Check out this High Holiday video put out by Jewish Impact Films. In a much more comical way than I can describe here, the film depicts just how impossible it can be for the majority of Jews to “get into” the High Holidays.
Every year the best advertisement time for Jewish life is wasted on a High Holiday season that promotes high ticket prices (literally shutting many out of synagogues), meaningless prayer services (that put people to sleep), and boring State-of-the-Union-style speeches (that make people want to go back to reading the op-ed page).
Look, I understand what Rabbi Grossman is saying: Money– not love but money–is what turns the lights on in a building. That said, yes, in the short term, opening up our arms and trying a few new and different things may alienate some. But I think long-term the payoff would come around.
Jewish leadership should see the High Holidays as a time to give people a taste of Jewish life. How many people come once a year to synagogue, never to return? Its easy to put the blame on them: “Oh, they only come once a year.” But the more honest response is to examine what we are doing that makes them feel comfortable coming only once a year?