Concrete benefits of membership include voting on our budget and other weighty matters, participation in
our Hebrew School, ability to lead our sacred committees, having life cycle events facilitated by our spiritual
leader in our synagogue, and reduced cost of plots in our cemetery. One board member offered that she is
a member not because of what she gains, but because of what membership enables her to give to others.
Many of you have already stated your annual commitment to membership by submitting your membership
form and dues. Thank you. Membership commitment means ensuring Jewish presence not just through
your much-needed financial support but, equally as important, through your participation. It is a way of
saying "I will help meet the needs of the community"—whether through attending services to ensure we can
say communal prayers, voicing an opinion, attending a class, joining in social action, visiting those who are
ill or home-bound, tending our building and grounds, or in some other way. Giving of ourselves—our time,
our energy—brings personal gifts beyond measure.
For many of us, BAJC offers a Jewish experience very different from that of our youth, where perhaps we
were put off by the favors showed to those able to give more financially—where aliyot, the best seats,
dinner with the Rabbi, and other honors were given based on the amount of money a person contributed.
BAJC strives to make everyone feel welcome. We hope our inclusiveness leads people to feel they belong
here, to take on some aspect of tending the needs of our community. Is it possible we are inclusive to the
point of making membership meaningless? I do not think so!
For some of us, there is no question of whether or not to belong: we feel responsible for having a Jewish
congregation present to support Jews during the fragile times of birth, coming of age, loss, illness, marriage,
and death; to educate ourselves, our children, and the larger community about Jewish customs and
wisdom; to ensure maintenance of our Jewish cemetery; and to provide opportunities for prayer.
Some of us hesitate to join because financial dues are weighed in the balance of other wonderful
organizations to which we can donate the limited money we're able to give. When so many of us have
interfaith families, it may be difficult to choose the Jewish community over endeavors in which we are
involved with our non-Jewish spouses. The notion of 'dues' and a set amount we are asked to give can
make this choice more difficult.
I have spoken with people as they struggle through a problem with the way BAJC has behaved or handled a
decision, causing them to weigh whether they are able to make a commitment—to say unequivocally, "I am
a member of this community." I am profoundly grateful for these discussions and for the wrestling that
represents the deep concern people have about our mission. I hope that in these cases, BAJC has shown
equal concern and a commitment to act with integrity.
In what ways do you wrestle when considering BAJC membership? What brings you joy at BAJC? What
might you do that would increase your pride in BAJC? I'd love to talk with you about these things.