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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 age. 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 them. 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 suggestive. 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 professions. 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.