Elsewhere online
February 02, 2015

In Funding Rethink, Synagogues Test Voluntary Dues Policy

A small but growing number of Jewish congregations are switching from mandatory membership dues to a "pay what you want" system, writes The New York Times. The nascent trend, documented in a new study by the UJA-Federation of New York, marks the first systematic rethinking of synagogue financing since the dues system gained currency a century ago.

While dues—typically around 1 percent to 2.5 percent of income, depending on a member's age and family size—remain firmly entrenched among Orthodox Jews, about 30 Conservative, Reform, and independent synagogues now allow congregants to pledge what they can. All but a handful made the switch in the last five years, reflecting what experts say is a broader change as congregations age and growing secularization affects Jews' relationships with communal organizations.