Debunking Synagogues Myths
It’s always the right time to belong to a synagogue. The synagogue—one of Judaism’s most ancient institutions—continues to provide for the spiritual, communal and educational needs of every generation of Jews. That’s what this is all about: your Jewish connection! Perhaps you or someone you know is waffling about whether to join, stuck on one of the many myths about synagogue life. Let’s go through a few of them:
Myth #1: There’s no place for me. I’m not even sure I believe in God.
There have always been differences of opinion regarding belief and practice in our tradition. The meaning of the word Israel is to “struggle with God.” The synagogue provides a safe, supportive atmosphere in which to engage in that struggle and explore one’s spiritual needs. Most of all, synagogue life provides a strong community to help you sustain your connection to Judaism and pass the torch of the Torah to future generations.
- Myth #2: Synagogues are only for families, not for singles like me.
It is true that synagogues have many family-oriented programs, but that does not mean that they are only for families. Aside from youth programs and religious schools, many synagogues have women’s groups, adult education seminars, leadership opportunities, social justice programs and, of course, worship experiences. The synagogue’s task is to enhance your connection with other Jews and your personal search for meaning.
- Myth #3: Why should I join now? My child is not yet ready for religious school.
It is never too soon to be a part of the Jewish community. While we often think that synagogues are around to “teach Judaism” to our children, there is so much more. Synagogues provide ongoing opportunities to study, experience and enjoy being connected to a Jewish community. As for children, most synagogues offer preschool programs as an important component in children’s development. The synagogue provides a safe, nurturing place to help your children develop key skills, as well as to create an enriching Jewish atmosphere for them and for you.
- Myth #4: It costs a fortune to join a synagogue!
Reform synagogues are committed to every Jew who desires to be part of a congregation. A Jewish sage once said that “the gates of prayer are always open.” Reform synagogues have promised to keep their gates open and inclusive to all. Hand in hand with this idea follows another: that “all Jews are responsible for one another.” That is why synagogue leaders set up a fair dues structure—so that the vital ongoing services and programs continue to serve the entire community.
Why join a a synagogue? Rabbi Eric Yoffie, former president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said, “Jews have depended on synagogues for centuries as the place for spiritual nourishment and a sense of community. There we not only learn the rich traditions and language of our people, but how to fill our lives with meaning so that each and every one of us can impact our world for good.” Use our tool to find a Reform congregation near you and start your Jewish journey at a synagogue that will become your spiritual home.
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