Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What's your synagogue's policy on who can be a member?

This morning, Twitter asked: "What's your synagogue's policy on who can be a member?" and I confess the question puzzled me.

Our nice little RW shul collects about 2 grand per family in membership dues, and I can't picture the men who run our shul ever leaving so much as a dime on the table. If the pope sent in a membership check, I'm sure we'd cash it.

Also, I can't think of a single benefit members receive over non-members. Everyone pays the same fee for a kiddush, and everyone gets aliyot (and, honestly, is being denied an aliyah such a tragedy? Its just another chance for the shul to hit you up for a donation.) Someone who has been "denied membership" hasn't lost anything.

The question suggests its different on the left wing, but how?

I also can't imagine my shul barring entry to anyone who came to pray, or sit quietly (or, let's be honest: chat quietly.) If a non-Jew were to walk in, we'd probably ignore him. We certainly wouldn't expel him. And if a Jew with a non-Jewish spouse were to enter, we'd ignore that, too.

Now, I will confess that while the non-Jew would likely be ignored at first, a crisis might develop over time as the hotheads and pius complainers gathered steam. But I can't even guess how that crises might play out. Would the non-Jew be asked to stay home? Would he be confronted? I really don't know, but would be quite amused to witness a test case.

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