Hgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter13.htmlgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter13.htmldelayedx0zJaOKtext/html@܌ab.HSun, 24 Aug 2008 15:53:49 GMTMozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, */zJa The B'nai Khaim in America
Chapter 13 - The "Third" Generation 

   In the preceding chapters we studied the changes which have 
taken place in the culture of the first and second generations of 
the American B'nai Khaim. We traced these changes from the 
religious culture of old Russia into the secular culture of 
modem America. We saw the B'nai Khaim abandoning old religious 
modes of living and adopting the modes of a sophisticated 
   Many Jewish leaders see in such trends a threat to the very 
survival of Judaism in this country. They point especially to the 
tendency of the upcoming generation to forsake ancestral 
tradition as leading to the loss of Jewish identity, in particular 
through intermarriage. The uniqueness of our study is the fact 
that we can follow these trends over three consecutive generations 
and thus are able to evaluate more concretely their significance 
to the future of Judaism in America. 
   However, we must caution our readers that our "third" generation 
is still too limited in numbers to provide a broad enough base 
upon which to establish firm trends. Our native-born B'nai Khaim 
women have not been very prolific. They have been 
raising an average of no more than 2.2 children per family, just 
enough to produce a stationary population. Besides, their offspring 
are of but recent vintage. Of the 39 young people we 
study in this chapter - 22 boys and 17 girls, all unmarried - 17 
were between 16 and 18 years old and 18 between 19 and 22. 
Four were 23 years old and over; the eldest, a psychiatric social 
worker, was 30; in all, 35 of the 39 were still either in high 
school or in college. We begin with age 16 because we deemed 
that age as the minimum to respond to our questions with fairly 
reasoned judgment. 
   It should be noted, further, that only 23 of our 39 young 
people were strictly third-generation B'nai Khaim, in the sense 
of being native-born of native parentage. Seven were of 
"mixed" parentage; that is, only one parent was native-born. 
Eight were second-generation, and one, who came here from 
Israel at the age of four, was foreign-born. These 15, with the 
exception of the one foreign-born, were qualified for our group 
by being native-born, at least 16 years old, and unmarried. 
   What we wanted to know of these young people was not only 
the degree of their observance or non-observance of Jewish traditions, 
as we did for their parents, but also, and in particular, 
their own conception of the culture they were building for 
themselves as Jews and as Americans. 
   The first question we asked of them related to their attitude 
toward intermarriage, the most sensitive index of the maintenance 
of Jewish identity. In part we covered that question in 
a previous connection (Chapter 9), where we studied the 
rate of intermarriage among all the B'nai Khaim. We learned 
there that 30 per cent of the boys and 18 per cent of the girls 
16 years of age and over indicated that they "would marry a 
non-Jew." For the boys that included only the straight 
"yesses." One of them also had said "maybe" and one "possibly 
yes." With these included, the total is raised from six to eight, 
and the percentage is raised to over 36. For their parents the 
intermarriage rate ran up to about 10 per cent. The trend, if the 
figures for the third generation materialize, is unmistakable. 
   We asked our young people: 

   1. Do you associate freely with non-Jews? 
   2. Do you date non-Jews? 
   3. Would you marry a non-Jew? 
   4. If not, why not? 

   Nearly all the boys (20 out of 22) and nearly 80 per cent of 
the girls (13 out of the 17) said they associated freely with 
non-Jews. This is to be expected in an age of commingling of 
young people of diverse creeds, nationalities and increasingly of 
races in our public schools from nursery to the university. 
   When it came to dating non-Jews, no more than one-half of 
the boys and only one-third of the girls said "yes," they dated 
non-Jews. But as one college girl explained: "I do date 
non-Jewish men occasionally, but try not to prolong our friendship 
for more than a few dates." As to marrying a non-Jew, as we 
have already noted, the rates go down to 36 per cent for the 
boys and to 18 per cent for the girls. 
   The gradual drawing away from intermarriage possibilities is 
strikingly documented when we place the above figures side-byside: 

                  Associate 	Date 	   Marry 
                   Freely     Non-Jews 	 Non-Jews
                  _________   ________   ________

