Help Synagogues, Don’t Criticize Them
Wed, 10/09/2013

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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