Should High Holiday Tickets Be Free?

Sue Fishkoff, the JTA correspondent who focuses on Jewish identity and affiliation, has just launched a new blog. Her first entry raises the question whether High Holiday tickets should be free. I posted this response:

I understand both sides of this issue. As a former synagogue president, I know what it costs to run a synagogue, that synagogues depend on member to pay dues to cover those costs, and that many members, for better or worse, attend primarily on the High Holy Days.

On the other hand, as president of, I know that the high cost of synagogue membership is a serious obstacle to the goal of having interfaith couples raise their children as Jews which synagogue membership definitely fosters.

I am in favor of free tickets a first year, free initial memberships, gradual dues increases, fair share dues systems, and other strategies to encourage synagogue membership. And it may take seating non-members later or “in the back” as a reasonable compromise that lets members enjoy a benefit of membership without excluding those who want to attend.

This post originally appeared on and is reprinted with permission