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Jewish Families Tend to Quit Synagogue After Bar Mitzvah of Children

A survey by the United Synagogue of America, the association of Conservative congregations, disclosed today that Jewish families tend to “drop out” of congregational membership after their children become Bar Mitzvah or graduate from elementary religious school.

The survey found that of 7,817 families in 398 Conservative congregations who resigned for reasons other than death or removal from the area, 3.718 left when the son, and in some cases, the daughter became Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah or graduated from the elementary division of the religious school they attended.

The survey found that an additional 1,459 families left their congregations because of a “lack of interest.” The survey indicated that more than 5,000 families thus “could not be persuaded to retain their synagogue affiliation.”

The Reconstructionist magazine, commenting on the findings, said that the problem was “accentuated by the fact that fewer than 50 percent of Jewish families join in the first place.” The survey queried congregations on their membership potential. Of the 323 congregations replying, a total membership of 102,522 families was reported as contrasted with an estimated 238,367 Jewish families in their areas “who are not members of any congregation.”

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