I often hear the argument that living a 'sheltered life' could be considered to be statistically justified i.e. the likelihood of your children 'veering from the correct' path is lower.

By 'sheltered' I mean restricting information/activities that could lead to a child denouncing his/her religion later on in life e.g. someone I know teaches in a girls' school; she is not allowed to mention the word 'pregnancy', the school sticks together (or blacks out) pages on biology/evolution, etc. These may be considered more on the fringe, but examples such as no internet/smartphones and restricted media access may be more prevalent examples.

Although a sheltered lifestyle may not offer the breadth that a parent would want, it could be considered a 'better guarantee' for children, at least for their earlier (or teen) years. Are there grounds for such an argument? Or is it worth the 'risk' of broadly educating children?

I do appreciate that each child should be educated according to his/her capacity and means, however, I am asking whether there are evidence based studies justifying living one way or the other. Or are such lifestyles too dependant on culture, tradition and upbringing to be considered a legitimate choice?

(Can I even venture to ask if there are any statistical studies on this topic?!)

In a nutshell, then: Are there any evidence-based studies pro- or anti-restricting information/activities that could lead to a child denouncing Judaism later on in life?

  • 1
    Is this on topic?
    – Double AA
    Dec 17, 2013 at 1:57
  • @DoubleAA Better?
    – msh210
    Dec 17, 2013 at 3:34

2 Answers 2


Dr. Bentzion Sorotzkin (in several articles and lectures, you can find them at www.drsorotzkin.com and this lecture specifically mentions the point http://www.drsorotzkin.com/audio/EnhancingChildrensResistance.mp3 (aside from being a lecture every Jewish parent should hear)) makes the point that if it were correct that lack of insulation was a significant factor in children leaving the fold, we should find a much bigger problem of "going off the derech" in "Modern Orthodoxy" which is much less sheltered than in more right wing sects of orthodoxy, which he says has been consistently shown to be untrue in studies. (Dr. Sorotzkin was not promoting either "camp.")

This does not actually prove that insulation is meaningless, just that there are bigger issues that seem to render it moot.


You could use the Neturei Karta as an extreme example. Few sects live as sheltered a life as they do; your description of sheltered is way below their standards. They are not even allowed out of their enclaves without permission and a good reason.

According to Wikipedia they were founded in 1935 - and nowadays number 600 families: 400 in Meah Shearim, 100 in Bet Shemesh and 100 in NY and London.

Considering their high birth rate (10 kids is a small family) and how young they get married (18 is the norm), if they started with a Minyan, they should number over 500,000 by now - yet they number about 1/100 of that!

Seems they have a huge dropout rate - since their casualties cannot be caused by wars or MVAs; they don't participate much in those activities.

OTOH: Part of the reason they are so small is that they eject anybody who does not conform 100% to their standards - so they may not be a good study on the ratio between dropout and sheltered.

  • your conclusion is wrong. many of their kids move out of meah shearim/neturei karta areas and still stay ultra orthodox. they go off to places like ramot, neve yaakov, brochfeld
    – ray
    Dec 17, 2013 at 21:02
  • Your answer shows no reason to suggest that the 'drop outs' have left Judaism.
    – bondonk
    Dec 17, 2013 at 23:13
  • @bondonk - correct, from our POV - but that's not how they see it. Dec 18, 2013 at 8:52

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