A Jewish proverb states, “Three things are certain in life: birth, death and membership dues.” No, we can’t get away from them, but we can rethink them. And we are. The Temple leadership is rethinking how to restructure dues. But this isn’t a conversation for only the Temple leadership to engage in.
We need your voice and participation in this dues and membership conversation.
Over the years, and more recently in the strategic planning campaign, TNT 2020, dues have been a recurring concern. Most unsettling are comments that dues can create a barrier to membership and even a reason to leave Ner Tamid. This is not what we are about. Dues are necessary, but should not limit anyone’s membership. Give what you can, do what you are able.
Our main desire, our congregational mission, in fact, is to establish a community where each member is valued and you feel you can contribute to the community’s social, spiritual, and cultural well-being. This is our community: where all together, we create our Jewish present and future. Each of us invests part of our lives at TNT: From Shabbat, Religious School, Bar/Bat Mitzvah and chanting circle to Havdallah Cafes, Purimspiels and Purim carnivals, softball team and senior’s group.
TNT’s business is about Jewish lives. Since we are all part of TNT, it’s also our business. We find our dividends in life-long memories and lasting friendships; and discover them at life events and at the most unsuspecting moments. Dues may keep the lights on; your participation keeps this community vibrant.
Earlier, we mentioned dues restructuring. The board has found a ‘Free Will’ dues model which might work well for us. Here is a simple description of this model: The synagogue provides a transparent view of financial costs at a per-member basis. Members, in turn, give honest consideration to what they can commit to the temple. No financial reviews.
Dues, finances, and membership are complicated topics and we’ve only skimmed the surface. What next?
Our congregation is not alone in this struggle. Many synagogues across the country are also exploring alternate dues models, including Free Will. Coincidentally, the Spring 2014 edition of Reform Judaism, (you may have received it in the mail recently), features an article about ‘Free Will’ membership. Here is a link to that article for you to read: Reform Judaism Free Will Article
This will be a topic at our congregational meeting on May 21st. We will also host focused town hall meetings over the next several months for you to come and discuss this in person. Ask questions, listen and engage with other community members on this important topic.
Please understand that nothing has been decided. This is an important, community-wide conversation impacting all of us. As we continue our explorations, we may make a change, or decide to make none.
However we proceed, we hope we can forge new relationships, stronger bonds and an even more robust community.
We look forward to you joining us in the conversation.