November 11, 2005

Published November 11, 2005, issue of November 11, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Cost of Free Tickets

Opinion writer Diana Furchtgott-Roth says that churches have open-door policies on Christmas and Easter (“High Holy Days Ticket Prices Are Costing Community,” November 4). That is true. But she leaves out the part that churches have many more members to support their activities than synagogues. A good-sized synagogue will have several hundred membership units, whereas a good sized church will have several thousand. Numbers make a big difference when paying for the clergy, the building, the other staff, the teachers and the programs. In additions, many churches have a tradition of volunteers that take on many of these responsibilities; synagogues don’t.

Furchtgott-Roth also states that “High Holy Day seats provide a major source of funds.” Maybe in some synagogues they do, but in those that I have worked in or belonged to, the largest source of operating funds is dues. Selling tickets to outsiders make up less than 1% of the budgets of the synagogues I know.

She then combines fund-raising appeals with ticket sales. Ticket sales ensure that people who do not wish to join the synagogue and financially support it pay something toward the upkeep. Fund-raising appeals, on the other hand, are geared toward the membership. They know this tradition is going to happen, and expect to give in the annual Kol Nidre Appeal. To combine them as if both are required for a non-member to attend services is ignorant. As to the dent in the budget, think of how solvent synagogues would be if those that ask for a free ride would actually join and pay their share. That would be a great day.

For those who think, as Furchtgott-Roth writes, “that the cost of joining a synagogue… is an extravagance,” let me assure them it is not. First, every synagogue has a dues relief procedure for those who truly cannot afford dues. Second, joining a synagogue is not an extravagance, it is an obligation. It is an above-the-line activity like rent, mortgage, food and electricity.

What would happen if free High Holy Day tickets were offered? I am afraid that those synagogues would cease to exist. Their three-day-a-year members would resign and non-committed Jews would not join, because why should they pay dues when they can get what they want for free?

Lawrence Berman

Westfield, N.J.

Miscolored Bundists

In an October 28 review of Israel Epstein’s “My China Eye: Memoirs of a Jew and a Journalist,” Gal Beckerman writes that “the communism arrived with the mother’s milk” (“Seeing Red”). The comment may sound cute, but it hardly squares with the politics of Izzy’s Bundist parents, who were dedicated Social Democrats and Yiddishists all their lives.

Lasar and Sonia Epstein were important and respected leaders of the Jewish community in Tianjin, China, until they, along with my parents, left for the United States after the Japanese invasion of 1937. Lasar was the first president of the Jewish Club Kunst in Tianjin, while Sonia always seemed to know who in the community needed help, and was frequently able to find someone who would provide the help.

In New York, Lasar was an active member of the Workmen’s Circle and the Jewish Labor Committee, and was particularly involved with trying to provide succor for the Jewish remnant in Europe. He also provided a weekly Yiddish radio program of news and comments on WEVD.

I wasn’t quite 12 when we left Tianjin to return to the United States, but Izzy’s parents and mine were close friends from the 1920s to the end of their lives. Nor was that our only familial tie: Izzy’s first wife was my sister, Edith.

After leaving China in 1937, I visited only once, in 2000. I was certainly impressed. Even the poorest coolies were decently dressed, and the open sewer in Tianjin had been covered over. One could even see to the bottom of the Hai He, a river that used to be brown with mud and who knows what else.

Martin Bihovsky Bates

Kenmore, N.Y.

Please address letters intended for publication to the editor of the Forward, 45 East 33rd Street, New York, NY 10016, and provide your name, address and telephone number. Letters may be wired via fax to (212) 447-6406 or via electronic mail to letters@forward.com (please include street address in e-mails). Shorter letters stand a better chance of being printed. Letters may be edited for space and style.






Find us on Facebook!
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.