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Building Jewish Community among Young Couples

June 2017

Among non-Orthodox Jews today, couples and families are more likely to be inter-married than in-married. The Pew Research Center study of the Jewish community found that 71% of non-Orthodox Jews are intermarrying. Jews with only one Jewish parent are more likely to identify as “of no religion,” and are less likely to participate in Jewish communal life. Given this data, engagement of intermarried families has shifted from a focused conversation about what was framed as a narrow market, to a broader conversation about the extent to which the Jewish community is or is not welcoming. If most non-Orthodox Jews today are intermarried, then a community that is not welcoming to intermarried families is, in turn, not welcoming to most non-Orthodox Jews. By providing low-barrier, yet engaging, experiences where all are welcomed as they are, couples and families of all backgrounds can find meaningful ways to connect to Jewish life and explore what having a Jewish family means to them.

Honeymoon Israel provides young couples with at least one Jewish partner highly subsidized nine day trips to Israel with other couples from the same city. Honeymoon Israel's goal is to welcome diverse couples to the Jewish community, and inspire them to incorporate Jewish values into their lives in a way that is meaningful for them. The majority (65%) of Honeymoon Israel trip participants are intermarried couples, 20% are couples where one partner is a Jew by choice and 15% are couples where both partners were born or raised Jewish.

In many ways, the Honeymoon Israel trip is a powerful catalyst to a much longer and broader journey that happens when couples return home with their newfound community. Upon return, local Honeymoon Israel couples frequently gather together socially, culturally and sometimes religiously throughout the year – many times for life cycle events for which their Honeymoon Israel friends have now become their built-in ‘family’ in their city.

Data has found that within one year of participation, roughly half of Honeymoon Israel couples are pregnant or have children. Honeymoon Israel connects and supports couples through various life stages as they continue to have conversations about how they wish to connect to Jewish life and how they will raise their children by bridging them to Jewish early childhood programming.  This type of personal and relevant post–trip engagement makes it easier for couples to sustain their connection to Jewish life long after they return home from Israel.

As of summer 2017, Honeymoon Israel operates trips from 14 cities across North America, including Chicago.