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April 01, 1983 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-04-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

8

Friday, April 1, 1983 -

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Sober Issue: Synagogue Survival

5 lbs. of MATZO
if 1 can't beat your best deal

MARGOLIS

(A Seven Arts Feature)

Inflation has died down,
but nobody knows when the
next round will come. The
breathing spell we are
enjoying right now might be
reason enough to survey the
devastating results infla-
tion had on the life of our
congregations and other
Jewish organizations.
There was a time when
membership dues covered
70 and more percent of the
total expenses. A congrega-
tion is lucky if, in spite of
the increase of dues, mem-
bership fees cover 40 per-
cent of the budget. The bal-
ance has to be raised by
other means.
As a last resort, new
mortgages and debts seem
to provide a way out. But
one can only burden future
generations if a stable
membership is a certainty.
Although nobody can
foresee the future, there are
developments pointing to a

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shrinking membership base
in the decades ahead.
Foremost of all, there
are the demographic
changes among Jews in
America that will have a
bearing on the future.
The number of older
people will increase, the
number of young people
will decrease. There are
and will be more single
women of child-bearing
age that have chosen
their own way of life. As
far as the older people
are concerned, their
move to the Sunbelt, the
effect of inflation on their
giving power have to be
reckoned with.
In the metropolitan
areas, neighborhoods have
changed. Congregations
had to move after their
members. Some of these
congregations have tried to
retain their membership by
merging with another con-
gregation. But it is a risky
venture. There are person-

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ality clashes, rivalries, and
different customs to contend
with.
While inflation, demog-
raphic facts and changing
neighborhoods provide
ample reason for adjust-
ments and planning, due
consideration has to be
given to a change in atti-
tude and an ever increasing
polarization among Ameri-
can Jews.
There is hardening of
minds, the absence of any
willingness to compromise
that is pervading Jewish
life today as it is prevailing
in our society in general. It
is unavoidable that such an
attitude will increase each
and every problem we are
faced with. It hardly could
be different.
If the trend to merge
and to combine is here,
will it mean that the small
congregation as such is
doomed? Will it mean
that it will not be possible
to preserve a more per-
sonal and fraternal way
of life?
The answer will depend
on the financial structure of
every congregation, the way
they handled their finances
in the past. Some have
amassed marketable real
estate that can be sold and
the proceeds used to lower
debts or to bridge the future.
As a whole, if congrega-
tions do not consider in their
plans the problems inherent
in the situation, they will be
in trouble. If they do not
know how to handle their
finances and the concerns of
their members in a prudent
manner, they will join the
list of defunct congrega-
tions. It will be only a ques-
tion of time.

Naturally, the pressures
do not only come from their
financial side. Especially,
congregations of the Con-
servative persuasion have
been caught up in the
struggle to have women
participate in services in a
manner completely at odds
with the past. Here again
the lack of compromise has
lead to a large percentage of
members who resigned.

It is not at all sure
whether, in the final
analysis, finances will not
dictate a rethinking of
theological principles that
divide Judaism, whether
people will not finally see
that they have to change
their outlook and that a
spirit of cooperation will be
forced upon a reluctant
leadership anxious to
preserve their own turf.
Time will tell.

UN Friendship

NEW YORK (ZINS) — Is-
rael's UN Ambassador
Yehuda Blum and General
Assembly President Imra
Hulai of Hungary have es-
tablished a cordial relation-
ship. Blum was born in
Hungary.
As 1982 ended, Blum sent
Hulai a New Year greeting
written in Hungarian.
Hulai responded by wishing
Blum and Israel a year of
peace and prosperity.

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