Ha’aretz reports about a survey by Professor Howard Litwin of the Israel Gerontological Data Center published in The European Journal of Aging which found that attending synagogue extends longevity.
In 1997, 5,000 Israeli men and women aged 60 and older were interviewed with a follow up by Prof. Litwin’s group in 2004 of 1811 of the individuals. Of these, 38 percent had passed away and those still alive were questioned about their lifestyle.
The researchers learned that low income and depression contribute to a shorter life expectancy.
These findings are not surprising,” said Litwin, “but we did find two other unique variables that influence survival: the frequency of communication with friends and the frequency of synagogue attendance. Those who attended synagogue regularly clearly had the highest rate of survival.”
…One explanation is spiritual, that is, the individual faith factor,” he said. “A series of studies that have been conducted in recent years, especially in the United States, argue that faith helps people deal with psychological pressure. People who believe and pray apparently survive longer.
“Another explanation is the connection between attending synagogue and belonging to a supportive community.”
Litwin said that in late old age decreased social activity is a common problem. “A person who goes to synagogue has a function: He is called to the Torah, and he has a network of social ties in the community.”
Litwin also suggests that Orthodox Jews have to walk to shul on Shabbat which improves their health but the bottom line seems to be that beyond socialization, attending synagogue and becoming a part of a larger community assists in living longer.