Pew research center in 2013, two non-intuitive trends have surfaced. These trends question the accuracy of the doom predictions.
The study shows that approximately one-quarter of people who were raised Orthodox have since become Conservative or Reform Jews, while 30% of those raised Conservative have become Reform Jews, and 28% of those raised Reform have left the ranks of Jews by religion entirely. Much less switching is reported in the opposite direction. According to this study, the reform and conservative movements are constantly being reinforced by Jews from their most vocal critic; the orthodox movement.
The study also shows that the assumption that the children of mixed marriages will not be Jewish adults is not entirely correct. According to the study, 50% of adults under 30, who are children of mixed marriages, define themselves as Jews.
For that reason, the simple arithmetic of calculating the number of reform and conservative Jews, and the rate of mixed marriages, to predict the end of these two movements, is incorrect.
A question to be asked is how the orthodox movement in America will be affected in the long run, if there is a clear trend of orthodox Jews becoming conservative and reform. Does that mean that despite the common predictions the reform movement will remain the dominant movement in the US after all?
Another question to be asked is what will be the impact of the Jews who were raised orthodox on the reform and conservative movements; will they become more orthodox?
Predicting the future, by looking at how Judaism has evolved over time, leads to the conclusion that neither the orthodox, nor the reform or conservatives will remain in their current state much longer. All three movements are likely to evolve, probably becoming more similar than different. The reason for it is the major impact that the State of Israel has on Judaism. All three movements have strong ties to Israel and are influenced by religious decisions and practices in Israel. A place where Jewish practices are constantly examined and redefined in order to adapt to the changing world.
THE BONFIRE TRADITION OF LAG BAOMER