• Tuesday Mar. 20, 2018 6:30 PM

    National Museum of American Jewish History
    101 South Independence Mall East
    Philadelphia, PA 19106

Scientific Perspectives on Jewish Mating

UPDATE: This event has been CANCELLED due to inclement weather. Please stay tuned for information about rescheduling.

Scientists have studied breeding habits in animal populations for centuries, investigating mate selection, reproductive patterns, and evolutionary consequences. What if similar research methods were applied to human populations? This presentation brings together experts in evolutionary biology, genetics, the scientific study of religion, and sociology to answer this question as it relates to the Jews. A geneticists from Penn will explore evidence of past mating patterns, while sociologists from Brandeis and Whitman will analyze current trends in mate selection and fertility. Together, these specialists will use science to forecast the future of the Jews in the US and abroad.


Helen Kim is Professor of Sociology at Whitman College. With a teaching focus on race and ethnic relations, she investigates the world of racial, ethnic, and religious intermarriage. Kim’s current research focuses on the intersection of race and American Judaism, especially intermarriage and family dynamics among Jewish and Asian Americans.

Ronnie Sebro is a statistical geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania health system. Also an assistant professor of radiology in genetics, Sebro has published on disease in specialized populations, including national, religious, and varied age groups. He focuses on developing statistical tools and methods to assess the impact of population structure and non-random mating and has recently conducted a study on spousal genetic similarity and its consequences.

Michelle Shain is Associate Research Scientist at Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. She focuses on levels of religious engagement in young adult Jewish American populations and has published widely on young adult Jewish identity as well as the intersection of religion and family formation.

Steven Weitzman (panel moderator) is the Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania and the Ella Darivoff Director of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. He specializes in the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Jewish culture and has published on the Jews in antiquity, religion in the same period, and on King Solomon. His most recent book is called The Origin of the Jews: The Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age, which Publishers Weekly called a “multicourse intellectual feast” and Kirkus Reviews described as “an accomplishment for the academy.” The book won the 2017 National Jewish Book Award in Education and Jewish Identity.