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Free High Holiday Tickets?

The URJ has posted an opinion poll on whether H.H. tickets should be free and open to all (or not). Read the full thread here:

http://blogs.rj.org/reform/2009/08/debatable-should-we-offer-free.html

My response appears on the URJ site and below:


Opening the doors to your synagogue wide does nothing to hurt, and everything to help – whether you are talking about people who are disaffected, disenfranchised, or merely dysfunctional 😉

If you need to find out who’s coming for logistical reasons (ie: fire codes and seating limits) then certainly implement an RSVP policy with tickets so as not to penalize those who planned ahead versus those who decided last minute, but got to the door early. But make every effort to welcome ALL.

Ms. Sukenik I think you miss the point when you imply that without dues, members would have to pay for tickets. I submit that HH attendence is free to all. Period. Think of it as “inreach” as well as “outreach”.

If someone is afraid that people will not have a reason to join (and support) the synagogue if they “give the good stuff away for free” then I respectfully submit that they have mis-identified “the good stuff”.

In my (perhaps not so) humble opinion, a synagogue doesn’t attract and retain members because of High Holidays and Lifecycle events. It doesn’t encourage enthusiastic member participation that way either. Nor do those things inspire charitable giving and financial support.

All those things happen when a synagogue is a worthwhile (and need I add holy?) community where individuals are welcomed, feel welcome and can see a place for themselves beyond a seat in the sanctuary twice a year.

One Response to “Free High Holiday Tickets?”

  1. Frume Sarah says:

    No one is more surprised than I to discover that my long-held views on this topic have changed. Somewhat.

    It is frustrating to know that there will still be folks who show up at HHD and not think to attend or support the shul during the rest of the year.

    That being said, I do worry about the message that is sent when we affix prices to attendance.

    By us, we give out a lot of free tickets. We never charge students, service members, or folks who show a ticket from another shul. And the Rabbis give away a bunch at their own discretion. And if someone says they can’t afford the ticket, we invite them to pay what they can…and welcome them.

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