Temple Beth Orr of Coral Springs became the first Broward Reform congregation and possibly the only South Florida congregation to change the annual membership dues structure in favor of a voluntary financial commitment.
The new system will begin immediately for new members and be implemented July 2016 for all members of TBO.
According to TBO President Steve Feinstein and Executive Director Suzanne Andisman, a suggested sustaining financial commitment amount per household will be projected and shared with the Temple Beth Orr community.
Then, each household will pledge, at their own discretion, a voluntary financial commitment. This pledge will also include High Holy Days tickets and a personalized payment schedule. Supplemental programs such as preschool and religious school tuition are additional.
Temple Beth Orr offers programs for age groups, such as early childhood and youth activities, Brown Bag Torah study sessions, get social for the 20s, 30s, 40s and Fabulous Fifties age groups.
“Our goal is to offer the benefits and gratification of being part of a warm temple community to everyone, including those who thought they couldn’t ‘afford’ the cost of temple membership,” said Feinstein.
At a Union For Reform Judaism workshop last May titled “Engaging Jews Outside The Pews” attended by Feinstein and other representatives of South Florida Reform Jewish congregations, the main topic discussed was how congregations need to reach out to many demographic groups, such as empty nesters, intermarried couples, singles and the millennial generation. The Pew Study found that many of these demographic groups identify as Jews, but choose to be unaffiliated from congregational membership.
As reported in Jewish Journal, one of the changes discussed in the May workshop to reach out to the unaffiliated was for congregations to consider discarding the annual membership fee for a voluntary fee commitment.
“Even before the workshop, our committees were discussing the new approach we are taking at Temple Beth Orr for several months. The high number of Jews in Broward who identify as unaffiliated, combined with the release of a New York Jewish Federation SYNERGY report convinced us to move ahead with the voluntary fee commitment,” said Feinstein.
The 50-page SYNERGY report revealed that temples in Boston, New York and 23 more across the nation implemented a replacement for the mandatory annual Temple membership with positive results.
According to “New York Jewish Week,” the New York congregation that discarded its annual membership fee in 2014 had its membership increase from 150 to 220 families.
“It is very important to have families be involved with Jewish life in our community in Coral Springs at Temple Beth Orr,” said Andisman.
There is no guarantee that the voluntary fee commitment at Temple Beth Orr will be used beyond a designated time.
“We will be monitoring how the new system works monthly and evaluate the results. I look forward to a bright future for Temple Beth Orr,” said Feinstein.
For more information on membership at Temple Beth Orr, 2151 Riverside Dr. in Coral Springs, contact Suzanne Andisman at 954-753-3232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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