Boring in Israel – Meanwhile in New York


Over tea I was reading the English edition of Jerusalem Post online, and in it I read that Temple Emanu-El in New York City charged between $850 and $3000+ for Rosh Hashanah services. The JPost calls the synagogue posh, and points out that the more expensive tickets would have paid for two tickets to see Hamilton. To be honest the expensive tickets include the yearly membership fees as well, but still, if I had 3000 dollars to blow in NYC, I’d definitely opt for seeing Hamilton over pay to pray.
In full honesty, my synagogue has membership fees, and we sell tickets for high holiday services to non-members. That’s because just like Christmas and Easter Christians attend church twice a year, many Jews only come to shul for the high holidays and Passover only. Many of them won’t formally join a synagogue. When they come, our synagogue fills up, and while we love having them, regular members and attendees are guaranteed a spot to sit down. We sell tickets for NIS 20 (4 cups of Cofix coffee or less than $5) for seats, but everyone is welcome to come join us–we might not be able to seat them, but people are pretty good with bringing folding chairs. These tickets bring in less than 1000 dollar/event, and we usually spend it on replacing worn siddurs (prayer books) and buying books for our library. We also serve refreshments, so it’s not a bad deal. But chargimg 3K? Excessive, even if the members are generally well off.

In our shul membership fees pay for the maintenance of the building, the rabbi’s and the chazzan’s salaries, bills and other necessary expenses to keep the congregation running. On the ither hand, members regularly carry out tzadakah, but contributing to various charities, causes, or giving directly to those in need. This is an obligation to us, and generally about 10% of our income goes towards tzedakah.

Oh herr is the original article referenced by JPost from The Telegraph! 

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