What if we put belonging at the heart of Jewish communal life?

This is The Belonging Project – a cutting-edge initiative that merges scientific research, relational best practices, and ancient Jewish wisdom.



In the spring of 2022, Clal joined with the Springtide Research Institute to pilot a survey of belongingness in seven synagogues across the U.S. and Canada. Then, we created a custom report of their belonging scores and action recommendations. The aggregate study includes 1,100 respondents, and it is the very first scientifically-based, quantitative study of belonging in the Jewish community.

Notable Findings:
  • When congregants feel they belong, they contribute more of their time, money, and support. For example, high belonging congregants were over 12 times more likely to donate money and 3.5 times more likely to recommend the synagogue to others.
  • One-on-one connections and small groups produced a much greater sense of belonging; virtual programming scored lowest.
  • Each congregation has a unique fingerprint of strengths and weaknesses when it comes to creating belonging among congregants.


Humans are hard-wired to thrive when we are in mutually supportive communities. Over the last several decades in North America, though, the ties that bind neighbor to neighbor have weakened, if not snapped completely. We have lost a sense of place, a sense of home, a sense of belonging. We are lonelier than ever before, to the detriment of our physical, mental, and civic health. 

Faith communities are uniquely positioned to address this loneliness epidemic. These communities value deep connection, caring, and mutual support. However, we don’t always design our events, programs, staffing, services, and structures to maximize belonging.

Bring Belonging to Your Community

Since the pilot, over 25 more congregations throughout the US and Canada have undertaken the Belonging Project’s offerings, including the Belonging Index survey, training workshops for lay leaders and staff, and customized coaching and consulting. Jewish community institutions of all kinds can maximize belonging. Clal offers a variety of ways to bring The Belonging Project to your community, including:

Belonging 101 Workshop

A 1.5 hour introductory, online workshop. This is for congregations and Jewish institutions beginning to focus on building a community of belonging, as well as leaders who want to spark interest in the idea of designing for belonging.

Belonging Index

A survey measuring how belonging works in your synagogue community.  This is for congregations that want to better understand their current belonging strengths and weaknesses and to receive customized, data-based recommendations for action steps.

Half-Day Leadership Retreat

This is for congregations and Jewish institutions seeking guiding principles of designing for belonging and connection among congregants, as well as opportunities for brainstorming and reflection as a leadership team.

Congregational Leadership Cohort

A first-of-its-kind sociological report with the Springtide Research Institute on belonging in synagogues


Kick off your community’s belonging work by bringing in a Clal faculty member to teach about belonging in Jewish community

  • When you are a large synagogue, it is easy to either assume that everyone feels connected, or to assume that nobody does. We can experiment with all sorts of programming, relationship building, and other tactics, but without data, those things are akin to throwing spaghetti at the wall, however well intentioned.  Working with CLAL and Springtide Research has provided us with actual feedback and, even better, the targeted areas where we can focus on building our sense of belonging among our 2700 families.  This opportunity has taken us from guessing to knowing, an invaluable gift indeed.
    — Jodi Berman, Associate Executive Director, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Los Angeles, CA
  • Participating in Clal’s Belonging Project and learning from Rabbi Appel is helping our leadership team develop a strategy for moving from being a place where people “join” and may feel “welcome” to being a place where our congregants are “comfortable” and feel they “belong.” Based on the survey and the follow up presentations, we recognize that there are places and programs already in place where we can deepen our relationships and connections organically and intentionally and that we can create more such opportunities.  We are grateful to the insights and the tools Clal provided us.
    — Judy Zeprun Kalman, President, Congregation B’nai Shalom, Westborough, MA