Asher Tannenbaum, Ritual Director

It is that same time of year again. The lazy, calm days of summer and we know the storm that lies around the corner. B’nai Mitzvah students returning from camp, new students beginning lessons, High Holyday checklist of all that has to be done and of course, my Rosh HaShanah message. I want to share an article I read a few weeks ago titled “The Best Things in Life Are Not Free – Neither Is Being Jewish.” The author is basically saying that it is too expensive to be Jewish while trying to afford the cost of Bar Mitzvah lessons for her son as well as paying for synagogue membership and High Holyday seats.

The issue of the high cost of synagogue membership is not a new one. A synagogue does need to actually run beyond the High Holydays and to do so needs money. As much as synagogues need money, a synagogue needs bodies and souls – people to fill the pews, but also people that believe that being Jewish is an important part of their lives. And Jewish institutions are obligated to be more welcoming financially if they want to continue to exist. But at the same time, we Jews are obligated to take a stand in terms of who we are, what is important to us and what we want a Jewish community to be. Those of us who are “inside” need to be more welcoming to those who are not. Synagogues should be making greater efforts to penetrate the homes of its members to deepen its daily relevance. The best things in life are sometimes not free – but if we do not see them as the best things in life, we sure are not going to pay for them. We as Jews who are invested in Jewish continuity need to make Judaism a way of life and not a service provider.

On behalf of my family, I want to wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Sweet New Year.