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October 19, 1984 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-10-19

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

friclay, 0c4oben19, i1:904 5

THE DETROIT JEAISH,NEWS

SPITZER'S

LETTERS

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LSolving the problem
of non-affiliation

It was with equal portions of
iiaterest and anguish that I read
Rabbi Jack Riemer's recent arti-
cle, "Why Belong?", in The Jewish
dos. I recognize that considera-
te. thought must have gone into
the article. However, the re-
sponses of the questions posed by
Rabbi Riemer regarding non-
Affiliation with synagogue life by
such a great percentage of Ameri-
17-01 Jews did not, as I perceive it,
deal substantively with the prob-
lem.
The need for synagogue affilia-
tion, as indicated by the article, is
greater than merely providing bat
and bar mitzvah and performing
at funerals. I wish to address the
(nE.‘7;ds of one segment of congreg-
cajas, namely those of us no longer
young but not yet old who seek
meaningful value from our
synagogue affiliation.
The synagogue or temple that I
have become familiar with in no
ay resembles the synagogue of
which I have such fond memories,
ur does it in any way encompass
the synagogue that I envision as
ideal. I recognize that the ideal
facility (not in the physical sense
aine) is not within the realm of
achievement, but that which con-
(gregants in the main now have is
so far less than that which they
ar- '- seeking that it may preclude
affiliation with the synagogue.
I do not believe that people do
not belong to a synagogue because
of its costs or the fact that their
ildren are grown, or even that
their parents have passed on. I be-
-1 eve that people do not join
rsynagogues or temples for reasons
&.,-)emingly esoteric but truly sub-
stantive.
Let us look at the synagogue,
the physical facility. In the main,
it is vast, intimidating and, by its
very nature, precludes the inti-
,?,P.cy that I believe most people
are searching for. I recognize that
(there are certain economies of
scale in bigness, however, one
' weighs the benefits achieved and
the burden subscribed to in af-
filiating with the "grand
Lgynagogue." I, for one, believe
there are too few synagogues
9 S distinguished from the popular
thought today that there are too
many. I believe that the
synagogue should be the center of
J'-nvish cultural and religious life
and an extension of the family
nit. I believe that the size of
I I synagogues with membAships
t=anning from 500 to 2,000
families are of such a nature as to
preclude personal relationship
with the rabbi, the cantor, the
sexton and other leaders of the
congregation.
There is also a negative factor,
as I perceive it, in synagogue life,
I which should be an extension of
the family and encompass tradi-
tional Jewish values, but has now
become a safe harbor and an alter
ego for country club life. There is a
- cult of exclusivity which is always
7-prevalent in any group and the
\---conomic imbalance of various
congregants, as related to other
congregants, bestows certain
honor and credit which histori-
eally was vested in our learned
and righteous people. This is not
say that wealth and learning
are mutually exclusive, but it is a
Continued on next page

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