Shabbat x Social Connection Research

Does Shabbat Dinner as a Spiritual Practice Increase Social Connectedness?

A new research project supported by Templeton World Charity Foundation will explore the impact of Shabbat dinner as a spiritual exercise to promote flourishing. The project, led by CASJE (Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education) at George Washington University, is a partnership with OneTable, a national nonprofit that empowers young adults to find, share, and enjoy Shabbat dinners. The research is also supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation and the BeWell Initiative at Jewish Federations of North America. CASJE Managing Director Arielle Levites, Ph.D., leads the research team.

The study’s focus on social connection honors the collectivist nature of Judaism, seeking to understand how Jewish practice can promote not only individual but also, group flourishing.

The study’s key findings will be shared widely when completed in 2025, particularly with mental health and community-engagement oriented organizations, leaders of interfaith organizations, and leaders of civic organizations that build connections across neighborhoods and cities.

We invite you to participate in this research project to help us test our hypothesis around human flourishing through Shabbat dinner. Please submit your name + email here to show your interest in participating in the study.

To ensure participant privacy, OneTable’sDirector of Impact + Learning, Julia Logan Labow, who is also a member of the research team at George Washington University, will have sole access to your contact information. If you complete the form, you can expect to hear from Julia when formal recruitment begins. Your information (name and email) will be used to contact you when the study recruitment formally launches and then will be deleted. Requesting to be contacted with more information will not commit you to participate in the study, email Julia Logan Labow, Director, Impact + Learning, with questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is this study about?

This study is about Shabbat dinner and well-being.

It’s an experiment, which means people who choose to participate will be randomly assigned to be part of a gathering that offers a variation on a typical OneTable Shabbat dinner.

Why is OneTable involved in this study?

At OneTable we care deeply about the well-being of our community. We want to understand how the work we do of making Shabbat dinner accessible to more people may or may not make a difference in everyday lives. This study will help us better understand how Shabbat dinner matters in your life. We will use what we learn to improve our program, and share our learning with other Jewish, interfaith, and civic groups that care about building community.

Who else is involved in this study and part of the research team?

The study is a partnership between CASJE at George Washington University and OneTable.

The research team is led by Dr Arielle Levites at George Washington University. GW affiliated team members include Dr. Jordan Lawson and Naomi Gamoran. Julia Logan, Pammie Shapiro, and Anne Prusky, who are employees of OneTable, are also affiliates of George Washington University and are conducting research on behalf of the University.

Additionally, Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad (BYU) and Dr Adam Cohen (ASU), Dr Gage Gorsky (Stanford) and Dr. Hollen Reischer (University of Buffalo) are part of the research team but will not have access to any identifying data about you.

In the News

Aliza Kline
President and CEO of OneTable

“What if Shabbat offers a framework to help all humans flourish? What if the main components of Shabbat dinner – gathering over food, shared reflection, and marking sacred time – can help everyone increase social connections and decrease feelings of loneliness?”

Dr. Arielle Levites
CASJE Managing Director

“There’s a national epidemic of loneliness, there’s deep political divisiveness, there’s a real fraying of society and social connectedness. Shabbat dinner, in particular, is often used by Jewish communities as a tool for fostering connection and community. Now we have an opportunity to use empirical data to test this hypothesis. Social connection is a fundamental, universal human need. By deepening our understanding of the Shabbat dinner experience and its potential effects, we hope to reveal new ways to promote connection among people.”

Read more in the press release.