Thursday, April 01, 2010

The numbers are in--& so's the water :(

Our local Conservative synagogue now has
  • fewer than 60 "single" membership units,
  • fewer than 20 "family" membership units, meaning spouses and/or parent(s) with child(ren), and
  • fewer than 20 associate membership units, meaning mostly people who used to live in the neighborhood and have maintained a limited membership.

The bottom line is that the number of individual members of all ages and categories who currently live within walking distance of the synagogue is probably less than 100.

Last Shabbat/Sabbath morning, we got 18 attendees for services. Yesterday, we got 13. We had to send someone home to fetch their two teenage sons just to have enough people for a minyan and a Torah reading, and when the two teens went on strike thereafter and went back home, we had exactly 10 people left for Musaf/Additional Service. We did not renew the rabbi's contract, which may very well mean that, beginning next fall, many, if not most, of the sermons will be given by the chair of the Ritual Committee, also known as my husband. ("I didn't go to rabbinical school. I didn't even go to day school. And I'm going to be the 'rabbi,' " said my husband, shaking his head with astonishment.) The foolish optimism of our members, who seem to think that this shul can "run on empty" forever, is pure wishful thinking.

And to top it off, there are now three leaks in the sanctuary. :(


Anonymous Too Old to Jewschool Steve said...

While I really enjoy giving the occasional d'var torah when it's my turn, I wouldn't want that as a weekly obligation. Of course, there is no obligation to have a "sermon", and I don't understand why your DH believes that would be necessary.

Thu Apr 01, 11:00:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

One of the reasons why my husband doesn't want to accept any salary, however miniscule, from the congregation is that he doesn't want to feel obligated to "perform" every Shabbat and Yom Tov (Festival). This way, if he wants a "day off" to go davven/pray elsewhere, the congregants won't have any financial justification for protesting his absence (though I'm sure they'll kvetch anyway).

Fri Apr 02, 09:48:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

For the record, I don't think that my Dear Husband considers a sermon obligatory, but I suspect that many of the congregants might think it is. At the very least, the long-time members have made it clear that they expect the synagogue to maintain the same practices that they remember from decades ago, which also accounts, far more than halachah in their eyes, for their continued refusal to give women aliyot.

Fri Apr 02, 09:54:00 AM 2010  
Anonymous Miami Al said...

What I think is somewhat tragic is how common that is. There is nothing wrong with nostalgia and wanting "what you remember," but most of that generation didn't focus on passing it along to their children. So you have a conservative group (in terms of unchanging), but it's a single generation.

Honestly, what modern Conservative Jewish woman would be interesting in a non-egalitarian service? At this point, an entire generation of Conservative Jews group up in an egalitarian movement, with female Rabbis, Canters, etc., none of which is unusual.

For better or for worse, a non-egalitarian Conservative Synagogue is by definition a Shul of old people, and Judaism requires children to be vibrant.

I understand why the retirement communities have Orthodox Shuls, distance, and most of them just use it as a winter home... I do not understand why they have non-Orthodox Shuls in them, if you drive on Shabbat, why would you want to be Shul where there will never be a Bris, Bar Mitzvah, or first Wedding with all the excitement of it?

Sun Apr 04, 12:13:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Just a point of information: My understanding is that Non-Egalitarian Traditional Conservative Judaism is alive and well in Canada.

That said, I don't think I'm the only woman who davvened/prayed in egalitarian synagogues for years and found it upsetting to end up in a traditional Conservative synagogue.

The idea that, if you're going to drive on Shabbat/Sabbath anyway, you might as well go to a synagogue with a mixed-age crowd is an interesting point. I can tell you from personal experience that it's pretty depressing to be a member of a shul that has funeral after funeral and will probably never host a Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration again.

Wed Apr 07, 12:10:00 AM 2010  

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