Moving beyond the conventional synagogue
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Theodore Bresler’s letter “Spiritual nourishment doesn’t come for free” (Feb. 22) assumes that there is only one model of religious community that works: the conventional synagogue. He is mistaken.
One of the most refreshing developments on the Jewish scene today is the independent minyan movement, which in the Bay Area is represented by groups such as the Mission Minyan and The Kitchen.
If my own experience with the Mission Minyan is any example, there is definitely a third way. Independent minyans are characterized by an absence of hierarchy, depend on their members rather than staff to get things done, and have not succumbed to the desperate need for money that seems to characterize synagogues with buildings to build/maintain and bloated budgets and which distorts communal life and synagogue governance on so many different levels.
While one can argue that synagogues are, at least, full-service institutions, I question how much use typical members make of such services — and falling membership numbers seem to support that conclusion. Like Mr. Bresler, I have been president of a conventional synagogue and have some basis for making this comparison.
Mr. Bresler may also be surprised to learn that the Mission Minyan has no dues.
Robert White | San Francisco
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