Around the World, Jews Are Showing New Enthusiasm for Religious Observance

December 1, 2023 | Melissa Langsam Braunstein
About the author:

In Israel, hundreds of religious men and women have taken to tying tsitsit—knotted ritual tassels worn on special undershirts, per Numbers 15:37–40—to satisfy the demand from otherwise secular soldiers who have recently taken up the practice. This is just one example of an apparent surge in religious observance in both Israel and in the Diaspora since October 7. Melissa Langsam Braunstein considers the evidence:

Of 211 Chabad rabbis who responded to a poll of its U.S. emissaries three weeks ago, 98 percent saw their communities increasing religious observance, 86 percent reported increased attendance at prayers and events, and 93 percent noticed more communal interest in connecting with fellow Jews. In 86 percent of Chabad communities, people felt more strongly connected to their Jewish identity.

Much of the other information Braunstein has assembled is, naturally anecdotal, but it comes from all precincts. For instance:

At Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, New Jersey—a more than 170-year-old synagogue that doesn’t associate with a Jewish denomination—the cantor Jessica Fox has noticed a “definite uptick” in Friday-night attendance and at services on Shabbat morning when there is not a bar or bat mitzvah. “Not huge numbers, but noticeably more attending,” she told JNS.  “Several people said they’re lighting candles again to show the kids a positive aspect,” Fox said of her congregants.

Read more on JNS: