Why Jewish Education?

Throughout their history, the Jewish people have engaged in an ongoing search for purpose and meaning that has led to countless developments which affect the ways in which we live and think. Jewish education enables children and adults alike to continue this conversation, augmenting our perspectives with the wisdom and values of our forebears while advancing their search for purpose and meaning. In order to lead deep and engaging Jewish lives, we must embrace deep and engaging Jewish learning.

In addition, while a firm Jewish education is essential to becoming better Jews, modern research suggests that Jewish education and participation in a Jewish community makes us healthier, happier, and more successful, too.

Religious education provides a measurable advantage in the pursuit of a meaningful, healthy, happy, and successful life.

  1. Health: For years, clinical studies have linked a strong religious identity to lower rates of coronary disease,[i] lower blood pressure,[ii] and longer life expectancy.[iii] More recently, researchers investigating a wide array of psychological disorders—such as depression—have generally found religious involvement to be related to better mental health.[iv]
  2. Happiness: There is also increasing evidence that a strong relationship exists between religious identity and a sense of well-being, including a national study illustrating that adults with strong religious affiliation are nearly twice as likely to report leading “very happy” lives as adults with minimal religious affiliation.[v]
  3. Success: Longitudinal studies teach that that religious identity is related to increased levels of education,[vi] lower rates of crime,[vii] increased civic involvement,[viii] and higher family satisfaction in adults, as well as higher levels of resilience in children.[ix]

In short, religious education provides a measurable advantage in the pursuit of a meaningful, healthy, happy, and successful life. For our children, that advantage begins here at Wise Religious School.

[i] Comstock and Partridge 1972.
[ii] Larson et al. 1989.
[iii] George et al. 2002; Hummer et al. 1999; Idler and Kasl 1997; Koenig 1997; Larson et al. 1997; Litwin 2007; Plante and Sherman 2001; Seybold and Hill 2001.
[iv] Hackney and Sanders 2003; Kendler et al. 2003; Larson et al. 1992; Smith et al. 2003.
[v] Myers 2000.
[vi] Gruber, J. 2005.
[vii] Baier and Wright, 2001.
[viii] Putnam 2000; Ruiter and De Graaf 2006.
[ix] Mahoney et al. 2001

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Comstock, G. W., & Partridge, K. B. (1972). Church attendance and health. Journal of Chronic Diseases, 25, 665–672.
George, L. K., Ellison, C. G., & Larson, D. B. (2002). Explaining the relationship between religious involvements and health. Psychological Inquiry, 13(3), 190–200.
Gruber, J. (2005). Religious market structure, religious participation, and outcomes: Is religion good for you? NBER working paper.
Hackney, C. H., & Sanders, G. S. (2003). Religiosity and mental health: A meta-analysis of recent studies. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42(1), 43–55.
Hummer, R. A., Rogers, R. G., Nam, C. B., & Ellison, C. G. (1999). Religious involvement and US adult mortality. Demography, 36(2), 273–285.
Idler, E. L., & Kasl, S. V. (1997). Religion among disabled and nondisabled persons II: Attendance at religious services as a predictor of the course of disability. The Journals of Gerontology, 52B(6), S306– S316.
Kendler, K. S., Liu, X.-Q., Gardner, C. O., McCullough, M. E., Larson, D., & Prescott, C. A. (2003). Dimensions of religiosity and their relationship to lifetime psychiatric and substance use disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(3), 496–503.
Koenig, H. G. (1997). Is religion good for your health? Effects of religion on mental and physical health. New York: Haworth Press.
Larson, D. B., Koenig, H. G., Kaplan, B. H., Greenberg, R. S., Logue, E., & Tyroler, H. A. (1989). The impact of religion on men’s blood pressure. Journal of Religion and Health, 28(4), 265–278.
Larson, D. B., Sherrill, K. A., Lyons, J. S., Craigie, F. C., Thielman, S. B., Greenwold, M. A., et al. (1992). Associations between dimensions of religious commitment and mental health reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry and Archives of General Psychiatry: 1978–1989. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 149(4), 557–559.
Larson, D. B., Swyers, J. P., & McCullough, M. E. (1997). Scientific research on spirituality and health: A consensus report. Rockville, MD: National Institute for Healthcare Research.
Litwin, H. (2007). What really matters in the social network-mortality association? A multivariate examination among older Jewish-Israelis. European Journal of Ageing, 4, 71–82.
Mahoney, A., Pargament, K. I., Tarakeshwar, N., & Swank, A. B. (2001). Religion in the home in the 1980 s and 1990 s: A meta-analytic review and conceptual analysis of links between religion, marriage, and parenting. Journal of Family Psychology, 15(4), 559–596.
Myers, D. G. (2000). The funds, friends, and faith of happy people. American Psychologist, 55(1), 56–67.
Plante, T. G., & Sherman, A. C. (Eds.). (2001). Faith and Health: Psychological Perspectives. New York: Guilford Press.
Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Ruiter, S., & De Graaf, N. D. (2006). National context, religiosity, and volunteering: Results from 53 countries. American Sociological Review, 71, 191–210.
Seybold, K. S., & Hill, P. C. (2001). The role of religion and spirituality in mental and physical health. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10(1), 21–24.
Smith, T. B., McCullough, M. E., & Poll, J. (2003). Religiousness and depression: Evidence for a main effect and the moderation influence of stressful life events. Psychological Bulletin, 129(4), 614–636.