It is somewhat surprising that researchers have paid so little attention to how people experience divorce in congregations. Studies that do address the relationship between religion and divorce are largely quantitative, measuring divorce numbers. Rarely do these reports consider the personal impact and how (or if) communities support those affected by divorce. Do synagogues know how to handle end of relationship issues?
From 2005 to 2009, Professor Kathleen E. Jenkins, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the College of William and Mary conducted sixty interviews with divorced individuals (eleven Jewish) active in a variety of religious communities. Professor Jenkins interviewed forty clergy (twelve rabbis) and lay leaders. Three of the rabbis had been divorced.
Professors Jenkins recounts numerous instances in which synagogues and churches fell short in addressing the pain and stigma that often accompany divorce. The report concludes with some simple, practical suggestions for synagogues to better serve this distinct community.
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