As a kid, I wasn't a big fan of any of the synagogue activities that my parents schlepped me to.  I hated Hebrew school, didn't particularly love services ( what kids does ), and really wasn't too fond of the community. 

Funny enough, fast forward to having my own kids, we will soon have 3 kids that will have been bar/bat mitzvahed ( I wasn't nor were any of my siblings ) and we are actually part of a synagogue where I like the community and have met a group of people that I enjoy and a variety of our friends from other parts of our life belong too.  Granted the kids aren't exactly embracing the whole thing but have no choice but we do talk about the connection they have with other Jews.  On the other hand, Fred grew up a Catholic and has embraced my desire to raise our kids Jews and the whole agenda.  We laugh sometimes that he might be the biggest Jew among us more in the stereotypical way than the religious sense. 

On Friday evening, Josh needed to participate in the evening as part of his community efforts towards his bar mitzvah this coming spring.  We went and he helped set up the Sukkot.  When I was a kid, I always loved the whole concept of Sukkot.  Building a structure as a group and then decorating the Sukkot.  Maybe it was the decorating part I liked – ha!  I think it was the fact that there really wasn't a service but just an activity.  It was a nice thing and it was a nice thing this past Friday night too.

Our temple, The New Shul,  just had their 10th anniversary.  They are hoping to grow the community and put out a very clever marketing piece that I got a good chuckle out of so I am going to share it today.

Top Ten Reasons I'll Never Ever Ever Join a Synagogue….

1.  I don't want to be a member of a synagogue, I just want it to be there when I need it. 

The New Shul is a grassroots community ( with lots of ant-institutional, non-joiner types!).  Without your membership support, we simply won't be here.

2.  I don't like services.

The New Shul is about lots more than services!  Our calendar is packed with many different kinds of events, programs, classes and spiritual experiences.  We're also exploring ways to redefine 'services."

3.  I hated Hebrew School.

Many of us were also turned off by Hebrew School.  That's why we created Rishonim for our kids.  Kids actually like it!  Come for a visit and you'll see why.

4.  I don't believe in God.

At the New Shul we're constantly questioning, grappling, doubting and exploring.  That's what keeps it interesting.

5.  I only go once a year anyway.

Once you become a member, you might be surprised to find that you come more often.

6. My wife/husband/partner isn't Jewish.

The New Shul welcomes everyone.  We're proud of the diversity within our membership – interfaith, single, gay, couples, straight families, reform, conservative, orthodox, reconstructionists, atheists…

7.  I don't like organized religion.

We're not that organized.

8.  I don't want my level of observance/non-observance to be judged by others.

We're not your parents' shul.  We don't follow any particular party line- we draw form many sources of Jewish tradition and create some pretty compelling ones of our own.

9. I'm spiritual but not religion…actually I'm culturally Jewish, but not into ritual…actually, i'm just not sure what being a Jew means in the 21st  century…

You'll feel right at home.

10.  I'm just not interested.

Are you so sure?  You're reading this, aren't you?

So, for any people who read this blog in Manhattan who are looking for something different.  Check it out.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awilensky

    I’m ex-orthodox, but still a believer in the deep, poignant philosophy of the Jewish religion. I participate in any service, at any shul. I like the authenticity of Orthodox and Chassidic communities, but I have friends that by nature of their relationships and background are more likely to be members of reform, conservative, and re constructionist.At any rate, even we baa’le teshuva are just starting to take the essential and and loosen up; if I told you the number of otherwise observant folks that have decided to drive to shul on the Shabbat – it’s just the way it is. we no longer all live in walkable communities. Big demographic leap, there. Hats off to all the Chabad Rabbis who get it.Fred, BTW, has a Yiddishe Kop.

  2. Doc McClenny

    I loved #7!”7. I don’t like organized religion.We’re not that organized.”

  3. chefbikram

    Love this post. Mostly for the idea that just because you think something at one point in life, doesn’t mean you can’t be open to change.I’m sure I’ve inquired, but did U read “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee”? I’m not Jewsish and LOVED this book as did my husband and MIL. I plan to read it again. I read it 2+ years ago — just before the birth of our daughter.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I have the book but have never cracked it open. Will move it to the frontof the ³reading² pile.

  4. jim forbes

    Even old lapsed Jews enjoy Sukkot. I put up my tie-dyed tent down in my fruit orchard in front of my house. I love seeing the stars at night through peach branches hanging from the edges of my tent. Oh, no southern CA sukkot meal is complete without avocados and a smoked brisket.Peace,jim

  5. ryan

    I see you got second place for your brisket. So, are you going to share your recipe? And if you already have, can you post it again?Thank you in advance,Ryan

      1. ryan

        Thank you. I look forward to trying it.

  6. Laura Baum

    I’m a rabbi – and this description sounds a bit like the independent congregation I work at (Beth Adam in Cincinnati, OH). I’m also the rabbi of the world’s first progressive online synagogue – – bringing Judaism to people where they are. There are so many people who have not yet found a home in the organized Jewish community. Many Jews are looking for something contemporary. That’s why we’re using the tools of modernity and encouraging people to participate in the continuing evolution of Judaism. It’s quite exciting!