ūHgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter06.htmlgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter06.htmldelayedx+z’Jˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇ»†ÍĘ∂SOKtext/htmlPďĆ—Á∂SˇˇˇˇbČ.HSun, 24 Aug 2008 15:56:42 GMT∂Mozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, *+z’J∂S The B'nai Khaim in America
Chapter 6 - Kashroth

   Wherever and whenever Jewish leaders meet to consider the 
state of Judaism in America, the concern is voiced that 
American Jews are increasingly abandoning traditional Jewish 
rites, rituals and observances, from kashroth to intra-faith marriage. 
As Professor Nathan Glazer, ten years ago, summed up 
the conditions underlying this concern:  (See note #1)

     There are American Jews who have been given a good 
   traditional education and who, following the pattern of the 
   twenties and the thirties, have broken with all religious 
   observances. They do not attend the synagogue, they do not 
   observe the dietary laws, they do not mark the Jewish holidays, 
   and they do not believe in the existence of God.

   In the fall of 1965, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations 
of America established a special commission to "cope" 
with the "alarming proportion" of intermarriage of Jewish with 
non-Jewish college students. "If the trend is not reversed," the, 
President of the Union declared, "the whole fabric of the 
Jewish communal structure in the United States will suffer 
irreparable harm and damage." The problem, he said, "constitutes 
a grave challenge to the continuity of the Jewish community 
and a serious menace to the very survival a traditional Judaism." (See note #2) 

   In this and the following chapters we trace some of these 
tendencies as they have manifested themselves in the past 60 
years within one group of Jewish families, the B'nai Khaim. We 
obtained relevant data by means of a questionnaire which we 
addressed to 251 persons over age 16:

       47 immigrant B'nai Khaim, male and female, 50 per 
          cent of the original 93 still living and willing to 
          participate in the study.
       63 native-born married B'nai Khaim-the second generation
       39 native-born unmarried B'nai Khaim, age 16+ the
          third generation; and
      102 spouse of both foreign- and native-born B'nai
          Khaim
      ---
Total 251   

   The data we gathered make possible an evaluation of the 
changes in the religious, social and cultural patterns of the B'nai 
Khaim and of the nature of their acculturation to the American 
way of life. 
   In the matter of the changing religious patterns we must bear 
in mind that Jews are enjoined to observe 613 commandments
365 "don'ts" and 248 "do's." Here we consider the 
most common and distinctive of them, beginning with the 
observance of the dietary laws. Next to the rite of circumcision, 
observing kashroth is probably the most sacred tenet of Jewish 
orthodoxy. We asked, first, these two overall questions: 

   1. To what extent do you observe the Jewish dietary laws? 
      (a) strictly; (b) in part; (c) not at all.

   2. To what extent did your mother observe them? 
      (a); (b); or (c). 

 
   Here are the responses of B'nai Khaim males:
 			   
                                                          Observed 
                                                -----------------------------
	                                                  In    Not 
            Respondents 	                 Strictly Part  At All  Total 
            -----------                          -------- ----  ------  -----

Foreign-born married B'nai Khaim males              5      7      8      20 

	   
        Their mothers*                              9      3      0 	 12 

Native-born married B'nai Khaim males               2      6     21      29 

        Their mothers*                              7      8      8      23 

Unmarried B'nai Khaim males, age 16+ 	            2 	   8 	 12      22
 	 
* As reported by their offspring. The number of mothers is less than the number of 
offspring, since in many cases more than one offspring reported the same mother. 
To count a "mother" for each of several siblings would involve a duplication error. 


   Only five of the 20 foreign-born married B'nai Khaim males 
still observed the dietary laws strictly in 1964, while nine out of 
the 12 mothers were strict observers. At the same time eight of 
the 20, or 40 per cent, observed these laws no longer, while 
none of their mothers observed "not at all." The five strict 
observers were married to foreign-born women, two of them 
gentiles, while four of the eight non-observers were married to 
native-born women. Six of the eight non-observers were in 
professional occupations. Two of these six, both university 
graduates abroad, came from Rumania after World War II where, as in 
Russia and in all other communist countries, Jews, with the rest 
of the population, were abandoning all aspects of religion. 
   The trend away from the observance of kashroth becomes 
pronounced with the returns for the native-born married B'nai 
Khaim males. Here, out of a total of 29, only two were found 
to be strict observers, and one of the two is a grandson of Rabbi 
Avrom Kaprov. At the same time, 21 of the 29, or 72 per cent 
of the total, no longer observed at all. Three of these 21 were 
married to gentiles, two were of mixed parentage. None of the 
mothers of the foreign-born did not observe at all, while eight 
of the mothers of the native-born were non-observers. 
   B'nai Khaim females appear to be less "radical" than their 
male relatives. Here are their responses to the questions on kashroth. 

