Synagogues are hurting Judaism in America: Obligation to pay high synagogue dues in US contributing to decline of American Jewry
Rabbi Levi Brackman
...As a former congregational rabbi I can understand why synagogue membership in America as it currently stands is in decline. In the UK, most synagogues membership comes together with Jewish burial rights. So although people may attend only once a year, they nonetheless feel that their payments are going towards something tangible. In the United States, however, it is a different story.
Not only does synagogue membership not come with burial rights, but the dues are also generally much higher than those in the UK. Whereas dues at the synagogue in London of which I was the rabbi were equivalent to $600 a year for a couple, most synagogues in the US have yearly memberships which start at about $1,200 dollars per annum.
For a club which is used only once or twice a year that is a lot of money to pay. Yom Kippur is a time for introspection, not just on the part of laypeople but on the part of communal leaders as well.
Congregational leaders and rabbis have a tendency to demand that their congregants and members make more commitments to the synagogue, and they are right to do so. At the same time, however, they must ask themselves whether these financial demands are not preventing people from joining a synagogue.
Ynet reported in 2007 that a synagogue think tank group in Minnesota had come up with a startling conclusion. High synagogue dues may be the reason that fewer Jews affiliate. Well!