Synagogues in mixed communities

Trilcat vents about people who object to government allocations for synagogues, yet visit on holidays or when they want an aliyah for their son’s bar mitzvah. I am not sure that the people complaining about municipal allocations for religious purposes are the same as those stopping by for Ne’ilah on Yom Kippur.  Large numbers of Israelis feel close to Judaism, even if it isn’t obvious, and want the government to support religious infrastructure. 
In the few mixed religious/secular neighborhoods left in Israel, synagogues operate with a certain level of tension. The municipality donates land and funds to begin building, but the members raise the rest. Each family contributes several thousand dollars or more, not including maintenance costs. So while in theory the synagogue is a public building, members consider it their private domain. Shuls in my neighborhood offer membership only when they can provide a fixed seat for each male family member. So membership is closed, there is little room for visitors, and a shul can get “cliquey’ fast. And young couples and others without means have to hop around.
Our synagogue tries to strike a balance between accommodating the outside community and keeping maintenance costs reasonable. We host neighborhood bar mitzvahs, although they cause (preventable) disruption. The synagogue is wheelchair-accessible, including the bathrooms. The “gabbaim” direct visitors to available seats, so they won’t get kicked out by a regular. But unless they need a wheelchair, non-members can’t hold functions in the shul to minimize noise and traffic on the residential street. 
For the last several years the shul has tried to attract neighbors to High Holiday prayers, and just gave everyone flyers to place in mailboxes. There is no charge for those who don’t want a reserved seat.

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Comments

  1. Rona Michelson says:

    Actually, in our community (the same as triLcat’s) people *do* drop in for Kol Nidre and/or Yizkor and/or Neila and/or Simchat Torah and we don’t see them the whole rest of the year. We have a good number of people use our shul (without payment, of course) for a shabbat Bar Mitzvah. Many times the women wear tight jeans, navels showing, decolletages exposed. Not only do we ask for no payment for the use of the shul, but we do not even expect them to make a kiddush. I am willing to bet that among them are people who would resent communal funds being used to build synagogues.

  2. Rona Michelson says:

    Actually, in our community (the same as triLcat’s) people *do* drop in for Kol Nidre and/or Yizkor and/or Neila and/or Simchat Torah and we don’t see them the whole rest of the year. We have a good number of people use our shul (without payment, of course) for a shabbat Bar Mitzvah. Many times the women wear tight jeans, navels showing, decolletages exposed. Not only do we ask for no payment for the use of the shul, but we do not even expect them to make a kiddush. I am willing to bet that among them are people who would resent communal funds being used to build synagogues.

  3. mother in israel says:

    Your synagogue is generous. However, a person’s dress, even in the synagogue, says nothing about her political opinions.

  4. mother in israel says:

    Your synagogue is generous. However, a person’s dress, even in the synagogue, says nothing about her political opinions.

  5. mother in israel says:

    I added a sentence to the post to clarify it. I don’t believe that the most anti-religious are showing up on Rosh Hashanah. Large numbers don’t bother.

  6. mother in israel says:

    I added a sentence to the post to clarify it. I don’t believe that the most anti-religious are showing up on Rosh Hashanah. Large numbers don’t bother.

  7. Lion in Zion says:

    i went for shabbat once to moshav nordia (?). it’s not religious, but they had a shul. from what i remember it was a small minyan of mostly old-timers. my host explained to me that the moshav built it so the members could have bar mitzvas.

  8. Lion in Zion says:

    i went for shabbat once to moshav nordia (?). it’s not religious, but they had a shul. from what i remember it was a small minyan of mostly old-timers. my host explained to me that the moshav built it so the members could have bar mitzvas.

  9. mother in israel says:

    In my son’s yeshiva, students go around to neighboring moshavim to lain on shabbat. These places barely get a minyan, and the last time he went, only two people showed up.

  10. mother in israel says:

    In my son’s yeshiva, students go around to neighboring moshavim to lain on shabbat. These places barely get a minyan, and the last time he went, only two people showed up.

  11. Lion in Zion says:

    they were more than happy to have me lein for them. i wouldn’t be surprised if they no longer get a minyan at this point.

  12. Lion in Zion says:

    they were more than happy to have me lein for them. i wouldn’t be surprised if they no longer get a minyan at this point.

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