Ending Up Where You Began: Still Jewish

McGinity interprets these statistics as a trend toward acculturation -- a means of retaining a distinct Jewish identity within the confines of American culture. But with such a small sample of 46 middle class women and considerable data not always broken down by gender, it's difficult to take her assessments at face value. A more detailed examination of Jewish assimilation into American society would have provided a better context for evaluating rising rates of intermarriage. As it is, McGinity's Jewish brides seem marooned; their partnerships with gentile men emerge as the defining feature of their identity.

Overall, McGinity's story has great poignancy. Still Jewish demonstrates how, from insular beginnings surrounded by anti-Semitism to a world of inevitable intermarriage, Jewish women with gentile partners negotiated a new way to be Jewish in America.

This article was first published at Moment Magazine, a Patheos Partner, and is reprinted with permission.

Jennifer Weisberg is a writer living in New York City.

4/27/2010 4:00:00 AM
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