I agree that it is tradition with a long history–although that tradition is Rabbinic and based in the historical exigencies of the post-Roman period. But that isn’t my point–rather, that in a pluralistic world, relying on ethnic identity primarily is self-destructive. A pair of born Jews who don’t bother to practice Judaism will not raise children who will practice Judaism–although they might feel some nostalgia for it. Further, simply relying on birth means that Jews don’t have to think about why Judaism matters–why bother to be Jewish? On the other hand, my liberal congregation has many intermarried Jews who practice and whose non-Jewish spouses support them in that practice to the point of converting. Which raises another much more difficult question–who considers these Jews Jewish? Particularly when the mother is the one who converts? Just to be clear, I think the ethnic component of Judaism matters–I’m not suggesting that it be abandoned–but I am very worried about the fact that it overshadows these other areas.
About the liberal denominations not reproducing–there are several variables at work there that need to be teased apart. The most likely culprit is education–more education generally is associated with smaller families. In addition, we are in a dominant culture that places work ahead of marriage and family for both men and women.
What seems to be relevant about Travolta’s alleged connection between “Jewish” and “gay” in his assertion that exchanging sex for career advancement is business as usual in Hollywood is precisely his linkage of the two via financial transaction. To say that Jews are prominent in Hollywood isn’t anti-Semitic, and to suggest that gays are prominent Hollywood isn’t homophobic. But to say that gay Jews habitually procure sex via money, power, and behind-the-scenes quid pro quo gets at the heart of why gay people and Jews have always been the target of conspiracy theories: gays and Jews