Wednesday, October 06, 2021

A Jewish form of recycling :(

Maybe they belong to an independent minyan or chavurah.

Or maybe they object to the very notion of "belonging." 

In either case, they certainly don't want to become, if you'll pardon the expression, "members" of a "synagogue" and pay "dues."  They'd much rather be "partners" of an "alternative Jewish spiritual community" and pay monthly fees.

And many of them meet in buildings paid for by others, "recycling" the hard work of one or more previous generations.  They just pay rent.  They don't worry about building maintenance, security, payroll, utilities.  

And then the synagogue that owns the building goes out of business, and suddenly they have no place to meet.

What a surprise.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok boomer. What a snide approach to a real problem. You don't want to understand their point of view, you just dismiss it.

Thu Oct 07, 11:15:00 AM 2021  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Guilty as charged. It's just hard to forget the old "Al tishlichenu l'eit zikna" ("Do not cast us off in old age") so soon after we read it in our High-Holiday prayer-books.

In our neighborhood, there are three congregations--one Orthodox, one Conservative (ours), and one Reform--but none of us can attract newer and/or younger members. The Reform shul had been attracting a nice crowd to its Friday-night service-and-supper get-togethers, but then an "alternative community" moved within walking distance, and within 2-3 years, most of the Reform congregation was gone. I understand that many young people are strapped for cash, but we can't make our dues any lower because we're barely able to cover our bills as it is. We can't offer day-care because our building doesn't meet the legal requirements for a facility working with very young children. And the cost of hiring a Hebrew-School teacher is prohibitive. It's a classic financial problem--you can't offer programs without money, and you can't raise money without offering programs.

Thu Oct 07, 08:11:00 PM 2021  
Blogger David Staum said...

I understand your frustration that they're not joining, but I also deeply enjoy the "independent minyan" feeling. My wife and I met at such a minyan 20 years ago, so they're not new. (Ours met in a youth hostel, so we weren't competing with a shul in their same building). But as for the financial aspect, if the minyan-goers are paying monthly dues and the minyan is paying rent, how is that unfair? Everyone's paying their fair share.

But I do understand that it can be hurtful (and somewhat age-ist) when you can have older members having a hard time getting a minyan in the main sanctuary and a room rented downstairs with plenty of young people.

Fri Oct 08, 09:03:00 AM 2021  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

David, the minyan-goers' monthly dues would go to the minyan, not to the synagogue, and not all synagogue-based minyanim require their members to be members of the synagogue. So the question is whether or not the rent would actually cover as much of the synagogue's expenses as membership in the synagogue would cover.

As for ageism, many minyanim seem to be geared specifically to Jews in the 20-40 age range. So whether or not they're housed in a synagogue, they tend to attract most of the younger Jews who might otherwise join a synagogue. As I mentioned, the local alternative Jewish community pretty much wiped out what was an up-and-coming new Reform congregation.

This may simply be the wave of the future, and tough luck for us older folks. The local alternative Jewish community has no building, but what they do have is 10 employees, including a rabbi, a music director, a program director, an education director, a development associate, four educators for its Saturday education program for children, and a "rabbinic intern." (Oddly enough, the so-called rabbinic intern doesn't seem to be enrolled in rabbinical school. Perhaps on-the-job training is also the wave of the future--I can't tell you how many Jewish singers are also baalei/baalot tefillah/prayer leaders without benefit of a cantorial-school education.) Our synagogue has a cantor, a financial record-keeper, a grant specialist, and four maintenance workers. I suppose it could be argued that the alternative group is investing its limited funds in more constructive ways than maintaining a building.

Sun Oct 10, 02:53:00 PM 2021  

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