Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/445

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441
THE JEWS: RACE AND ENVIRONMENT

THE JEWS: A STUDY OF RACE AND ENVIRONMENT
By Dr. MAURICE FISHBERG

NEW YORK CITY

II. Marriages.

ONE of the most important causes of the low birth rate of the Jews is their low marriage rate. Only about fifty years ago an unmarried Jew was very rare in Europe, while an old maid was hardly to be met with in the Ghetto. They then followed closely the rabbinical ordinances: "It is the duty of every Israelite to marry as early in life as possible. Eighteen years is the age set by the rabbis; any one remaining unmarried after his twentieth year is said to be cursed by God Himself. Some rabbis urge that children should marry as soon as they reach the age of puberty, i. e., the fourteenth year. A man, who, without any reason, refuses to marry after he has passed his twentieth year is frequently compelled to do so by court."[1] These Talmudical ordinances are not observed to-day by the bulk of European and American Jews, and their marriage rates are much below those of the christian populations among which they live.

Taking first statistics of the crude marriage rate, i. e., the annual number of marriages per 1,000 population, we find in every country in Europe, where data are available, that the rates for the Jews are lower, as can be seen from the following table:

Country. Period No. of Marriages per 1,000 Population.
Jews. Christians.
Algeria 1903 9.12 8.17
Germany 1903 7.10 8.27
Prussia 1904 7.37 8.56
Bavaria 1903 7.8 7.70
European Russia 1897 7.37 9.48
Warsaw, Poland 1901 6.71 8.72
Roumania 1902 10.30 18.70
Hungary 1900 8.04 8.84
Bohemia 1900 7.24 8.26
United States 1886-90 7.40 ——

It must be emphasized that even these figures do not give an adequate idea of the low marriage rates of the Jews, because the Jewish population contains a smaller number of children and larger proportion


  1. 'Jewish Encyclopedia,' Vol. VIII., p. 347.