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Reaping the Dividends

November 22, 2006
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Deciding where to invest the scarce resources available to Jewish groups is a deeply controversial issue. The question has often been put as one of choosing between whether to fund projects that serve the unaffiliated or the intermarried, or those that serve individuals already in the community's core.

That is something of a false dilemma, since it makes sense to do as much as we can in various arenas. Still, the results of a survey conducted recently in Boston will provide more food for thought about this issue and the future of American Jewish life.

The survey found that some 60 percent of children raised in interfaith households in that region were being raised as Jews.

That figure reaches far above the national average (in the neighborhood of 25 percent to 30 percent) -- far enough to force us to ask what's so different about Boston. Local activists claim the reason is a larger localized effort to produce programs for interfaith couples and other outreach efforts. While this conclusion has yet to be substantiated by hard research, it certainly makes sense.

Though similar attempts may not necessarily work elsewhere, those who care about Jewish life cannot afford to ignore the Boston experiment. Whether some of us like it or not, if Boston has found a formula that works, the rest of us had better pay attention and start doing the same thing in our communities.

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