An embarrassing disgrace
Gabe Kahn's front page article “Losing their appeal?” (Oct. 6) on the synagogues’ appeal for money at High Holy Day time is no doubt timely and relevant. It is understood that it does take a lot of money for any house of worship to thrive and that fund-raising is essential.
Fund-raising at High Holy Day time and the Kol Nidrei appeal in particular are fraught with potential pitfalls. I was a member of a Conservative synagogue in Union County that conducted a yearly Kol Nidrei appeal that began with a committee making solicitation phone calls to all congregants leading up to Yom Kippur. They however took it one step further, for on Yom Kippur itself the service was stopped and the appeal chair rose to the bima to announce what the collection was for the year. Additionally, he would then read off the names of those who donated at some of the higher levels and then apologize that in the interest of time, not all givers could be mentioned by name.
To me, this exercise was an embarrassing disgrace of the highest magnitude. I confronted the powers that be at the synagogue and was told that this announcing of names and donation amounts was done because congregants were likely to give more if they knew their names would be read publicly. So, on arguably the holiest day of the year, at a time when we are asking forgiveness for our sins, this synagogue indulged one of the seven deadly ones just to bring in a few more bucks. This yearly episode was one of the several reasons I am no longer a member of this particular synagogue. There's got to be a better way.