Series alert: member poaching and pay-as-you-go synagogues

My wife forwarded along to me a link she found on the Tablet website to an article in the New York Jewish Week about non-traditional synagogue models and the difficulties (read: sh*t-fit) they are causing in the Long Island Jewish community.

There’s just so much to unpack in that one article; many of the issues it raises are ideas I have been thinking about for some time. So, parsing the article will be this blog’s inaugural series! I intend to discuss a few different issues: rabbinical education, the role of rabbis in modern Judaism, the role of the community, the role of the synagogue, affiliation, and religious entrepreneurship.

Stay tuned–we’ll be back with more over the next few days.

8 thoughts on “Series alert: member poaching and pay-as-you-go synagogues

  1. You know, this is truly depressing to read and stupid… I live in SLC, I’m a closet atheist (a due paying member of SHJ), but I love Conservative services. The synagogue I attend is dual affiliated: Reform AND Conservative with a reform rabbi and conservative cantor, we lend the building to the Reconstructionists, and have a decent relationship with Chabad. In a place where Jews are a tiny minority in a Mormon state, we find ways to get along. The “synagogue wars” reality depresses me…

    • Agreed. Also a dues-paying member of SHJ, and a little bit more (to be revealed around October).

      Indianapolis has one of the more odd Jewish communities I’ve seen. We have a Reform synagogue, a full-on Conservative synagogue, a synagogue that is affiliated Reconstructionst AND Conservative, an Ashkenazi-style Orthodox synagogue, and a Sefardic-style more-or-less Orthodox synagogue. There are a few havurot floating around, and there was a Reform congregation that doesn’t have a building or rabbi for itself (I don’t know the status of that one). Chabad here has just recently broken ground on a new building.

      Here, much of your identity in the Jewish community basically derives from which synagogue you belong to. So you’ll hear, “Oh, So-and-so goes to Beth El Zedeck, so-and-so goes to IHC,” etc. Frequently, people won’t go to events at the other synagogues, and there are some tense family relationships as a result. We belonged to the full-on Conservative synagogue for a while but left for several different reasons.

      I’m certain that when SHJ comes to town here in a more real way, there’s going to be some significant badness that happens…

      • I really wish there will be a SHJ comes to Salt Lake City, although I think my half Conservative/Reform synagogue probably have some closet atheists there too lol

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  4. Pingback: Member Poaching Item 3: Affiliation | A secular Jew in Indianapolis

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