Jewish engagement of Reform Jews highest in new Chabad study

( A first-of-its kind study, conducted by independent researchers, found that Chabad on university campuses has a significant, long-term impact on Jewish students, especially Reform Jews.

The Chabad house at the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Credit: Ari Abitbol via Wikimedia Commons.

Students raised in the Reform tradition had the highest increase, 113 percent, in their Jewish engagement through Chabad on campus affiliation, followed by students with no denomination, at 107 percent. Conservative students were 63 percent more active than those not involved with Chabad.

The Hertog Foundation in New York commissioned and funded the study that surveyed more than 2,400 alumni under age 30 at some 22 campus Chabad centers. Researchers analyzed data collected over three years that measured Jewish participation and the Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s impact on university campuses.

“The impact is across the board, and is actually strongest for those who were raised Reform or unaffiliated,” said Dr. Mark I. Rosen, associate professor and director of field-experience programs at Brandeis University’s Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, and the lead author of the study.

A majority of students drawn to Chabad centers were from various backgrounds, with 88 percent of Chabad participants not coming from Orthodox homes.
“It’s counterintuitive that they would show up at all,” Rosen said.

He added that, “we’re seeing here is that you don’t have to be assimilated to reach other assimilated Jews. In fact, Chabad shows that it’s actually better to be engaged and Jewishly learned to succeed.”


Posted on September 23, 2016 .