                                                          Observed
                                                -----------------------------
	                                                  In    Not 
            Respondents 	                 Strictly Part  At All  Total 
            -----------                          -------- ----  ------  -----

Foreign-born married B'nai Khaim females           10     11      6      27*

	   
        Their mothers                              13      5      0 	 18 

Native-born married B'nai Khaim females             0     16     18      34 

        Their mothers                              12      9      5      26 

Unmarried B'nai Khaim males, age 16+ 	            2 	   6 	  9      17 
  
* Includes one who died unmarried in 1965 at age 80.
 
    Thirty-seven per cent of the foreign-born married B'nai 
Khaim females were strict observers of the dietary laws, 
compared with 25 per cent for their male counterparts, and only 22 
per cent were non-observers, against 40 per cent for the 
foreign-born males. On the other hand, while none of the 34 
native-born females observed strictly, 18, a little over 50 per 
cent observed not at all, and two of these were married to 
gentiles. Among the native-born married males, 72 per cent 
were non-observers. 
   In sum: 

   25 per cent of the foreign born-married B'nai Khaim males 
      observed the dietary laws strictly; 
   40 per cent observed not at all. 
   75 per cent of their mothers had observed the laws strictly; 
      none of them had been non-observers. 

    7 per cent of the native-born married B'nai Khaim males 
      observed these laws strictly; 
   72 per cent did not observe at all. 
   30 per cent of their mothers observed strictly; 
   35 per cent did not observe at all. 
   37 per cent of the foreign-born married B'nai Khaim females 
      observed the dietary laws strictly; 
   22 per cent did not observe at all. 
   72 per cent of their mothers had observed strictly; none of 
      their mothers had been non-observers. 

      No native-born married B'nai Khaim females observed the 
      dietary laws strictly; 
   53 per cent observed not at all. 
   46 per cent of their mothers observed strictly; 
   20 per cent observed not at all. 

   Our B'nai Khaim women, both foreign- and native-born, were 
found to be more conservative than the men. 
   For B'nai Khaim spouses, we have the following data:

                                                          Observed 
                                                -----------------------------
	                                                  In    Not 
            Respondents 	                 Strictly Part  At All  Total* 
            -----------                          -------- ----  ------  -----

Wives of foreign-born B'nai Khaim males             3      9     10      22

Wives of native-born B'nai Khaim males              0     11     17      28 

Husbands of foreign-born B'nai Khaim females        6     12      3      21 

Husbands of native-born B'nai Khaim females         1     12     18      31 

	 
*The number of spouses in the table is not always the same as the number of their B'nai 
Khaim mates because of the different number of widows and widowers in each group. 
In one case, a gentile spouse submitted no return.
    The wives of the native-born B'nai Khaim males, of whom 
two were gentiles and one of mixed parentage, were all native≠born 
and were less observing of kashroth than were the wives of 
the foreign-born males. None of the 28 wives of the native-born 
males observed this commandment strictly, and 17 out of the 
28, or 60 per cent, observed not at all. Of the 22 wives of 
foreign-born B'nai Khaim, of whom two were gentiles, three 
observed strictly, and ten of the 22, or 45 per cent, did not 
observe at all. 
    In general, this was true also of the husbands of B'nai Khaim 
females. Only one of the husbands of the 31 native-born B'nai Khaim 
females was a strict observer, against six of the 21 husbands 
of the foreign-born females. Nearly 60 per cent of the 31 
did not observe at all, but only a little over 14 per cent of the 
21 did not observe at all. The one gentile husband among them 
made no return. 
    It is reasonable to expect that husbands and wives would 
tend to give the same answers to the same questions relating to 
their religious observances. However, enough differences were 
found in their responses to the questions on kashroth to reflect 
a considerable degree of independent attitudes. B'nai Khaim 
and their spouses were furthest apart in the matter of strict 
observance and were closest to one another in homes where 
kashroth was observed least. This held true for both the 
foreign-born and the native-born groups. Thus: 

   25 per cent of the foreign-born B'nai Khaim males observed 
      kashroth strictly; 
   14 per cent of their wives observed kashroth strictly. On the 
      other hand, 
   40 per cent of these B'nai Khaim did not observe at all, and 
      45 per cent of their wives did not observe at all. 

