Letter: Dues are dues at Temple Bat Yam in South Lake Tahoe
This is the start of membership renewal season at Temple Bat Yam in South Lake Tahoe.
Too often the start of the fiscal year is a time filled with angst for Jewish congregants because it signals the start of membership drives. I find it remarkable that at Temple Bat Yam the dues structure is set up on a purely voluntary basis. It reflects the philosophy that each congregant should be valued for contributing what they can. This means congregants are only expected to pay what they can comfortably afford without it being tied to a salary structure or net worth.
When I told my aunt and uncle of this novel approach they just scoffed and said “Mazel Tov, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
I can understand their skepticism because I have heard stories of some temples requiring members to show income tax returns and dues based on the bottom line. Some temples even calculate dues based on the general values of homes in the area.
I admit that I have always had trouble reconciling paying money to practice a particular faith. The “pay to pray” concept is obnoxious to me.
Then again, I never wanted to belong to a temple until I discovered Temple Bat Yam. I never considered the bills that need to be paid just to keep the lights working and the water running. I never considered the necessity of having to pay rent or the needs of the teachers, rabbi, or cantor.
Now that I am really involved with the temple and all that it does, I realize that these bills don’t just get paid magically. Plus, at Temple Bat Yam the rabbi insists that no one will be denied membership due to lack of money.
We understand that not every congregant will be able to pay the sustaining amount. But we also expect that those who can afford to pay more, will.
Now with my new understanding of what Temple Bat Yam is about, I am able to tell my aunt and uncle that their skepticism is misplaced when it comes to our congregation.
Two beggars are sitting on the pavement in Ireland. One is holding a large Cross and the other a large Star of David. Both are holding hats to collect contributions. As people walk by, they ignore the guy holding the Star of David but drop money into the hat held by the man with the Cross.
A priest watches and then approaches the men. He turns to the guy with the Star of David and says, “Don’t you realize that this is a Christian country? You won’t get many contributions in this country holding a Star of David.”
The guy holding the Star of David then turns to the guy holding the Cross and says, “Moishe, look who’s trying to teach us marketing.”
Temple Bat Yam
South Lake Tahoe