THAT ALL JEWS HAVE SYNAGOGUE MEMBERSHIP
The survey showed that less than one-third of American Jews say they belong to a synagogue. Twenty-three percent of U.S. Jews say they attend synagogue at least once or twice a month. Forty-six percent of Jewish households report that they pay dues to a synagogue or temple in the area, and 76 percent report attending services at least on the High Holidays and some as often as weekly.
In order to increase these numbers and ensure that all Jews have synagogue membership, the Jewish leaders are implementing the Affordable Synagogue Membership Plan (ASMP), also known as Judaicare. The plan will enroll members through an exchange, enabling all Jews to choose the membership plan that best suits them. Participants must choose a plan before Rosh Hashanah, when the price of their admission to services will double if they are not listed on the membership rolls.
This penalty, or tax, or mandate, will be offset by subsidies in cases of hardship, although so far nobody has any idea where the money to pay the subsidies will come from. When they log on to the website www.judaicare.org, they will have a choice of affiliating with a Haredi, Yeshivish, Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Sephardic, Conservadox, Flexidox, Conservative, Reformative, Reform, or Reconstructionist congregation. There will be no penalty for switching from a pre-existing denominational affiliation to a new one.
In each region there will be a choice of plans, but because COPOMCOPOMJO is instituting minimum standards for synagogue services and related programs, the cost of all membership plans is expected to increase significantly. Enrollees may find that the cost of hot kiddushes with chulent, kugel, sushi, and single malt scotch in every synagogue and support of mikvah, may experience sticker shock when they see the actual cost of membership.
Congregants will not be required to change their membership. COPOMCOPOMJO President Moishe Kapoier declared that “If you like your synagogue, you can keep your synagogue.” But the cost of all memberships is likely to rise because younger people, who are not used to paying dues, may decide it’s more economical for them to pay double for High Holiday seats rather than pay a high membership fee for services that they don’t plan to use.
If younger people don’t sign up in the large numbers needed to keep Judaicare solvent, leaders are considering the imposition of surcharges on the membership plans of congregants who exceed usage of available resources (see chart below.)
At press time, neither the rabbis of these two synagogues nor the adminstrators of Judaicare could be reached for comment.