     Sex    Total Yes    No   Yes   No   Yes   No
     ___    _____ ___    __   ___   __   ___   __

     Boys   22     20 	  2    11   11     8   14

     Girls  17 	   13 	  4 	6   10     3   14
 	    __     __    __    __   __    __   __
     Total  39 	   33 	  6    17   21    11   28

   Only two of the boys said they did not freely associate with 
non-Jews, but 11 said "no" on dating and 14 said "no" to 
marrying non-Jews. 
   Of the 17 girls four said "no" to freely associating with 
nonJews, 10 said "no" to dating them, and 14 said "no" to marrying 
   Similarly informative are the diversities in attitudes when the 
respondents are compared by age groups. Taking only the question 
of marriage, we find the following differences: 

            Would You Marry a Non-Jew? 

                                 Boys                     Girls
                           _________________         _________________
   Age Group              Total   Yes    No         Total   Yes    No
   _________              _____   ___    ___        _____   ___    ___
   High School, 16 - 18     9      4      5           7      1      6

   College, 19 - 22         9      3      6           5      2      3
   College Graduates, 23+   4      1      3           4      -      4
                           __     __     __          __     __     __

        Total              22      8     14          16*     3     13

* One of the 17 responses was "not sure."
   The first thing that strikes the eye in this table is that the 
eldest group, the college graduates, seem least enchanted with 
the prospect of intermarriage. Of the four boys aged 23 and 
over, only one said "yes" to our question. None of the girls of 
this age group said "yes." The high-school age group gave the 
highest proportion of "yesses" for the boys. The second large 
proportion, 40 per cent, was recorded for the college girls. It 
should be noted, however, that the numbers for our analysis are 
very small, and we should not claim that the conclusions based 
on them are definitive. At most they can be taken as only 
   The religious taboo was given as the main reason against 
intermarriage. As one of the Rabbi's grandsons summed it up: 
"Completely contrary to all laws of Judaism." Some, especially 
the girls, were mindful of their parents' feelings. One 18-year
old wrote, "My parents would probably have heart attacks 
(literally)." Both boys and girls mentioned possible increase in 
strain of marital adjustment for eschewing intermarriage. "Too 
many personal complications," one 19-year-old boy explained 
his negative position. 

   5. If you did marry a gentile would you require your spouse 
      to adopt Judaism? 
   6. Would you adopt the religion of your spouse? 

   Four of the eight boys and one of the three girls who said 
they would marry gentiles said they would require them to 
adopt Judaism. None of them said they would adopt the religion 
of their gentile mates. Almost all of the 39 boys and girls 
said they would raise their children as Jews. The exceptions 
were two boys and three girls who said they would raise their 
children in no religion. One young man said he was "not sure." 

    7. In any event, we asked, would you have 
       (a) a religious marriage?
       (b) a civil ceremony? 

    Of the boys who answered this question, 17 would have a 
religious marriage and one a civil ceremony. The others were in 
doubt. Of the girls, 12 favored a religious marriage, two a 
civil ceremony. 
    The freer association in our schools of children of diverse 
races, creeds and national origin may also help explain the much 
more liberal attitude of the younger generation than their 
fathers' toward Negro integration. We put to them the same 
question we had put to their elders: 
    1. Are you in favor of Negro integration 
       (a) in schools?
       (b) in housing? 
       (c) socially?

    In this case we added the question: 

