The level of intermarriage in the UK Jewish community is nearly half of that of the diaspora as a whole, new figures show.
Just over one in five (22 per cent) Jewish adults in the UK have a non-Jewish spouse compared with 42 per cent for other Jewish communities outside Israel, according to the data.
The intermarriage rate for global Jewry is 26 per cent overall, ranging from just five per cent in Israel to 45 per cent in the United States, a report published by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (JPR) found.
Both in Europe and the USA, the highest rates of intermarriage are among those who identify as secular or “just Jewish” rather than as part of a religious Jewish stream.
Nearly 70 per cent of secular Jews in the USA and almost 50 per cent in Europe are married to non-Jews.
There is a “metaphorical abyss” between Israel and the diaspora when it comes to intermarriage, the report notes, pointing to Israel’s Jewish majority, which makes the chances of meeting a Jewish partner more likely.
Previous studies suggest only a small minority of children who grow up in mixed-marriage families have a strong Jewish identity. However, the “main engine” of falling Jewish populations is not intermarriage, but low fertility, the report’s author Daniel Staetsky stressed.
His analysis shows that the more traditional communities are, the lower the incidence of intermarriage.
Intermarriage rates in the UK are comparable to those in Australia and Canada.
By Western standards, the UK Jewish fertility rate is now high at 2.5, which is mainly down to the growing Charedi population.
JPR executive director Jonathan Boyd, said: “The question of the sustainability of Jewish communities in the diaspora has long been an issue for community leaders and many have expressed concern about the impact of intermarriage on that.
“This new paper makes a cogent case for examining the effects of intermarriage alongside the effects of fertility, as fertility rates can both exacerbate or help to quell its impact.”