By Niamh Whelan
Membership dues or not?
Rabbi Misha likened synagogues to business organizations because their budgets are based on annual membership dues and they are autonomous in how they are run. Membership dues vary from temple to temple: the current average in Chicago is approx. $2500-$3000 per year/per family. In addition to membership dues, contributions are usually expected for the building fund and for tuition in the supplementary school (*$250-$350/year). Admittance to high holy holidays is also on a ticket only basis and is not included in the annual dues. However revenue from these events is not usually a huge part of the annual budget.
While there are no formal annual dues to belong to a parish, there are 2 weekly collections at every Mass and depending on the parish, a weekly alms collection. In St. Raymond’s, 40% of all loose change in the collections goes to a charity or cause that the parish has agreed upon.
Who contributes the most?
The biggest contributors in both faiths are those with families. On the Jewish side, families pay for tuition for each of their children in the supplementary school. On the Catholic side, while St. Raymonds parish provides a $750 sponsorship, the families also pay for tuition (there’s a discounted tuition rate if you commit a certain amount per year to the overall parish fund).Does either religion tell you how to vote? Or who the “right candidate” is?
Who owns what?
On the Catholic side, all parish buildings and lands are ultimately owned by the Archdiocese and not by the individual parish. It is however the responsibility of the parish to maintain the property and grounds. On the Jewish side, the temple building is essentially owned by the congregation. If the congregation closes down, the building is sold and the funds are used to pay off any debts before the remainder is returned to the congregation.
The bottom line is that money is critical for both religions to continue to grow and thrive. So next time that collection box comes around or the annual dues are payable, dig deep and let’s keep the faiths alive!
Our tangent of the night - how are the performances of priests and rabbis evaluated?
Pastors are assigned by the Archdiocese for a period of 6 years (renewable for a second term). Reviews are conducted every 6 years – with input from both parish staff and 100 parishioners who complete an anonymous questionnaire. Every priest is also assigned a more senior mentor to help guide them through their parish work.
Rabbis are hired (and can be fired) by the board of the temple. There is usually a formal interview process where several rabbis “compete” for the same role. Rabbis are paid a salary and in some cases can get tenure at a temple.