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The result of all this confusion is disagreement as to the total size of the American Jewish population.

Although most scholars have settled on a figure of between 5.2 and 5.5 million, a few, counting both Jews and the Gentiles living with them, would add as many as 1.2 million more.

Even before this, however, demographers had come to an impasse over whom to count as part of the Jewish population ― a question necessitated by the increasingly porous nature of American society and the country's generally high rates of intermarriage.

For example, should an individual raised as a Christian or as an adherent of an Eastern religion be considered a Jew if he or she had one Jewish parent?

Economic advancement, the availability of birth control, and rising educational achievement caused Jewish fertility to start dropping as long ago as the middle of the 19th century in Europe and later in other modernizing societies like the United States.

Nor, as is well known, is the phenomenon limited to Jews, or to the U.

The most recent National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS), conducted under the auspices of the federations of Jewish philanthropies in the years 2000-01 with guidance from a stellar team of scholars, was blemished by a series of polling mishaps.

Damagingly, the survey stretched out over a two-year period, some data were lost, and some respondents were never asked the full battery of questions.

S.; in contemporary Europe and Japan, it has reached proportions that threaten catastrophe.

Still, Jewish women in the United States are significantly less fertile than their white, Gentile counterparts.

On the basis of the consensus figure of 5.5 million, the Jewish population of the United States has, at best, remained static for the past 50 years, despite the influx during that same period of at least a half-million Jewish immigrants. Entitled ewish Distinctiveness in America: A Statistical Portrait, it marshals considerable evidence for the relatively advanced age of the American Jewish population.

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