What’s in it for me?
From baby namings to funeral services, the benefits of Temple membership are numerous and varied. But the real benefit is community: as you are there for us, so we are there for you. Whether you come once a year for High Holy Days or share in our services every Shabbat, your membership makes you part of a Jewish family. Like any family, we will both delight and annoy you. What more could a Jew ask?
What’s in it for CSC?
“These are the obligations whose reward is without measure.” The words of our Shabbat prayer have special significance in this context. The Jewish community can survive only if every member supports it. Just as you take responsibility for our needs with your contributions, we in turn pledge to care about yours. We welcome your honesty with regard to your own financial situation. At CSC, there is no such thing as “I can’t afford to be a member.” Come talk to us: we want to bring you closer.
Can I join at any time?
Yes. Dues may be prorated depending on when you join and dues relief is always available. The CSC fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. If you purchase tickets for High Holy Days at a non-member rate and then decide to join within 60 days, the cost of the tickets can be applied to your annual dues.
What is CSC doing to insure its financial future?
Because we care deeply about our synagogue today, we have had the foresight to plan for tomorrow. The Congregation Shir Chadash Foundation Fund, a tax-exempt charitable organization, was established with the sole purpose of managing Congregation Shir Chadash’s endowment. It is a goal of this fund to create designated reserves which will underwrite important areas of Synagogue life. We encourage you to consider the Foundation when doing estate planning.
Anything else I should know?
Congregation Shir Chadash is at once one of the oldest and newest synagogues serving the Greater Long Beach/West Orange County Jewish community. After more than fifty years as a Conservative synagogue, in 2006 the congregation decided to chart a new direction as an independent synagogue.
Where can I learn more?
Just go to the front page of our website (www.csclakewood.org) and subscribe to our newsletters. The newsletter is free and full of up-to-date information about events in our community.
We make it easy to connect to your Judaism.
Services – Worship is our business and tradition is our middle name! Join us for Friday evening services which are innovative & Saturday morning services which are traditional. On Thursday mornings “be counted” by joining our Minyan at 9 am. We have Jewish holidays galore!
Religious School – Our children are our greatest asset! Our Religious School teachers, parents and volunteers work together to give our students, not only the best of their Jewish heritage but a place they will always think of as their second home.
Adult Education – Whether you want a single class or a year’s worth, we probably have something in our Adult Education programs that will be just the thing you are looking for. And, if we don’t, we invite you to ask for it, or even teach it!
Still on the fence? Don’t be a stranger! Everyone is welcomed at services, events, and classes. Drop in, sign up, get to know us. We think you’ll like us!
Call us at 562-429-0715 for Membership Forms.
Synagogue Membership and Dues: Frequently Asked Questions
“To be part of a community, to shape it, and to strengthen it is the most urgent, the most vital obligation facing the Jewish individual.”
Have synagogues always charged dues?
Jewish communities have always been self-supporting, whether they were part of an independent commonwealth or within the bounds of a ruling nation, by charging a tithe, or a ten percent tax. The Torah teaches, “You shall set aside every year a tenth part of all the yield of your sowing that is brought from the field” (Deuteronomy 14:22).
The tithes, or ma’aserot, were given to the Levites, the tribe in charge of the Temple and the ancient ritual practices. Because the Levites were unable to grow food, they were supported by the community. “And to the Levites I hereby give all the tithes in Israel as their share in return for the service that they perform,” (Numbers 18:21). “But do not neglect the [family of the] Levite in your community, for he has no hereditary portion as you have” (Deuteronomy 14:27).
Why does synagogue membership cost money?
Today, we can think of the synagogue staff as the modern equivalent of the Levites and Kohanes, or priests, of ancient Israel. Congregations need a spiritual leader, usually a rabbi, to perform religious services and ceremonies and to provide guidance. The executive directors and administrators are the modern day Levites who maintain the synagogue. In return for providing these services, the community supports their synagogue staff.
