The Opinion piece, “When Judaism Becomes Kmart” (Oct. 4), by Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, echoed many of my own sentiments regarding the plethora of “garage” and “pop-up” synagogues cropping up on the North Shore of Long Island.
I am a very active member of a struggling, Conservative synagogue that is suffering from many of the same issues as
others that, unfortunately, were forced to either close their doors or merge
with another synagogue.
Our small community on Long Island is facing the challenges of changing demographics as Rabbi Salkin notes. What we don’t need is more competing synagogues vying for a shrinking Jewish population. To the contrary, what the existing Jewish institutions in our area should do is join forces to encourage young Jewish families to move into our community for its vibrant Jewish life, stellar school district, excellent real estate and other positive attractions, instead of “undermining” each other. To this end, we have made strides recently in connecting with other local Jewish institutions to conduct well-attended and successful joint programming and social action activities and will continue these efforts. And we have revamped our religious school with an innovative model delivering education in a fresh, engaging way.
I beseech Rabbi Salkin and other detractors to not criticize synagogues like mine that are evolving to secure our survival and maintain our dignity, spirituality and vitality. Instead, they should have a little rachmones [empathy], and recognize the enormity of our challenges and acknowledge and support our efforts to retain our identity and standing in the community.
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