    2. Would you date a Negro? 

    One-hundred per cent of the boys were in favor of school 
integration and 90 per cent in favor of integrated housing and 
social integration. The girls were less enthusiastic than the boys, 
but still were ahead of their parents: 88 per cent favoring school 
integration, 70 per cent favoring integrated housing, and 50 per 
cent favoring social integration. The attitude of their elders 
(Chapter 11) was 85 per cent in favor of school integration, 
56 per cent in favor of integrated housing and 41 per cent 
in favor of social integration. In this respect, the girls follow the 
sentiments of their mothers whose percentages for integration 
were: 80, school; 50, housing; 40, social. 
    The boys proceeded from the premise that "Negroes are 
people" and should have the same rights and privileges as the 
rest of us. The girls temporized: "Can't explain," said one who 
favored school and housing integration, but gagged on social 
integration. From one 17-year-old on the question of dating 
Negroes: "This is a very hard question to answer. ... Maybe I 
am just against it." Of the boys, seven would date Negroes, 14 
would not. Of the girls, three would date, 13 would not. 
    Negroes should be treated as individuals, not on the basis of 
color, was the general feeling. One 18-year-old boy from California 
favors "interracial social relations not resulting in marriage 
and do not damage and only benefit those involved." Another 
18-year-old Californian wrote: "I have been fortunate to attain 
many colored boys as friends in the past. Their realistic equality 
in society is inevitable, and there shouldn't be any reason to 
prevent it from happening today." Our Rabbinical student asserted: 
"Integration is a moral commitment to our fellowmen." 
He would not marry a Negro, he said, unless she was a "Jewish 
Negro." A Canadian-born 18-year-old boy argued: "lf the Negro 
cannot be accepted socially, how can he be accepted in any 
other way?" 
    The dilemma for these young people is real and they each try 
separately to resolve it. Perhaps the following soul-searching of 
a 17-year-old girl raised in the South and now entering college 
in California is a poignant example. She writes: 

    a. There is no reason to deny them the same type of schooling 
       we have. However, in most cases, unfortunately, equal 
       schooling does the Negro little or no good since he cannot 
        apply his knowledge to the type of job which it warrants. 

    b. I think it would be fine to have integration in housing and 
       I would like to have my kids play with Negro kids, but I 
       really don't think this is possible. You know the story-as 
       soon as a Negro moves into a neighborhood, the whole neighborhood 
       turns colored and, consequently, the price of 
       property goes down. To be perfectly honest, I would 
       probably be one of the first to sell my home. (Did you see 
       "A Raisin in the Sun"?) 

    c. Socially. Here again I contradict myself in theory and in 
       practice. It depends, first of all, on what you mean socially. I 
       have some Negro girl friends and though I know some very 
       fine Negro boys and wouldn't mind dating them, my parents 
       were mad enough at my dating shaigitses (!) (gentile boys) 
       and said I had to draw the line. I never realized they were 
       prejudiced until this question came up and they told me 
       they'd be ashamed if I was dating a Negro. Frankly, I don't 
       think they would have said this had they lived out here (the 
       Coast) or perhaps up North. The South atmosphere has been 
       rubbing off too much on them. (They had lived in Chicago.) 
       My two best friends are rather violently anti-Negro and one 
       was horrified when I told her that I had spoken to a Negro 
       boy. Both these girls are Jewish, yet they resent the association 
       of Jews and Negroes as minority groups .... 

    d. As to marrying a Negro: Since most Negroes are gentiles I 
       am against this to begin with. However, I generally would not 
       marry a Negro, nor want my children to, for the same reason 
       as I wouldn't marry a gentile. The offspring of intermarriage 
       are generally outcasts, or, at the very least, have a difficult 
       time adjusting to society. In a mixed racial marriage, besides, 
       the couple itself can have a hard time adjusting except in 
       special cases, such as out here (the university town in California), 
       where it is a common practice. On the other hand, 
       once I am married, I hope that my husband and I will have 
       some Negro couples as friends. 

    In the attitude of the young generation towards the Negro we 
have a nearly complete departure from the attitude of their 
parents. They stay closer to their parents in the matter of 
observing Jewish rites and rituals, to an extent even leaning to the 
conservative side of their elders. Where their parents tended to 
break away from their parents, the younger generation appears 
to be retracing the steps back to the family traditions. So we 
find, for example, that whereas of second-generation males 7 
per cent observed kashroth fully and 72 percent not at all, of 
the third-generation males 9 per cent observe Kashroth fully 
and 55 per cent not at all. 
    Of the females, none of the second generation observed the 
Jewish dietary laws fully and 53 per cent observed not at all; of 
the third-generation females 12 observed fully and 53 per cent 
not at all. In tabulated form: 

