Chabad Synagogues Increase in MetroWest NJ #ChabadSociology #ChabadStatistics

MetroW NJThe 2012 MetroWest Jewish Population Update Study“, conducted by Ira Sheskin, updated the information from the 1998 MetroWest Jewish Population Study.

The study surveyed Jewish life in Essex, Morris, Sussex and northern Union Counties in the state of New Jersey.

Presented in the study’s report was the number of synagogues and affiliated households.

Chabad-affiliated synagogues were not specifically highlighted in the findings but were grouped within the Orthodox synagogue count.

After examining the report, it became clear that roughly half of the Orthodox synagogues are in fact Chabad. This was also true for the nuber of affliated households. See table below.

Synagogues 1998 Household Count 2008 Household Count 2012 Household Count
All Orthodox 33 1,031 3,217 3,378
Chabad 16 61 1,402 1,558
Chabad Percentage 48% 6% 44% 46%


And when comparing Chabad to all synagogues in that area, Chabad appears to make up 20% of all synagogues, but only 8% of affiliated households. See table below.

Synagogues 1998 Household Count 2008 Household Count 2012 Household Count
All Denominations 82 12,108 19,247 18,781
Chabad 16 61 1,402 1,558
Chabad Percentage 20% 1% 7% 8%


Methodology Note: We’ve identified this list of Chabad synagogues by a) having “Chabad” (or “Lubavitch”) in it’s name, and b) by visiting the synagogue website (e.g. on the “about” page). The other Orthodox synagogues either identified as “Modern Orthodox” or gave no indication as to being affiliated with Chabad.

Below is a complete list of Chabad synagogue totals, as listed in the report.

Synagogue City County 1998 2008 2012 2008-2012
Bris Avrohom/Congregation Shomrei Torah
Ohel Yosef Yitzchok
Hillside Union NA NA NA NA
Chabad at Short Hills/Ahavat Torah Short Hills Essex NA NA NA NA
Chabad Center of Northwest New Jersey Rockaway Morris NA 250 250 0
Chabad Jewish Center in Basking Ridge/
Chabad of Somerset, Hunterdon & Union
Basking Ridge Somerset NA 75 150 75
Chabad of Montville Township Montville Morris 0 50 75 25
Chabad of Mountain Lake-Boonton
Denville Morris NA 30 30 0
Chabad of Northwest NJ-Western Region Flanders Morris NA 50 50 0
Chabad of Randolph Randolph Morris 0 60 40 -20
Chabad of Sussex County Sparta Sussex 0 70 100 30
Chabad of Union County Fanwood Union 0 15 30 15
Chai Center of Millburn/Short Hills Short Hills Essex NA 80 90 10
Congregation Levi Yitzchok/
Rabbinical College of America
Morristown Morris NA 100 100 0
Congregation Shaya Ahavat Torah/
Chabad Center of SE Morris County
Parsippany Morris 25 35 30 -5
Lubavitch Center Shul West Orange Essex 36 52 68 16
Maplewood Jewish Center / Congregation
Beth Ephraim
Maplewood Essex NA 35 45 10
Union County Torah Center Westfield Union NA 500 500 0
Total: 16 61 1402 1558 156


General Note: Many synagogues were unable to provide estimates for 1998 membership. Changes reflect only those synagogues for which 2008 and 2012 information is available. Italicized numbers are used to indicate reasonable estimates where data are not available.


Sheskin, Ira M. (2013). The 2012 MetroWest Jewish Population Update Study. Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.


Jewish Holidays Fight for Rank

In studies on Jewish identity in the United States during the 1960s, Jewish sociologists discovered that American Jews were becoming rather selective in which holidays they celebrated and which rituals they observed. (see for example Marshall Sklare’s “Lakeville study”)* Fast forward to 2013 and the digital age; you can instantly look at the trending search term use of various Jewish holidays and learn a lot about how America’s Jews are celebrating Jewish holidays.Holidays

What’s your favorite Jewish holiday? Oh, wait. Don’t tell me. I’ll tell you!