   For the native-born B'nai Khaim males and their wives we 
have these figures: 

    7 per cent of the B'nai Khaim observed strictly; 
      none of their wives observed strictly. But: 
   72 per cent of the B'nai Khaim observed not at all, and 
   60 per cent of their wives observed not at all. 

   In all cases, female B'nai Khaim observance of kashroth was 
closer to that of their husbands than was male B'nai Khaim 
observance to that of their wives. 
   For the foreign-born B'nai Khaim females and their husbands 
we have the following figures: 

   37 per cent of the B'nai Khaim females observed strictly; 
   30 per cent of their husbands observed strictly. 
   22 per cent of the B'nai Khaim females did not observe at all; 
   30 per cent of their husbands did not observe at all. 
 
   Of the native-born B'nai Khaim females and their spouses: 
 
   None of the B'nai Khaim females observed strictly, and only 
   3 per cent of their husbands observed strictly. 
  53 per cent of the B'nai Khaim females did not observe at all; 
  58 per cent of their husbands did not observe at all. 
 
     Mothers of B'nai Khaim spouses were more "advanced" than 
B'nai Khaim mothers. Twenty-three per cent of mothers of 
spouses did not observe at all, while only 16 per cent of B'nai 
Khaim mothers did not observe at all. The suprising thing in 
these figures is the extent to which mothers, that is, the older 
generation in both groups, were abandoning observance of the 
dietary laws. Still, this too, might have been expected. The drift 
away from ritualistic Judaism is not entirely an American phenomenon. 
We are accustomed to think of the "older" generation 
as shtetl Jews, vintage 1900. But already at the turn of the 
century secular enlightenment and socialist thought had begun 
to penetrate the shtetl. Most Socialists rejected all religion, and 
socialist influence began to affect Russian youth of all persuasion. 
The Revolution of 1905 broke through the crust of 
shtetl isolation. The images which Jews now saw of themselves 
in the mirrors held up to them by Perez and Sholem Aleichem 
and the Bundists shook many of them out of their centuries-old 
habits of thought and religious behavior. Their growing 
self≠awareness as a stagnant people was brought to a climax in the 
Bolshevik Revolution. If some B'nai Khaim who came here 
before World War I still wore untrimmed beards, others already 
had their beards trimmed, and those who came after the 
October Revolution, especially from the cities, had pretty well 
abandoned those outer symbols of Jewishness as well as more  
intimate family practices, such as the dietary laws. In America 
this process would be accelerated. The exigencies of having to 
earn a living among goyim were new compelling factors. The 
remarkable thing about our findings is not that so many of the 
B'nai Khaim and their spouses had abandoned strict observance 
of kashroth, but that so many still adhered to much of it as late 
as 1964, some of them after living in America for 60 years. 
    It should be added that among the immigrants who came 
here before age 18 a larger proportion dropped kashroth 
altogether than among those who came after age 18. Also, among 
both the foreign-born and the native-born those in professional 
occupations were the least observing. The degree of observance 
seems to bear no relation to the descent along the patriarchal lines 
A1, A2, A7 (except for the branch A2 B8, the Rabbi's 
family), nor to the neighborhood in which our people live. In 
1964, most B'nai Khaim lived in "mixed" neighborhoods. Of 
the 111 B'nai Khaim homes, 73 were located in "mixed" areas, 
16 in areas "mostly Jewish," and 22 in areas "mostly gentile." 
Of the 13 homes in which there was strict observance, two were 
in Jewish, two were in gentile, and nine were in "mixed" areas. 
Of the 41 non-observing families, nine were in Jewish, 11 in 
gentile, and 21 in "mixed" neighborhoods. 
   So far, we calculated the drift of the B'nai Khaim away from 
kashroth in the general terms of departure from the "dietary 
laws." We now tested our findings in terms of observance of 
specific commandments. We asked these specific questions of all 
married B'nai Khaim and their spouses: 

   1. Do you eat kosher meat only?
   2. Do you eat (a) pork, (b) ham, (c) bacon ?
   3. Do you eat shellfish? 

   The responses confirm our earlier findings as well as supply 
evidence for the "in part" observance of the dietary laws in 
general. They also throw light on the degree of independence of 
B'nai Khaim and their spouses in their respective responses to 
our questions. 
   Here are the answers to these three questions: (See Table #1)

