The Jewish Consumer

If you are Jewish and not a member of a congregation it can be difficult to navigate milestones in Jewish life. I’m starting a new category of blog entry for such occasions, and I am going to make at least one post weekly on “Jewish Consumer” topics.

I will confess right up front to some mixed feelings about this. It seems very odd and borderline inappropriate to talk about “consumerism” and Judaism, but I am asked often enough about these matters that I think it is worth doing.

I have a rather strong bias, and I’m going to deal with it in my first post, “Choosing Synagogue Membership.”

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

3 thoughts on “The Jewish Consumer”

  1. Speaking of congregations, I have a question: On the membership application for a Conservative temple, why would they ask your blood type? I thought science had proven there really is no specific “Jewish” blood type? It puzzled me. But then again, this temple requires at least $25K per year in membership dues, I have heard.

    I did check very recently and they took the blood type question off the membership application. Now, they’re using that space to ask for even more detailed financial info from prospective members. (If you thought the IRS was something! WOW.) I realize it takes a great deal of money to run a flourishing temple, especially when you have a lot of beneficial programs, and it’s vital that the money is there on a consistent basis, but that seemed to be the main emphasis of this shul. Those in their chapter of Hadassah are responsible annually for almost $100K in fund raising.

    It all scared me off, but there are other Conservative temples who are not as hung up on those two factors — and they’re closer to where I live. πŸ™‚

    1. Interesting. To your various questions and points:

      – I have no idea why the form inquired about blood type – you’re right, there is no “Jewish blood type.”
      – I have never heard of a congregation with dues as high as $25K.
      – I would suggest that anytime there’s something on a form that makes you uncomfortable, the thing to do is (1) ask about it and (2) if you don’t like the answer, don’t sign up.

      Every congregation is different. I hope that you were able to find one that felt comfortable to you.

      1. Thank you, Rabbi. I always appreciate your time and your response.

        I think a lot of it has to do with the board’s seeing a stark change in demographics at that shul.

        The younger generation can’t do as much, because they’re starting families. The elder generation is looking at increased costs in areas they didn’t anticipate, which means they have to be less generous financially. It’s as if the temple is caught in between, much like “the sandwich generation” of needing to raise your children and assume increased care for your elderly parents.

        I did find a temple that’s comfortable, thank you. It was worth the wait and the search. πŸ™‚

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