– A Google Trend Geek

Take a look at the image above (if you want a better look, try the link here). It displays the Google Trends data for the top 5 Jewish holidays (that is, in their most popular spellings in Google). What first jumps out at you is that the search terms sharply rise and fall over time. And this means that people tend to search these keywords only around the time of that holiday. That much is obvious. But what about ranking? Which holiday scores highest on Google Trends? And the winner is… Passover?!?!?! The holiday celebrating the Jewish People’s liberation from Egypt beats Hanukkah at the rate of 1.6 to 1. Does that mean American Jews choose digging into their matza and marror over receiving presents and gelt from granny? Or perhaps the appeal is “the four questions” (after all, who doesn’t like asking questions, even those you’ve heard a dozen times before)?

Well, in short, this Google Trend means that Passover is more widely searched, but does not necessarily celebrated. This may become obvious when we think about the concerns surrounding the holiday of Passover. What are Google users around Passover time?How about “how do I celebrate Passover?”, “where can I find a Passover Seder?”. In comparison to the Passover Seder,  the lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah (& it’s blessings and other details) is a walk in the park.

Either way, these results are interesting to explore, especially if one compares keyword use in various states, and the search trends for different holidays per state. For example, in Montana, Rosh Hashanah does not show up at all as trending, while Yom Kippur does.

There’s so much to explore. Check it out sometime. Happy Trending!

*Learn more about Marshall Sklare, the “founding father of Jewish Sociology” at

P.S. Happy Birthday, Franz Kafka!!!

Franz Kafka was born July 3, 1883. He would be 130 years old today.

Franz Kafka’s writings, notably The Trial and The Castle, have much to tell us about sociological concepts such as Max Weber’s “iron cage” and bureaucratic forms of organization, according to University of Minnesota’s Professor Joachim Savelsberg.

According to Savelsberg, “social scientists use fiction as a source of illustrations for sociological arguments; as empirical evidence… where solid social scientific evidence is missing; finally, as an analytical description and interpretation of social conditions”.

In short, Kafka’s stories illustrate the tension people in the U.S feel or associate with interacting with the DMV. Government systems and procedures can sometimes feel like an “iron cage” (borrowing Max Weber’s term describing the rational nature of modern social forms), devoid of personal meaning.

References: Web Search interest: rosh hashanah, yom kippur, hanukkah, purim, passover. United States, 2004 – present. Google Trends. (n.d.). Retrieved on June 30, 2013.

Savelsberg Joachim J. “Franz Kafka: Bureaucracy, Law, and Abuses of the Iron Cage”. Edling, Christofer, and Jens Rydgren, (eds). Sociological insights of great thinkers: sociology through literature, philosophy, and science. ABC-CLIO, (2011): 45-53.

Sklare, Marshall, Joseph Greenblum, and Benjamin Bernard Ringer. Not Quite at Home: How an American Jewish Community Lives with Itself and Its Neighbors. No. 11. Institute of Human Relations Press, American Jewish Committee, 1969.

Take it to the Next Level!!! Chabad as Google Trend (Part 2)

Yeah, it’s that sort of thing. Driving at breakneck speed; pedal to the medal. All that kind craze. The whole Chabad as a Google Trend got me thinking. “Chabad” and “Lubavitch” can’t be the only search terms to measure. How do people in Russia or Thailand search for Chabad? What about Hebrew speakers?

Google Trends is an interesting tool. It won’t give you actual search counts, only “popularity”. They’ve created a metric that is a little confusing to the first-time user. So before we start making absolute statements about Chabad as a Google Trend, it would be essential to link their explanatory post. But enough of that for now.

My earlier post compared “Chabad” and “Lubavitch” as keywords on Google Trends. The results were for the U.S. only (standard practice in sociology of American Jewry). This time I’ve included the five most popular Chabad-type search terms: “חבד” (Hebrew), “Chabad”, “Lubavitch”, “Habad” (alternative spelling) & “Jabad” (Spanish). Check out what we’ve got in the picture below!


Oh, and if you check it out on Google Trends, you will see that the different terms are popular in different regions. For example, “Jabad” ranks highest in Argentina and “Habad” scores in France.

References: “Web Search interest: חבד, chabad, lubavitch, habad, jabad. Worldwide, 2004 – present”. Google Trends. (n.d). Last retrieved July 2, 2013.