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All Are Welcome to This Synagogue

I spoke earlier today with Rabbi Joshua Davidson of Congregation Emanu-El on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, which is also Manhattan’s largest Reform synagogue, about the relationship of dues and synagogue membership.

Rabbi Davidson wanted to emphasize that no synagogue he knows of turns people away due to inability to pay, and that furthermore, most synagogues take people at their word and do not require any showing of proof.

My readers know that the Shalomist Movement advocates the establishment of at least one free synagogue in every community, funded by the local Federation or outside philanthropists. But those of you who want to join a synagogue do not have to wait for some day in the future for that to happen, because everyone can find a synagogue now that will be eager to have you join for a nominal fee if that is all that you can afford.

And what many people do not know is that synagogues are eager to have you!

While the attraction of institutional religions in general is in decline in America today, synagogues still play an important role in Jewish life. Many people today do not feel that affiliation with a synagogue is an important way to experience or express their Jewishness. But synagogues offer a unique way to act and be communally with other Jews and they have great potential to be more inviting and likeable in the future.

If you feel a desire to be part of a synagogue community, with all the social, spiritual and educational opportunities they offer, do not be shy about talking to them. You will find most of them welcoming and delighted that you are interested.

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