Traditional synagogues remain essential
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I was very interested in Robert White’s March 1 letter titled “Moving beyond the conventional synagogue,” as I am an active board member of the congregation of which he is a past president. I applaud the efforts of those involved in expanding participation in Shabbat minyan, as I believe this leads to a more experiential Jewish life. However, I was unclear as to the advantages of an independent minyan, other than an absence of organizational and financial concerns that are part of maintaining a traditional synagogue.
I thought Mr. White was rather dismissive in appreciating the benefits of having a full array of offerings when he stated “While one can argue that synagogues are, at least, full-service institutions …” It is these very services, including daily minyan, lifecycle support, rabbinical access, High Holy Day services, Jewish schooling and festival observance, that are lacking to some extent with an independent minyan.
Therefore, at various times, it is essential for nearly all of us to avail ourselves of the offerings found in the institutional setting. Given the frequency of events (both predictable and unpredictable), operating a traditional synagogue is a 365-days-per-year effort, and this requires funding.
Furthermore, I disagree with Mr. White’s description of synagogue budgets as “bloated.” I commend participation in a Shabbat service, but I strongly assert that in a metropolitan area such as ours, the traditional synagogue is essential to fulfilling our needs, and that in turn, requires financial support.
Leonard S. Yaffe, M.D. | Tiburon
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