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Meanwhile, the cultural memory of the Holocaust and the racialized persecution of the Jews still looms large, making the prospect of a dwindling population particularly sensitive.The lesson, then, that many Jewish kids absorb at an early age is that their heritage comes with responsibilities—especially when it comes to getting married and having kids.In large part, that’s because Jewish organizations put a lot of time and money into spreading precisely this message.For the Jewish leaders who believe this is important for the future of the faith, youth group, road trips, summer camp, and online dating are the primary tools they use in the battle to preserve their people.***Although Judaism encompasses enormous diversity in terms of how people choose to observe their religion, leaders from the most progressive to the most Orthodox movements basically agree: If you want to persuade kids to marry other Jews, don’t be too pushy.“We try not to hit them over the head with it too frequently or too often,” said Rabbi Micah Greenland, who directs the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), an Orthodox-run organization that serves about 25,000 high school students each year.But make no mistake: This doesn’t mean they have a laissez-faire attitude about intermarriage.In every denomination, the leaders I talked with are thinking intentionally about how to strengthen the sense of connection among teenaged Jews.“There’s no question that one of the purposes of the organization is to keep Jewish social circles together at this age,” said Matt Grossman, the executive director of the non-denominational organization BBYO, which serves about 39,000 American students each year.“If they’re in an environment where their closest friends are Jewish, the likelihood that they’re going to end up dating people from those social circles, and ultimately marry someone from those social circles, increases dramatically,” Grossman said.Rabbi Isaac Saposnik leads a camp for Reconstructionist Jews, who are part of a newer, progressive movement to reconnect with certain Jewish rituals while remaining modern.He spoke about his movement’s effort to expand their tiny youth programs, which currently serve around 100 students each year.

But even among less observant Jews, there seems to be a lingering sense that Jewish social connections are critical, especially when it comes to dating.Organizations like Hillel, a non-denominational campus outreach organization, have gathered data on the most efficient ways of encouraging these friendships.“If you have students reaching out to other students to get them involved in Jewish life, and when an educator is paired with them, they end up having more Jewish friends than your average student,” said Abi Dauber-Sterne, the vice president for “Jewish experiences.” Summer camp is also effective at building Jewish bonds.“It was astonishing for us to realize that the difference is such a huge difference.”It’s hard to measure the success of any of these programs definitively.There’s certainly some self-selection bias at work.

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