Friday, August 18, 2006

The Tickets Are in the Mail

Mailing out tickets to an event means it’s probably going to happen. Stuffing tickets into stamped envelopes last night was the first tangible evidence that the High Holy Day services at Temple Micah are on track for just a few weeks from now. Most of those families who have paid 1/3 of their dues will soon receive their HHD tickets in the mail.

Dues? Tickets? Those words didn’t figure into my WASP upbringing in the Bible belt of the Deep South. We made pledges and passed the plate at every service to bring in the revenue. No one was ever asked for a ticket at the Christmas Eve or Easter sunrise service, although people of color were denied entrance.

Aside for huge theological differences, the concepts of dues and tickets were the biggest fundamental changes I discovered when I converted to Judaism. Most congregations have a sliding dues requirement, based on a family’s ability to pay. At Temple Micah, those who are 1/3 compliant receive their HHD tickets at no charge. Anyone else who wants to attend these services that mark the most important days of the year must pay a considerable price to gain entrance. All Jews understand that this is just the way it works.

I have found that it’s really nice not to think about money in connection to weekly services. There are no envelopes for your weekly tithe. There are no ushers passing plates. The subject of money is simply not mentioned. Only this one time a year does it matter whether you are a dues-paying member.

I feel so totally responsible for all operations connected to the HHDs at Temple Micah. When I came home I found myself pulling out my own tickets to make sure there were no typos. I found myself worrying that we might have made a mistake and given some family the wrong number of tickets.

Then I said to myself, for heaven’s sake! You have a chairperson for ticket distribution. Let him feel responsible. Move yourself on to all the other minutiae yet to be sorted out and done in the next 5 weeks. And there is plenty.

The tickets are in the mail and the show will go on...


Blogger Old Lady said...

I don't agree with that. No one should be charged to attend a worship service.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

It's really no different than asking people to pledge an amount they will pay for the year and having them drop an envelope in the collection plate each week. The reality is that it costs a lot of money to operate any religious organization. There's upkeep on a building and the electic bills and staff to pay. It's just like a business in many ways. TM would never turn away someone who could not afford to pay. There are probably many tickets provided at no charge. The money matters are not part of my job so all I know is when I can send out their tickets. It's just a different way of doing business and one I have come to love and appreciate.

1:21 PM  
Blogger concernedabouttheworld said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Whew! This last comment makes me wish I had never written this post. My point of explanation to OL was that NO religious organization can exist solely on the good will of the members of the congregation. Episcopalians, Catholics, Jews, whatever, all need member support to exist. Ministers must earn a living, just as rabbis and music directors do. Mortgages on churches or synagogues must be paid. At the services during the other 50 weeks of the year, no one needs a ticket to attend and no one is ever asked for a red cent! It's only Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that require a ticket. It's just a gentle reminder that we do need to provide some monetary support for our congregation. Frankly, mentions of money lenders and greed give me the creeps! My congregation is about as generous to the poor and disadvantaged of the world as anyone could ever imagine. I thought of deleting the last comment, but would rather let my readers see what I am responding to. It unfortunately represents a misunderstanding that is not isolated to this person.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

The war in the middle east has brought antisemitism out of the closet again. A few years ago, it was still thought rude to be antisemetic, but now it's in style again. This is how it always begins. If I were you, Barbara, I would erase that comment, asap.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Am not sure antisemitism has ever been "in the closet." I thought your response to the commenter was to the point, B, but if you choose to eradicate the comment, I would certainly understand. People like this go searching for blogs to spill forth their venom.


9:32 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

The comment is gone, but I am deeply shaken by the fact that some people think like that. What a way to celebrate Shabbat!

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

Barbara: I continue to enjoy your blog, and my tickets arrived today! I too had a difficult time with the dues thing when I converted. It is a more efficient way to run an organization, but I think members should spend more time thinking about the meaning of their monetary contributions.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Personally, I'm always more leery of institutions (religious and not) that hide or try and mask or soft-pedal financial concerns and issues. When finances are a taboo or discouraged topic, it seems the taboo is usually in place to benefit those in power or with privilege,

As a result, I've always appreciated how Micah (and most other temples) openly explain and cover the costs of the added financial burden of the High Holy Days, which in Micah' case involves renting out additional space and assistance to cover the temporary enormous influx of members and nonmembers alike. Moreover, I appreciate that the system helps make sure that the burden is fairly shared.

As for anti-semitism, golly, if only it ever were in the closet. But I agree with Reya that the recent conflict has made things even worse. I'm sorry that it even managed to creep it's way into your blog's comments. Ugh!

2:34 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

John -- Thanks for the insightful comments. It all now makes so much sense to me that I am amazed when others are at all critical. I now am starting to appreciate the added expense burden for Micah since I am making arrangements to rent huge numbers of chairs and move things from Micah to our HHD home at the MMUMC and back again. It's a real production in order to accommodate all those who come to services. I've never heard of a person who was turned away or who complained about the cost as a non-member. Most are just so happy to have a loving congregation with which to join for this important season. Many non-members then end up joining Micah after the HHDs when they see what we are all about. Be sure to stop by the choir area and say hello!

8:32 PM  

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