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.