The Jewish High Holidays are right around the corner – just over a month away – and that means conversations once again turn to the issue of cost. As most people are aware, synagogues often require members to purchase tickets in order to attend services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. This is a hardship for many families who already pay synagogue dues, as well as newcomers who aren’t comfortable paying hefty sums of money to enter a synagogue on the holiest days of the year. We pointed out in a widely circulated op-ed last year that this “myth” that it costs to pray on the High Holidays was being shattered by a “few bold, practical thinkers.”
The United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey certainly falls into the category of bold thinkers. According to an article in the New Jersey Jewish News, the UJC is working with synagogues across denominational lines to create a MetroPass, a one-of-a-kind pass that will allow newcomers to the community the opportunity to attend High Holiday services for free.
This is a great concept for a couple of reasons. First, lowering the cost barrier is remarkably important in encouraging people to walk through our doors. Recent articles have touched upon the general cost of raising a Jewish family, so removing a hurdle such as ticket prices for High Holidays – which can total hundreds of dollars – is a great idea.
Second, this gives newcomers a chance to explore the Jewish community before making a financial commitment. We often argue that offering free samples for something as important as synagogue membership benefits both the family and the institution. For the family, they have a chance to give a synagogue or Jewish institution a “test drive” and make sure it’s the right fit. For the synagogue or institution, it gives them a chance to connect with newcomers, show them what they have to offer and help newcomers discover the value and meaning of being part of the Jewish community.
While more and more synagogues and congregations across North America lower or eliminate the cost of High Holiday tickets, MetroWest New Jersey is demonstrating that communities can find ways to work together for the common goal of strengthening the entire Jewish community.
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