Identity, Religion

Stand up and be counted

Independent minyanim/havurot/communities have been transforming American Judaism for 40 years, but there has been a particularly significant wave in the last few years, with new communities starting (it seems) every few weeks. There has not yet been a systematic study of the population of these independent Jewish communities, to gather data about who we are and what our values and concerns are. Mechon Hadar and the S3K Synagogue Studies Institute are now conducting such a survey, designed by sociologist Steven M. Cohen. You can participate in the survey at and share information about yourself and your community.

10 thoughts on “Stand up and be counted

  1. I really enjoyed the question on whether I considered myself to be a “Super Jew”. WTF?

  2. Yeah, to the extent that anyone uses that phrase (and I don’t), it’s generally applied to others, not to oneself, and is a mark of insecurity. I wonder whether anyone checked yes for that one.

  3. I think I heard about it from both Jews in the Woods and Tikkun Leil Shabbat. not sure about the second, though.
    I don’t remember the super-jew question clearly, but I’m not certain I said no 🙂

  4. Does anyone know which communities were asked to participate and which decided to do so?
    As I understand it, anyone is welcome to fill out the survey about any community, but the communities specifically invited to participate were those that meet regularly (once a month or more) and are less than 10 years old. (This doesn’t include JITW, for the first and soon to be the second reason, but someone sent it to the JITW list anyway, and that’s swell.) Of the communities that were invited, I don’t know how many are and aren’t participating (i.e. announcing the survey to their email lists), but I know that i’ve gotten it from at least 10 minyanim. (I make it my business to be on the email lists of every independent minyan in NYC, and several in other cities as well.)
    Do you know of communities that should have been included and weren’t?

  5. I’m on romemu’s list and haven’t gotten the survey yet, though I just found out that they have been invited to participate. I’m inquring with the organizer about whether the enitre mailing list will be asked to participate.

  6. Elie Kaunfer (Mechon Hadar) and I (S3K) extended invitations to all the new independent minyanim and emerging communities that we were able to find. Some of them chose not to respond, and others chose not to participate formally. And still other communities have agreed to participate but have not yet sent around the information….
    However, this doesn’t mean that non-participating communities are unrepresented in the survey. That’s because the methodology of the survey is such that the respondent is asked to write in the names of 1 or 2 communities about which to answer questions — that is, the respondent her/himself gets to choose the communities, not the other way around.
    So one might get the survey from Kehilat Ploni but choose to fill it out and identify with/answer questions for both Kehilat Ploni and Chavurat Almoni, even though Chavurat Almoni didn’t send around the link to its membership.
    (That’s also why we wanted the survey info to go out on blogs and lists like JITW, so that people aren’t dependent on a limited number of communities for the survey link.)
    As a result, we’ve seen some community names emerge through the survey dataset about which we hadn’t previously heard, and Elie & I have attempted to contact them to encourage them to circulate the survey info more formally.
    Please don’t hesitate to send us names of communities you think haven’t been reached; we’ll be happy to do our best to contact them. We want as wide a circulation and as high a response rate as possible.
    As for the super-Jew question, we’ll let the results surprise you….

  7. Hi Shawn, It’s all data and I hope you report the recruitment process and who decided to partcipate (and maybe why) in your write ups. I loved the questions on community decision making by the way.

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