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Eliminate Dues

Many Jews don’t join synagogues because they can’t afford, don’t want to pay, or resent the high cost of being a member. The cost of tickets for High Holy Day tickets has the same effect. The result is that a very high percentage of Jews don’t ever go to synagogues and do not attend High Holy Day services. These Jews are basically lost from the Jewish social community. Before our eyes, we are seeing a repeat of the Ten Lost Tribes and we have been unsuccessful at saving them from eventual disappearance.

There must be a better way. As a people who are the most generous philanthropists in the history of the world, it seems to me we can find a way to support synagogues and other Jewish community organizations without charging, or without charging so much. Our style is not to pass the plate, but if churches can build and maintain a religious community without dues and tickets, it seems like we could find a way to do it too. I don’t claim to have all the answers to this problem, but I’ll bet together we can come up with some. Then we have to convince the powers that be to give our ideas a chance.

Jonathan Zimet, a member of my LinkedIn group called Jewish Leaders, mentioned that some Christian denominations have a strong awareness of the biblical tithing command. Tithing is actually a Jewish concept, being commanded in . I believe it comes from the Torah, though for whatever reason it is not something we are taught. I don’t know how they supported their synagogues and rabbis in shtetl times, but I’ll bet it wasn’t with dues and tickets. Maybe they did that in the big cities. I’m not saying no synagogue should charge dues, but its really not good that they pretty much all do. It alienates our institutions from our people. I think we have gotten too country clubish in our attitudes and that decreases a feeling of community and increases formalism.

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