A couple of weeks ago I posted a listed of reasons to join a shul. My #1 reason? It’s not going to get any better without you. But what if you’re starting to wonder whether it can get any better, even with you?
We’ve been members of the same synagogue for almost as long as we’ve lived here. I’ve held various teaching positions there, and run several family programs as a volunteer. Our younger daughter was named there, I celebrated the release of my first picture book there, and I go there to say kaddish for my father. For a home-shuler, I’m fairly attached to my shul. I can live with the lackluster services, not enough children’s programming, ugly wood panelling and even uglier turquoise carpet. It’s like a quirky uncle who wears leisure suits and tells bad jokes – he’s tolerable, and even kind of charming. But what if he unexpectedly punched someone in the nose. Wouldn’t we stop visiting?
Last week, two staff members were treated in a way that I found extremely troubling. I emailed the presidents of the board, and when their response didn’t feel satisfactory, I went to the board meeting last night to speak out against their handling of these personnel matters. It made me feel a little better to speak up, but in the end, it didn’t change a thing and no one responsible expressed any regret.
So now I face a dilemma. Do I continue our family’s membership, even though at this moment it feels very distasteful to write a check to the institution? Or do I resign on principal, even though it’s the only game in town in my denomination-of-choice (and we live right around the corner?)
Has there ever been a time when you considered leaving a shul on principle? And in the end – did you, or didn’t you?Please share your stories and maybe I can learn from your wisdom.