                                 Observance of Kashroth

                      Per Cent Fully        Per Cent Not At All
                      ______________        ___________________
2nd generation 
   male                    7                        72
   female                  0                        53
3rd generation 
    male                   9                        55
    female                 12                       53

    How long the conservative trend of the younger generation 
will last, we cannot of course tell. The four third-generation 
strict observers are descendants of Rabbi Kaprov. A 20-year-old 
great-granddaughter writes from Bangor: 

   As new generations appear, it is obvious that Jewish 
customs and beliefs are not being followed. 
   I know of many Jewish families that call themselves Jews, 
but do nothing to show it except giving their sons fancy 
Bar Mitzvah parties. 
   In our family many Jewish customs have been given to me 
and I would not deprive my children of any of them. I wish 
more girls my age felt this way and I feel very sorry for any 
Jewish child who has never had the opportunity to see how 
wonderful family traditions and customs are. I am truly a 
lucky girl. 

   Said a 17-year-old high-school boy in California: 

   I feel that man has evolved randomly, with no purpose as 
controlling force. It is foolish to deny ourselves pleasure; 
sensual, intellectual, or otherwise. Yet life should not be one 
big orgy, either. We should pay some attention to the betterment 
of ourselves and others, materially and intellectually. 
   I used to pray every day (writes our Texas B'nai Khaim girl), 
but lately I have come to question my religion and rather 
than be hypocritical, I generally don't pray. I feel that when 
I finally do decide, and if I do believe in God, that He will 
forgive me for not praying during the interval. 

   As a rule it was not until they began leaving home upon marriage 
that second-generation B'nai Khaim began breaking away 
from the Kashroth observed by their immigrant parents. It 
should be noted that none of our 23+ of third-generation B'nai Khaim 
were strict observers. 
   A surprisingly large proportion of the young people said they 
fasted on Yom Kippur: 50 per cent of the boys and 70 (!) per 
cent of the girls. This is clearly the influence of Mother. Only 
41 per cent of the fathers, but 70 per cent of the mothers, said 
they fasted on Yom Kippur. The fasting among the new generation 
was concentrated in the younger age groups-in high school 
and college for the boys; in high school for the girls. 
   Seventeen of the 22 boys were Bar Mitzvah and 6 of the 17 
girls were Bat Mitzvah. Bat MItzvah is a rather recently adopted 
ritual among the B'nai Khaim, and so is "confirmation." One of 
our boys and 3 of our girls were confirmed. One of the boys 
had a "secular" Bar Mitzvah, which really means a Bar Mitzvah 
festivity without the ritual. 
   Sixteen of the 17 boys who were Bar Mitzvah expect their 
sons to be Bar Mitzvah and 8 would expect their daughters to 
be Bat Mitzvah. Three would possibly go for "confirmation." 
Nine of our 17 girls expect their sons to be Bar Mitzvah. Seven 
of the 17 would favor "confirmation" for their children. 
   Nearly all of third-generation B'nai Khaim, then, accept the 
idea of Bar Mitzvah. Bat Mitzvah or "confirmation" for their 
children. This was not true of their parents. Of the new generation 
70 per cent expected their sons to be Bar Mitzvah; of the 
second-generation males, 60 per cent planned Bar Mitzvah for 
their sons. Thirty-six per cent of our boys plan Bat Mitzvah for 
their daughters. Significantly, between 45 and 50 per cent of 
the parents went all out for "confirmation" for their children, a 
new respectability for Jews with rising espectations. 
   Sixty per cent of the young generation express warm feelings 
toward Israel, but with qualifications. Nearly 70 per cent of 
their fathers and fully 100 per cent of their mothers entertained 
such feelings, mostly without reservations. The third generation 
were 20 years removed from the times of the Nazi atrocities. 
   There was considerable diversity of views among our young 
people regarding the state of Israel. One 16-year-old grandson of 
the Rabbi said: "I have absolutely nothing to do with the 
people of Israel," while another of his grandsons said Israel was 
the "only country I have; America is still Exile." 
   One 18-year old thought "Israel is a great thing for Jews of 
Europe-nothing for American Jews." 
   One young B'nai Khaim is "sympathetic" to Israel "not as 
the Promised Land, but as a country with vitality." 
   Another sympathizes with a "young country developing in 
midst of adversity." 
   But a 16-year-old Brooklyn girl says, "No. Part sympathy 
and respect but definitely not based on its Judaism. In fact, its 
religious militancy is what I don't like." 
   To another, however, Israel is a "seat of Jewish history and 
ancestry. Yes, spiritual ties." 
   A college senior, son of the half-Jewish mother and completely 
non-observing, sympathizes "a little with a vague feeling of 
nationalism tempered in many ways, e.g., by the senseless 
and arbitrary division of the Near East, and by suspicion of the 
capitalist-supported state, a potential force of reaction. I feel 
the Jews did not need all Israel, but once there, the best should 
be made of it." (This, we remember, was written early in 1964, 
three years before the Israel-Arab War of June, 1967.) 