   The first thing that strikes the eye in this table is the 
relatively small number of respondents that said yes to the question 
"do you eat kosher meat only" - 34 against the 177 who said 
no. (Bottom totals.) The one exception was the foreign-born 
females of B'nai Khaim who split about 50-50 between yes and 
no.
   The second thing to note is that so far as the native-born, 
both male and female, and their spouses are concerned, the 
traditional "kosher butcher" may just as well close up shop. 
Together, these numbered 122, but only three of them still ate 
kosher meat only. 
   Our questions about eating pork, ham, bacon and shellfish 
brought answers which are not only discriminating, but also 
throw light on the "in part" observance of the dietary laws in 
general. Fewer of our people (50 per cent) eat pork than eat 
ham (60 per cent) or bacon (72 per cent), or even shellfish (62 
per cent). Our B'nai Khaim seem to have a more definite built≠in 
aversion to eating pork than to eating any of those other 
trefe foods. Proportionately, between two and one-half and 
three times as many native-born as foreign-born eat pork, ham 
and shellfish. The difference is not so great in the case of eating 
bacon; here the percentages are 88 and 62, respectively. Bacon 
is becoming a staple in the B'nai Khaim kitchen. 
   As an overall check on the discriminating practices within the 
Jewish dietary laws, we asked this question: 
    
    Do you ever eat non-kosher food?:

      (a) at home 
      (b) in restaurants
      (c) when traveling 
      (d) at homes of non-observing Jews
      (e) at homes of gentile friends

   The answers show that two-thirds eat non-kosher food at 
home, evidently our bacon-eaters. But not much more than 43 
per cent of the foreign-born do so. The percentage for the 
native-born was nearly twice as high. A greater proportion, as 
would be expected, ate non-kosher food away from home than 
at home; again, the native-born in larger proportions than the 
foreign-born. And all of them indulged about equally in restaurants, 
when traveling, at homes of non-observing Jews, and 
at homes of gentile friends. 
   Unaccountably, a greater proportion of the wives of our 
foreign-born B'nai Khaim males eat non-kosher food away from 
home than their husbands do. One would expect the opposite 
to be the case, as men presumably have more occasion to eat 
non-kosher food in restaurants when at work or when traveling. 
"Do you eat khometz on Passover?" we asked next. Sixty per 
cent said yes-50 per cent of the foreign-born and their spouses; 
70 per cent of the native-born and their spouses. Again, the 
remarkable thing is not that 70 per cent of the native-born and 
their spouses ate khometz on Passover, but that fully one-half 
of the foreign-born and their spouses did. One native-born male 
and one native-born female answered, "No, whatever that is"! 
   Next we asked two questions specifically addressed to men 
and two specifically to women. The questions to the women 
were: 

    1. Do you use separate sets of dishes for meat and dairy 
       products? 
    2. Do you use separate sets of dishes for khometz and 
       Passover? 

   The answers are the same for both questions: 76, "no"; 35, 
"yes". The B'nai Khaim who do not keep separate sets of milk 
and meat dishes do not keep separate sets of khometz and 
Passover dishes either. The degree of this practice, however, 
differs as between the foreign-born and the native-born. For the 
foreign-born the ratio is 3 "no" to 2 "yes." For the 
native-born the ratio is 3 "no" to 1 "yes". 
    The two questions for the men were: 

    1. Do you say hamotze lekhem? 
    2. Do you cover your head when eating? 

   Here, too, the answers are practically the same to both 
questions: 93 "no" to 8 "yes" for the first, and 95 "no" to 
6 "yes" for the second. And here, too, the degree of 
observance differs as between the foreign-born and the 
native≠born. For the foreign-born the ratio is 7 "no" to 1 "yes".
For the native-born the ratio is 59 "no" to 1 "yes". For the 
native-born, saying hamotze lekhem and covering the head 
when eating have almost completely vanished as an exercise of 
Jewishness. It is dying out rapidly among the foreign-born.

Notes to Chapter 6:

(1) American Judaism, Chicago University Press, 1957, pp. 140-41. 
(2) As reported in the New York Times, October 28,1965. 
(3) We did not define these terms. We thought that a prescribed definition 
    might inhibit a free response. Instead, we followed up with several 
    supporting questions of a specific nature.



CandleMaker Kaprov
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