Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/49

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45
TEE JEWS: RACE AND ENVIRONMENT

of Jews to Christianity are comparatively rare in Russia and Roumania, while, in common with all others who are on a low social and economic level, their natural increase, i. e., the excess of births over deaths is enormous among them. They increase in number in spite of the attempt to check them. This is substantiated by the statistical evidence gathered from the censuses of Russia, Roumania, Poland, Galicia, etc.

On the other hand, in western Europe, in Germany, Italy, France, England and in America, where the Jews are enjoying civil liberty on an equal basis with the general population, and where they are, as a result, on a superior plane socially, intellectually and economically, their birth and marriage rates are so low, that even with phenomenally low death rates there is left a very small excess of births over deaths, in fact they show a striking retrogression and decadence. This decadence is by no means accidental, but can be traced as due to the remarkable development they have been undergoing during the last seventy-five years, and also to the social intercourse with gentiles which in addition also brings about mixed marriages. The children born to these mixed couples are lost to the Jews, less than twenty-five per cent, and there is good reason to believe that hardly more than ten per cent, remain Jews, while the rest is net gain to Christianity. On the whole, the native Jews in western Europe and America are being decimated by a low birth rate, and absorbed by intermarriage with christians. Any increase in their number is due to immigration from eastern Europe.

The demographic facts presented by the Jews may also be taken as an index of their religious status. In the orient and in eastern Europe, where the devotion to their faith is intense, they have high birth rates, early marriages, substantial excess of births over deaths, and no intermarriages with christians occur. In western Europe and in America conditions are different and go hand in hand with an evident lessened intensity of faith, often amounting to religious indifference. In fact, the cruel persecutions and massacres to which they were exposed during the last two thousand years have not robbed the Jews of as large a proportion of adherents as modern emancipation with its concomitant adaptation of the habits and customs of modern civilized life. To take Russia as an example. There the Jews are oppressed mainly with one aim in view: to gain them for the Greek orthodox church. As soon as he adopts Christianity, the Jew, besides receiving a bonus of thirty silver roubles, is also given all the rights enjoyed by the christian population. But notwithstanding all these tempting advantages offered, less than 90,000 Jews were converted during the nineteenth century. In contrast with this may be taken Prussia, where the number of Jews is only 392,322 (1900) as against about 5,500,000 in