Study Assesses B’nai Mitzvah that Bypass Synagogue

November 12, 2015

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


In the first of a series of research reports, the Community Foundation for Jewish Education of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago looks at the rising trend in families forgoing congregational education and/or membership while preparing and conducting their own bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies for their children.


CFJE Reports: A Closer Look at Independent B’nai Mitzvah in the Chicagoland Area” authored by Abigail Pickus, provides a snapshot of this trend, offering a glimpse inside the motivations of families who undertake this process, the tutors and clergy who assist them, and the synagogue professionals who struggle with the loss of these families to the congregational community.

Demographic groups most likely to choose the independent route are unaffiliated, special needs and interfaith families, the study found. However, many others, including those actively engaged in Jewish life, also have opted for alternative approaches.

The report offers local educators and others insight into the reasoning for, and impact of, this phenomenon so they can better understand and work with b’nai mitzvah families, CFJE Executive Director Rabbi Scott Aaron, Ph.D., said. The do-it-yourself push also reflects the larger challenges congregations face today in maintaining their historic position as central institutions of Jewish communal life.

Going forward, the CFJE Reports research series will chronicle understudied areas of Jewish education in the Chicago area, informing and guiding educators and others throughout the community, Aaron said.

Read more at eJewish Philanthropy

Updated: Dec. 09, 2015