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Unlike the Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe, most of these Muslim immigrants, the biggest groups of whom arrived in the 1970s, were from the middle and upper classes and came for a university education.
Some planned to return to their countries, but as the political situation at home deteriorated, a large population settled here.
The findings in Riley’s book, for which she commissioned a national study, raise the question of whether Jewish institutions interested in reducing interfaith marriages should be encouraging Jews to marry at a younger age.
They aren’t doing that now, according to Riley, and the American Jewish intermarriage rate is about 50 percent.
Riley, who identifies as a Conservative Jew, is herself intermarried.
She says assimilation has been a good and bad thing for American Jews.
That was the first year Pew studied whom Muslims married, and it’s one of the only organizations to do so.
Muslims intermarry less often than other faith groups with longer histories in the United States, such as Catholics and Jews, but they do so more often than Hindus (10 percent) and about as often as Mormons (17 percent), according to a 2007 Pew study.
About a century ago, when hundreds of thousands of Jews were immigrating to the United States, only about 1 percent, by some estimates, married non-Jews.Over the past half century, intermarriage has become increasingly common in the United States among all religions – but among Jews at the highest rate.Why that is the case is one of the questions Naomi Schaefer Riley probes in her new book, “‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America” (Oxford University Press).“It doesn’t mean that anti-Semitism is over, but there’s much more philo-Semitism than anti-Semitism in America.”Riley says intermarriage is both a cause and effect of this phenomenon.“The more you have exposure to people of other faiths, the more likely you are to like them and then marry them yourself,” she said.