Going to Synagogue Is Good for Health and Happiness, Baylor Researcher Finds

  • Happiness and synagogue
    (iStockphoto)
  • Happiness and jews 2
    Researcher Jeff Levin, Ph.D., University Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health at Baylor (Courtesy photo)
June 24, 2013

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WACO, Texas (June 24, 2013) -- Two new Baylor University studies show that Israeli Jewish adults who attend synagogue regularly, pray often, and consider themselves religious are significantly healthier and happier than their non-religious counterparts. They also report greater satisfaction with life.

"These findings nicely reinforce the inherited Jewish folk wisdom that going to shul (synagogue) is 'good for you,'" said Baylor University researcher Jeff Levin, Ph.D.

Levin holds a distinguished chair at Baylor University, where he is University Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health and Director of the Program on Religion and Population Health at the Institute for Studies of Religion.

Commitment to Jewish religious belief and practice is strongly associated with greater physical and psychological well-being, Levin said. One study, published in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, an official journal of the American Psychological Association, used 2010 data on 1,849 Jewish adults from the Israeli sample of the European Social Survey. The other study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, used 2009-10 data on 991 Jewish adults from the Israeli sample of the International Social Survey Programme's Religion III survey.

These new results confirm findings from other studies of Jews in Israel and the U.S. conducted over the past few years. Seven such studies have been published by Levin using data from a variety of national and global surveys. They have consistently identified facets of Jewish religious expression as among the most reliable predictors of measures of physical and mental health and overall well-being.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDIES OF RELIGION

Launched in August 2004, the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) exists to initiate, support and conduct research on religion, involving scholars and projects spanning the intellectual spectrum: history, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, political science, epidemiology, theology and religious studies. The institute's mandate extends to all religions, everywhere, and throughout history, and embraces the study of religious effects on prosocial behavior, family life, population health, economic development and social conflict. While always striving for appropriate scientific objectivity, ISR scholars treat religion with the respect that sacred matters require and deserve.

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