Sunday, January 31, 2010

Frozen out

As with the Shabbat/Sabbath a few weeks ago when the morning temperature was below 20 degrees Fahrenheit/-6.7 Celsius, most of our seniors stayed home yesterday, and, again, we had fewer than 20 congregants present by the end of the service. Though our Sabbath morning service is scheduled to start at 9 AM, we didn't even get a minyan until about 10:15 AM, despite the fact that our congregation counts women as part of a minyan. Apparently, this is the wave of the future: We can expect an empty sanctuary whenever there's bad weather.

But it wasn't only our congregants who were frozen out, it was also the rabbi--his contract was not renewed. We'll be on our own before the Yamim Noraim/High Holidays. Wish us luck.


Blogger G-Girl! said...

I find it sad when the congregants do not make an effort to attend services, at my synagogue we have a similar problem. The only difference here is that they cannot even blame it on the weather. We always count ourselves lucky to have a Minyan on Shabbat mornings. Sad indeed.

Sun Jan 31, 11:20:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

I wish you luck with getting a rabbi. I hope he's an improvement over the one you have now.

Mon Feb 01, 10:43:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Thanks, but I'm afraid we need luck figuring out how to manage *without* a rabbi. We're so broke that, even if Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our Teacher) came down from Har Sinai and offered his leadership services, we couldn't hire him.

Mon Feb 01, 12:12:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Carla, sorry I passed you over, temporarily. It really is sad that we can barely get a minyan on a Shabbat/Sabbath, much less on a weekday. I don't particularly enjoy having to get on a subway and leave the neighborhood every weekday morning to go to a synagogue that gets a minyan, so that I can say Kaddish for my mother.

Best of luck with getting a minyan in your shul.

Mon Feb 01, 12:17:00 PM 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gabbai of the Orthodox shul accross the street from me proudly announced after the most recent snow-storm, that although the congregation has at times not been able to make a minyan on weekdays, they have never in their history failed to make a Shabbos minyan (and that means all three daily services) due to bad weather. This once again shows the flaws in the conservative approach to allowing driving on Shabbat. If people drive and live so far away from shul, it becomes dangerous to drive there in bad weather. If you live within walking distance, unless it is the storm of the century, you can bundle up, give yourself extra time, and walk carefully over in the snow.

Mon Feb 01, 04:52:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Anon, your point is well taken. However, in the case of this particular synagogue, all of our "regulars" live within walking distance, though, on special occasions such as birthday or anniversary kiddushim, we do get attendees who arrive by car. The problem is that most of our congregants are over 80, and not all of them are in good enough health to brave the elements.

Mon Feb 01, 06:31:00 PM 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The conservative movement needs to analyze the causes that this movement that was once considered the wave of the future is now mostly old people and most (but admitidly not all) Orthdox shuls are full of young people. Back when I was conservative and asked a C rabbi about this, I was told that the only reason is that the O have too many children, which clearly is not the only reason.

Tue Feb 02, 09:16:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Anon, you might find this explanation of Conservative Jewish practice by a couple of my commenters interesting reading.

Tue Feb 02, 11:10:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

If you read the post linked above, you may have read the comment by B.BarNavi referring to Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan. I think that what I said in response to a comment to this recent post of mine might be of some relevance to the question of why Conservative Judaism is losing members:

"Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan's idea that Judaism is an evolving religious civilization was, and is, a good one. But, unfortunately, some Jews tend to emphasize the "civilization" part to the detriment of the "religious" part. It seems to me that many "cultural" Jews simply don't understand how much of Jewish culture is based on the Jewish religion. Take away the religion and the culture disappears. Just ask my old friend the Shalom Aleichem Shule graduate, raised as a Secular Yiddishist. He became so convinced that secular Yiddish culture would not survive beyond our generation that he sent his kids to a Jewish day school to ensure that they would learn Hebrew, not Yiddish, and would know how to davven/pray."

Once a synagogue becomes more of a social scene than a place to pray and/or study, that synagogue is in trouble, in my opinion. Kaplan's idea of a "Jewish Center" was brilliant in its time, a time when Jews were often excluded from social establishments. But the good old "shul with a pool" simply doesn't work in an era in which one can just as easily join a gym.

Tue Feb 02, 11:39:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Maya Resnikoff said...

I of course don't know the details of your shul's financial situation, or the sort of leadership that they're looking for- but rabbinical students can be hired for either just the high holidays or for a monthly or alternating weekends type position. And being so close to Manhattan, transportation would be a minimal expense. At JTS, I imagine the place to contact would be the RSPS- rabbinical school placement service.

Just an idea (and a little selfish, it being my school and my classmates).

Wed Feb 24, 08:36:00 AM 2010  

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