Understanding How to Better Serve Our Community

As the research institute for Orthodox Judaism in the United States, the OU Center for Communal Research is at the forefront of developing a sophisticated base of knowledge to improve our understanding of contemporary Orthodox life. These insights will help inform the decision-making and programming of the OU as well as the community at large. Topics of study include how Jews learn to live orah observant lives, the various spiritual journeys they take, and the ways in which institutions affect their identities.

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Photo on left: Elisha Penn, Associate Researcher, speaks about his research on the cost of Orthodox lifestyles.
Photo on right: Assistant Director Michelle Shain and Associate Researcher Elisha Penn at the Applied Research Collective Conference, Summer 2019

Upcoming Research Studies

Understanding Orthodoxy in America

A groundbreaking survey of American Orthodox Jews will provide critical insight into the world of today’s American Jewry—including its sociodemographic characteristics, religious and spiritual realities, and political views. The study will help policymakers and practitioners understand the vulnerabilities and vitalities within the Orthodox community, as well as possible intervention points.

Singles, Stigma, and the “Shidduch Crisis”

The Center seeks to examine the structure of the Orthodox marriage market, along with the behaviors and beliefs of those who are part of the Orthodox dating system, to help policy makers, practitioners, and philanthropists make more informed decisions. These actionable insights will also help singles make better decisions about dating, relationships, and marriage in the Orthodox community.

Emerging Adulthood Study

This study will examine the needs, desires, and behaviors of Orthodox young adults in the five years after leaving their parents’ homes, paying special attention to the impact of gap year programs and colleges (Jewish or secular) on their attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs.


One of the signature initiatives of the Center in its first year has been to advance the field’s commitment to participant data privacy and research ethics. As a Torah-committed institution, the Center takes the rights of its research participants as sacred, ensuring the respect afforded to the populations studied. Due to the Center’s leadership, the OU has become the first Jewish nonprofit to engage an institutional review board to provide third-party ethical oversight of all of its research. Further, the Center has prompted a larger conversation among Jewish communal institutions, hosting symposia and publishing a variety of articles on this crucial topic.

financial research
Emily Sigalow, Matt Williams, and Michelle Shain discuss communal research efforts.
OU Advocacy Center