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The Jewish Family

American Jews are facing a demographic crisis. An aging population, low fertility rate, and high rate of intermarriage combine to reveal an exceptionally weak desire to raise up a new generation of Jewish Americans. In this 2005 Commentary article, sociologist Jack Wertheimer explores and explains this phenomenon and asks whether there is anything that can […]

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The Road Back from Utopia

August 31, 2016 | By: Joel Rebibo

It is widely known that a substantial number of men from the yeshiva community in Israel study Torah full-time, relying on broad support from the state to supplement their wives’ income in order to sustain their families. Perhaps less well known is that this phenomenon is not a traditional way of Jewish life, but one […]

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In this 1955 book chapter, the eminent American sociologist Nathan Glazer profiles the American Jewish community in its first three hundred years. He describes the experiences of Sephardi and Ashkenazi immigrants to America: their professions, educations, family life, and economic mobility. In this discussion, spanning from the early colonial days to the post–World War II […]

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On top of the rising costs of raising a child in America, Jack Wertheimer estimates that “actively engaged” Jewish families pay a premium of “$50,000 and $110,000 a year just to live a Jewish life.” Behind these financial costs are significant moral ones, Rabbi Aryeh Klapper argues in this 2012 article. High costs of living […]

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In this 1968 Commentary article, a self-described feminist reflects on the virtues of separate gender roles in the synagogue and in the Jewish family. Separate gender roles prevent women from relieving men of their communal obligations, lowering the risk of alienating them from religious service and synagogue life. Separate seating and complementary but distinct duties enable […]

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Synagogue membership rolls have been dwindling, and the Jewish establishment is right to wonder about the fate of the one communal institution around which the religious lives of most Jewish men and women have revolved since the destruction of the Second Temple. In the United States, the synagogue is threatened by a scale of young […]

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Tribe and Family

July 13, 2016 | By: Isaiah Rackovsky

Writing in Tradition in 1965, Rabbi Isaiah Rackovsky explores the tension between the institution of the family, which serves as the foundation of the Jewish way of life, and modernity, its ideas and political institutions. Judaism sets the framework for cultural transmission by imparting a duty on parents to educate their children and commanding children […]

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Writing in 1994, Irving Kristol warns about the demographic problems facing American Jews. By the mid-nineties, the American Jewish community was pursuing a path to assimilation through low birth rates and intermarriage. Both phenomena, Kristol argues, were not failures of Jewish communal policy, but instead the unanticipated consequences of its success. For years, championing the […]

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In this essay, the second of a two-part series on Abraham, Leon Kass reads the stories of God’s promise to Abraham, the birth and banishment of Ishmael, Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaac’s circumcision, and the sacrifice of Isaac in a wisdom-seeking spirit. Kass explores how Abraham learns the arts of fatherhood and founding, elevating the household above […]

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Faith in the Flesh

June 20, 2016 | By: R.R. Reno

As Catholic theologian, social critic, and First Things editor R.R. Reno sat in the synagogue pews one Saturday morning, watching his daughter assume her place in the people of Israel as a bat mitzvah, he was provoked to scrutinize his own Christian faith in light of the Judaism of his wife and children. In this […]

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