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Friday, June 24, 2016

Survey of Those Who Have Left Orthodoxy

Nishma Research has conducted a fascinating Survey of Those Who Have Left Orthodoxy - June 2016.

The Forward picked up on this and published an article called Ex-Orthodox Feel Pushed ‘Off the Derech’ — but 95% Still Say They’re Jewish:
"Many formerly ultra-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox Jews who no longer hold the beliefs of their communities feel “pushed off the derech,” yet still retain their sense of Jewish identity, a groundbreaking new study of the group has revealed.
A third of those surveyed have yet to physically leave their communities, and may maintain outward displays of religious observance while having “left” the community in their beliefs and private lives. When they do leave, over half the respondents reported feeling disconnected to any Jewish community, and nearly a quarter have trouble with dating, holding relationships, or finding a job. 
The report surveyed 855 people who once identified (or currently reside in) Chasidic, Chabad, Yishivish, Modern Orthodox, or other Orthodox communities. Many of these individuals now identify as Off The Derech, or OTD, and go to organized OTD Meetups or are members of OTD social media groups. 
Other important factors cited by respondents included the treatment of women within ultra-religious communities and the widespread perception of contradictions, double standards, and hypocrisy. Contrary to widely held assumptions about those who leave Orthodox Judaism, only 2% of respondents cited the influence of the Internet or weak secular education as significant spurs to leaving .
The report was released by Nishma Research, a marketing firm that specializes in Jewish demographics.
A huge majority — 95% of all respondents — still view themselves as Jewish. Two-thirds now identify as either “traditional,” culturally or humanist Jewish, or, simply, “just Jewish.” Only 21% identify now with a mainstream denomination such as Reform, Conservative, or Chasidic. The Pew Research Center’s “Portrait of American Jews,” by contrast, reported that 70% of American Jews identify with a mainstream denomination.
Mark Trencher, the director of Nishma Research, noted that there was an inverse relationship between level of observance while still a part of Orthodox Judaism and level of observance after leaving.
“It seems that those who started out most stringently to the right — Chasidic Jews, Yidishists — after leaving the community, they retained less of their beliefs and practices than other groups,” he said. 
Acceptance by the respondents’ families, Trencher said, also started out lower in the most religious groups.
“But it does grow over time. The understanding and acceptance of the families goes up to about half after ten years. That’s in pretty much every group, too.”

The study was a joint effort with Footsteps and Project Makom, two organizations that help facilitate the transition out of Modern and ultra-Orthodox communities. It may be difficult to leave Orthodox Judaism, or simply leave a specific community, if an individual does not know people outside the community, does not have the material means to leave, or does not have sufficient English skills to live on their own.

“The only surprising thing to us was how many people filled it out in a week and a half,” says Lani Santo, the executive director of Footsteps. “It’s great to have quantitative data on things that we as an organization have known qualitatively for some time.”

Read more here.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks. The full survey report, a summary survey report, the survey questionnaire and press release – are all readable and downloadable at http://nishmaresearch.com/social-research.html.

    Our intention has always been to share this publicly and as widely as possible, and so to start a conversation relating to the issues that the survey has raised and revealed. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks. The full survey report, a summary survey report, the survey questionnaire and press release – are all readable and downloadable at http://nishmaresearch.com/social-research.html.

    Our intention has always been to share this publicly and as widely as possible, and so to start a conversation relating to the issues that the survey has raised and revealed. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete