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.

Sorry Muffti.

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35 Comments

  • A recent study in study in San Francisco had the same conclusion. So the fountain of youth is really shnaps and herring every morning!

  • shapps and herring???? Not in any synagogue I attend with any frequency. You know there are Jews beyond the ashkenazic variety. In our Moroccan shul, people tend to live a long time unless someone orders a hit on you.

  • Muffti is soooooooooo scared…in any case, a poll he did suggested that atheists live less deluded lives, even if shorter, so it all comes out in the wash.

  • (This Tiff is very smart. Her name must be Tifferet which means Beauty. What a great name. That’s Kaballah, not Kant. Much nicer, and no more imaginery. Most philosophy is nonsense, but don’t tell anybody. Plato is the worst – mere depression masquerading as profundity. He probably didn’t know any better. Democritus should have won the debate with Plato. If you are going to bat the breeze, it might as well be about chassidism! Oh, and Chassidism is essential for contemplating the Quantum layer in physics. If Einstein had had a dose of Chassidism, and hadn’t been so Mitnagdish, he would have had an easier time with the Quantum layer, which gave him the willies. But it’s time for an ice cream.)

  • And another thing– don’t shortened lives end at the part when you’re old and decrepit, and are not years cut from the good middle part?

    I know, wisdom, age, blah blah. As long as you feel good, that is.

    Is longevity overrated?

  • Tifferet must be the Hebrew for Tiffany.

    Tifferet may be your real name, so to speak, but how should I know. Ask CK.

    At least you’re not named Kant. Did you ever get sefardi cookbooks at Alibris?

  • huh? Nope, my hebrew name is not Tifferet…If I had a 10 year old daughter…hmmm…that would be gross. 16 year old should not have babies. unless they umm really want to. I guess. maybe.

  • Girls outgrow Barbie and Brats by 8, but in the meanwhile leaving those dolls around the house can lead to lustful thoughts in the Jewish boys and men of the family.

    Just look what the slut of a doll is up to now…mixed dancing with Ken!

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=KKn7Qz0wZRg

    I think shiksa Barbie is after that nice Jewish Kenneth Mattel, a Doctor. Soon she will want to marry him, live in a dream house and have a little shiksa babies dolls without an Orthodox conversion.

  • Mufti – The studies show that starting to attend shul late in life also works. So have hope.

    CK- sorry, its just my polish bias. I am sure whatever they eat with the arak at your shul serves you very well.

  • I suggest an intercultural dish of pita stuffed with salad, chopped herring and fried matza balls. Some would call it yucky, others would call it fusion cuisine.

  • Have they done a study on how walking to shul on the Sabbath in the middle of a street which has sidewalks to show off that you are above the traffic laws established by the secular government of the State of New Jersey can increase the risk of dying by being hit by a car.

    Nah, they only do the study on how riding in a taxi on the Sabbath can increase your risk of dying in a car accident .

    Gotta love those unbiased academic studies!

  • And some good Nepalese food. But only if freshly made and preceded by a wonderful mango Lassi.

  • Attending religious services doesn´t make your life longer, it just feels that way.

  • Well jc, you’re kinda right. For a number of reasons. First, given the state of Jewish literacy, it’s no wonder synagogue services seem dull – especially if one has no idea what is being said or what the hell is going on. Secondly, even if you know how read and follow a prayer book, services in many synagogues are just not compelling, between your neighbors talking and the Rabbi’s boring speeches and the super quick pace and the uninteresting tunes, of course one could not be blamed for tuning out. But there’s a minyan for everyone. I suggest learning how to use a siddur – there are many with translations, and finding a good fun minyan. The funnest ashkenazic minyan I know is at the ghetto shul in Montreal – come for the Carlebach inflected tunes, stay for the Friday night dinner and the babes. Or do what I do and pray in a Moroccan minyan – that is ALWAYS fun.

    Or you could stay at home and play video games and watch yet another Will and Grace rerun. It’s your call.

  • CK, great post.

    I like a good, wild, Chabad hottenany, with lots of clapping and hollering, and dancing madly with my sistahs. We all dress up pretty too.

  • He didn’t mention guilt once or even imply it. He was talking about fun.

    He’s right.

    I remember going from locked shul to locked shul, when I first became interested, rattling the locked doors, and wondering why they weren’t open all the time, like churches.

    That was annoying.

  • Suggesting staying at home watching video games (which translates as: nerdy without friends) and watching Will and Grace re-runs (which translates as: feigeleh without friends) as opposed to finding a minyan that suits you does not qualify as a guilty conscience tool? Suppose I need a new dictionary: ck – Sarah / Sarah – ck.

  • No, that’s not about guilt.

    Being nerdy is not immoral. Being lonely is not immoral either. Where’s the guilt? And, he didn’t say, or imply, a person would necessarily be alone doing those things.

    But CK is observant and it is well known that observant or orthodox people are very judgmental. Maybe they are sometimes, depending who, but CK?

  • I’ll wait for the dictionary to come out. The only few observant Sefardim that I know are very sweet, open-minded and welcoming.

  • Oh my. Dudes… I am SO not the poster boy for Orthodoxy. Not by a long shot. I am not at all pious and this blog thing… lets not even go there.

    But I am very sweet, very open-minded and welcoming. So you all got that right.

  • ck, besides the literacy thing, may I say a good cantor can make all the difference.

  • You can’t do with him, and you can’t do without him 😉

    There’s a reason why I put up pics of stuff I’d baked on my blog; my experience from tough staff meetings tells that people are way easier to handle under the influence of carbohydrates and caffeine.

  • Why doesn’t Professor Litwin conclude that those Jews who did not attend synagogue regularly, and had a higher death rate than their opposites, may be suffering the higher death rate because of chronic disabilities that kept them at home, and preventing them from going to the synagogue?
    I think his conclusion that going to synagogue helped people live longer is utterly tendentious, and ignores the obvious
    truth that the group attending synagogue is a self-selected one, physically and mentally capable of doing so.
    A beautiful example of placing the cart before the horse!

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