Rekindling Tradition as Life Partnerships End

By Kathleen E. Jenkins

Synagogue 3000, January 2010

Given the ubiquity of divorce across most religious groups, it is somewhat surprising that sociologists have paid so little attention to how people experience divorce in congregations. Studies that do address the relationship between religion and divorce are largely quantitative, analyzing large samples and concerned with causal relationships. The author argues that the fact that individuals turn to religious communities, especially in times of acute stress, should not be surprising. Life challenges like divorce can bring people closer to their religious communities and practices or chase them away in search of new ones. Using divorce statistics and her own experiences, the author, a sociologist who converted to Judaism and is now divorced, uses in-depth qualitative methods to analyze how people turn to religious practice and community as they end life partnerships. She asks: which rituals and practices are most meaningful? What helps individuals cope with new family arrangements and post-divorce identity construction? How have religious communities responded to the needs of this population? How might religious leaders confront contemporary family issues? In particular, how might synagogues work to help the divorced, and what can Jewish ritual and community mean to those ending life partnerships?

Topic: Congregations and Synagogues, Communal Responsibility, Engagement, Divorce, Family, Synagogues and Congregations

Name of Publication: S3K Report

Volume/Issue: No.8

Funder: Association for the Sociology of Religion , Lilly Endowment

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Genre: Report

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Jenkins, Kathleen E. Rekindling Tradition as Life Partnerships End. S3K Report. Synagogue 3000. January 2010:


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