   From some of the girls: 
   "Yes, exciting to think of Jews having a land." An 18-yearold 
writes from Texas: "Yes. I don't really believe in Zion or 
the Messiah or any of that stuff. I feel emotionally attached 
only because Israel is largely Jewish and I generally feel a closeness 
to the Jewish people." From a 17-year-old granddaughter 
of the Rabbi: "Israel-a symbol of all Jewish struggles-gives me 
a wonderful feeling of security." 
   Our third generation retains a strong sense of Jewish identity. 
Eighteen of our 22 boys and 12 of our 17 girls consider themselves 
Jews, or American Jews; four of the boys and five of the 
girls consider themselves "American of Jewish extraction." 
None of the boys and only one of the girls claims to be "plain 
American." The proportion, in general, is in line with those of 
the second generation. 
   On the whole, then, the third-generation B'nai Khaim is not 
seriously departing from the Jewishness of their parents. A 
major difference between the two generations may be the indicated 
rise in the intermarriage rate. Even at that, there are no 
signs of a trend toward assimilation. The B'nai Khaim, old or 
new generations, are not giving up their Jewish identity to 
merge with the Christian world amidst which they live. 
   An interesting departure from the second generation is 
discernible on the secular front. Jews, the B'nai Khaim among 
them, engage predominately in white-collar occupations and, to 
a growing extent, in the professions-pharmacists, dentists, 
lawyers, physicians. We saw in Chapters 4 and 5 that several of 
them had become mathematicians, psychoanalysts, and college 
professors. The new generation goes in for most of these 
conventional professions; but is also moving into new territories. 
They are beginning to enter the arts. One of them is studying 
architectural engineering; another aspires to become a painter; 
one writes poetry and is doing graduate work in playwriting; a 
fourth, an M.D., will not follow his father's footsteps by 
practicing medicine, but is going into medical research, specializing 
in pathology. 

                   * * * * *
   In the course of the first quarter of this century 87 Jews of a 
common ancestor, B'nai Khaim, settled in America. They came 
here from the ghettos of the Ukraine, most of them semi-illiterate, 
penniless, imbued with the historic veneration of learning 
denied them in Tsarist Russia. Six more came here since the 
end of World War II, making a total of 93. By 1964, their 
descendants, and those of the original 93 who were still living, 
numbered about 350 and lived in 26 different towns and cities 
throughout the United States. 
  Here they struck new roots, raised families and in various 
ways adapted to the American way of life. None of them became 
rich, but most of them managed to finance their children 
to high levels of education. A number of their children and 
grandchildren have achieved successful careers in the learned 
   Most of them have abandoned strict observance of the commandments 
governing the daily life of Jews for centuries, and a 
number have abandoned Jewish religious customs entirely. They 
have become broadly acculturated to the modes and manners of 
middle- to upper middle-class Americans. Several have married 
outside their ancestral Faith, and a tendency is that direction is 
becoming manifest in attitudes expressed among the younger 
generation. There is as yet no visible trend toward assimilation. 
All of them continue to retain a strong sense of Jewish identity. 

CandleMaker Kaprov
E-Mail: CandleMaker_Kaprov@Yahoo.com

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