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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Worship, Conversion, Intermarriage (5/12)
Section - Question 9.9: How is a synagogue operated?

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                                  Answer:
   
   Synagogues are operated in a manner similar to most non-profit
   organizations. They are generally run by a board of directors composed
   of lay people, which manages and maintains the synagogue and its
   activities, and hires religious staff for the community. There is
   typically a congregation president, and other common positions include
   secretary and treasurer. There are positions that deal with religious
   practices, social action, membership, and other functions provided by
   the organization.
   
   Typcially, the religious staff is not a member of the board (although
   they could be); they are typically employees of the congregation. In
   many congregations, they earn a salary. The religious staff typically
   includes a rabbi and an cantor. The latter position is sometimes
   called a music director. The educational leadership is often part of
   the relgious staff.
   
   It is worth noting that a synagogue can exist without a rabbi:
   religious services can be, and often are, conducted by lay people in
   whole or in part. It is not unusual for a synagogue to be without a
   rabbi, at least temporarily. However, the rabbi is a valuable member
   of the community, providing leadership, guidance and education.
   
   Synagogues do not pass around collection plates during services.
   Traditionally, this is because Jews are not permitted to carry money
   on Holy days and Shabbat. Instead, synagogues are financed through
   membership dues paid annually, through voluntary donations, through
   community fundraisers, and through the purchase of reserved seats for
   services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the holidays when the
   synagogue is most crowded). There are two primary approaches to
   synagogue dues. Some congregations set a fixed fee based on membership
   categories. Other congregations base dues on a small percentage (often
   2%) of one's income. There are two important factors to note about
   synagogue dues: (1) they are often less, overall, than the donations
   done in some churches that have a policy of tithing 10%; (2) they are
   often negotiable through the membership committee if one is unable to
   pay, and such negotiation are kept private. People are not turned away
   because of ability to pray.
   
   It is important to note, however, that you do not have to be a member
   of a synagogue in order to worship there. If you plan to worship at a
   synagogue regularly and you have the financial means, you should
   certainly pay your dues to cover your fair share of the synagogue's
   costs, but no synagogue checks membership cards at the door (except
   possibly on the High Holidays mentioned above, if there aren't enough
   seats for everyone).
   
   Synagogues are, for the most part, independent community
   organizations. Individual synagogues do not answer to any central
   authority. The various movements of Judaism do have organizations for
   their synagogues, but these organizations have no real power over each
   synagogue (the synagogue can always go independent).

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Worship, Conversion, Intermarriage (5/12)
Previous Document: Question 9.8: What will I find in a synagogue?
Next Document: Question 9.10: What functions does a synagogue serve?

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