Chabad Statistics: Let’s Examine the Estimates #ChabadSociology #ChabadStatistics


Let’s revisit a previous post on Chabad statistics.

I’ve pointed out that the figures posted on and elsewhere does not appear to be based on any actual survey or poll, it’s all just a hunch.

But let’s examine this a little closer. What have the authors of the Chabad Wikipedia article found for us?

Here’s what they wrote:

“The movement has over 200,000 adherents,[13][14][15][16] and up to one million Jews attend Chabad services at least once a year.[17][18] .”

Here are their sources:

13. The perfect matzo a matter of timing, Associated Press April. 12, 2006
14. “Wertheimer, Jack. A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America. New York: Basic Books (A Division of Harper Collins) (1993); pg. xiv–xv”. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
15. Occhiogrosso, Peter. The Joy of Sects: A Spirited Guide to the World’s Religious Traditions. New York: Doubleday (1996), Chapter: Judaism; pg. 250.
16. Andryszewski, Tricia. Communities of the Faithful: American Religious Movements Outside the Mainstream. Bookfield, Connecticut: Millbrook Press (1997); pg. 95.
17.Slater, Elinor and Robert, Great Jewish Men, Jonathan David Publishers 1996 (ISBN 08246 03818). Page 279.
18.Sharon Chisvin (5 August 2007). “Chabad Lubavitch centre set for River Heights area”. Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.

For starters,  Associated Press (note 13) and Winnipeg Free Press (note 18) are both news sites, so you are relying on the reporter’s estimate. Not exactly scientific. In fact, the Winnipeg article claims there are over a million Lubavitchers globally, again with no source.

The source in note 14 actually points out to the lack of quantitative evidence. Here’s what the author actually wrote.

“The magazine of the New York Times ran a celebratory cover story of the Lubavitcher rebbe… Without adducing any quantitative evidence, the article claimed that the rebbe was “lionized by his nearly 200,000 followers” and declared his movement “a missionary juggernaut”. “

The sources in notes 15 and 16 state the 200,000 claim without providing sources And note 17 is a compilation of biographical sketches of “Great Jewish Men”, not the greatest primary source for Chabad demography.

What’s the bottom line here? There does not seem to be any serious demographic estimate of Chabad-Lubavitch.


Don’t Go Away!!! Stanford Scholar Asks to Collect Online Orthodox Material #ChabadSociology #OnlineResearch

Searching Chabad-Lubavitch on Google Scholar

Heidi Lerner, a Judaica cataloguer at Stanford University, has highlighted the scholarly value of preserving Jewish Orthodx materials being posted online.

“The research value of these materials to the study of Orthodox Judaism is quite considerable. Scholars have acknowledged the importance of  institutional collections of physical ephemera, notably the National Library of Israel (the new official name of the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem); the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s broadside, poster, and “pashkevilim” (public wall posters used for communication in Haredi society) collections; and Harvard College Library Judaica Division’s collection of audio and videotaped sermons. The increasing concentration of such materials on the Web will necessitate new efforts at preservation.”

But doing that is not easy, as Lerner notes.

“The transient nature of these online sources and the difficulties in finding them are ongoing areas of concern that researchers and scholars need to address. There have been many third-party attempts to organize them on portals, individuals’ collections of links, scholars’ Web pages, etc. However, these do not provide systematic indexing or archiving, or any guarantee of longevity.”

I have seen a few attempts to try to organize Chabad-related resources, and I hope that they don’t just disappear…

Read more of Lerner’s article here.


Lerner, Heidi. Researching Orthodox Judaism Online. AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies. Association for Jewish Studies (AJS). Spring 2008: 36-38

Campus Shabbat Experience @ Chabad – Sociologists Research & Make Recommendations #ChabadSociology #ChabadonCampus

Jewish Sociologists collaborating with the Chabad on Campus International Foundation examined the phenomenon of Shabbat dinner events held on American college campuses by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

The researchers identified factors which make the program so successful, and make recommendations for how other Jewish programs can tap into the needs and desires that motivate young American Jewish college students to attend these events.

Chabad Mizou
Photo by MendyDesign

Their recommendations to Chabad were for them to:

1. Expand its work in this area.

2. Continue its willingness to think “out of the box.”

3. Expand the kinds of educators it has engaged in this work and increase the educational training of Chabad rabbis so that they can incorporate more pedagogic tools in their repertoires.

4. Take unique ideas that have chemistry and enable them to grow without turning them into routine.

You can view the full report here.


Cohen, Steven M. Chazan, Barry. Reimer, Joseph. Bryfman, David. Home Away From Home — A Research Study of the Shabbos Experience on Five University Campuses: An Informal Educational Model for Working with Young Jewish Adults. Chabad on Campus International Foundation. August 2006: