Emergent Jewish Communities and Their Participants

Preliminary Findings from the 2007 National Spiritual Communities Study

Over the past few years, we have seen an important new phenomenon in Jewish life: the creation of dozens of independent minyanim, spiritual communities, alternative worship services,EMERGENT JEWISH COMMUNITIES and their PARTICIPANTS: Preliminary Findings from the 2007 National Spiritual Communities Study and emergent congregations. This rich array adds diverse opportunities for worship, learning, social justice work, community-building and spiritual expression.

We knew very little about the thousands of people associated with these new endeavors. Who are they? What are their concerns? How do they feel about the communities they’re creating, joining, and building? Why do they participate?

To answer these questions, the S3K Synagogue Studies Institute, in collaboration with Mechon Hadar, conducted a survey designed by the prominent sociologist Steven M. Cohen in partnership Steven M. Cohen, J. Shawn Landres, Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, and Michelle Shain. Our goal was to find out more about the participants, members, partners, and “acquaintances” of these new spiritual communities. The results of this work is the first ever portrait of the interests, values, and concerns of a critical innovative turn in American Judaism.

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