Synagogues also depend on membership dues to pay for programs and upkeep of the facility. In other words, in order for any one service to exist during the year, clergy, educators, school supplies, utilities, food and much more must be paid for by the entire community.
Why should I join a synagogue? I can get most of the benefits without paying for membership.
It is possible to attend Shabbat services and pay non-member fees for classes and High Holy Day tickets and never become a member. People join a synagogue in order to become part of a community of values where people care for each other through times of celebration and sorrow. They choose to support these values with their money and their energy.
Paying membership dues to a synagogue is different than a pay-for-service system, like a health club where one pays only for the services chosen. Like the taxes one pays to the county and state, synagogue dues are not for specific services. Becoming a member and paying dues are acts of commitment to the community. In a time of crisis, synagogue communities offer counseling and support. At times of joy, congregations come together to celebrate.
How are membership dues determined?
There are several ways that synagogues determine how to charge membership dues. It is important to note that synagogues count membership by households. Usually the cost of religious school is billed separately.
Fixed Rate In this system, the congregation sets a dollar amount for each member household. Ask about lower rates for single members and single parents.
Fair Share This system more closely resembles tithing by charging a percentage of annual income ranging from one to three percent. Some synagogues have a sliding scale so that higher income households pay a higher percentage.
Why don’t synagogues use collection baskets and take donations like churches?
To a person who has not participated in synagogue life, membership dues may seem like a foreign concept for a religious institution but Jewish law forbids carrying or exchanging money on Shabbat, the Sabbath.
Synagogues do take donations at other times. Donations can be made to general funds or to specific funds, such as a scholarship. Many people make donations in honor of a simcha, a joyous occasion such as a wedding, birth, bar mitzvah, graduation, or in memoriam of a loved one at their yartzeit, the anniversary of their death. Synagogues may offer engraved plaques displayed in the synagogue to honor or memorialize your donation.
Why do synagogues sell tickets to High Holy Day services?
Charging for tickets to the High Holy Day services is simply a different form of tithing the community. The worship services are free but they can only take place because there is financial support from a community that pays the rent, utilities, salaries and all that is needed to create the worship experience. For non-members, a portion of these costs are included in the price of the tickets. Synagogue membership includes the cost of High Holy Day tickets.
During the High Holy Days, it is also quite common for congregations to put donation envelopes in the lobby and inside the machzorim, High Holy Day prayer books. In this way, those in attendance who feel moved by the holiday liturgy or the sermon can take the envelope home and mail in a donation.
What if I can’t afford the cost of membership?
Synagogues are interested in welcoming you to the community. Long term membership means you are part of the community, rich or poor. If you are unable to pay the full membership amount, contact the synagogue office for information. Each congregation has a different method of handling financial questions, but all have a process for members who are unable to pay the standard rate. Some will simply ask how much you can contribute annually or monthly, others may ask you to have a personal consultation with a staff or board member to determine the best contribution.
Please, do not let embarrassment or guilt stop you from joining a synagogue. No one wants to make you feel uncomfortable. Jewish law prohibits causing embarrassment or shame to another person. The Talmud teaches, “One who whitens his friend’s face [i.e. puts him to shame] in public has no share in The World to Come. The whitening of the face is a subtle form of murder” (Gemara Bava Metzia 58b & 59a).
Many people do not pay the full requested amount at some point in their lifetime but do try to make as many donations as possible. It is common for synagogues to offer membership as a gift to newlyweds. Be sure to ask about options when you find a congregation that interests you.
What Is Reform Jewish Outreach?
Outreach is a Reform Jewish community effort to welcome those seeking a stronger connection to Judaism: Jews-by-Choice, interfaith couples and families, parents of interfaith married children, and everyone interested in knowing more about Judaism.
Outreach does not seek to convert non-Jewish individuals. Rather, it enables them to explore, study, and come to understand Judaism, thereby providing an atmosphere of support in which a comfortable relationship with Judaism can be fostered.