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DONNAEDA's Photo DONNAEDA Posts: 30,939
1/6/15 5:53 P

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There are several reform and conservative shuls in Milwaukee that did not collect dues this year. Ours was not one of these. We still got a bill and we paid it without complaint. I am active in the synagogue and attend many of the educational classes offered. As long as we can afford it we will continue to pay our fair share.

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IFDEEVARUNS2's Photo IFDEEVARUNS2 Posts: 11,481
1/6/15 11:33 A

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Fascinating.

Dee
Houston, TX

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BOSS61's Photo BOSS61 Posts: 7,002
1/6/15 11:27 A

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Proving that absolutely anything can be found on the internet, providing one uses Google with effectiveness and aplomb, behold rabbi compensation guidelines from the clueless Ivory Tower:

uscj.org/Objects/Documents/guide_con
tr
actual_relations.pdf


"Some day we will look back on this, and it will all seem funny" - Bruce Springsteen (The real BOSS, as opposed to me.)





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IFDEEVARUNS2's Photo IFDEEVARUNS2 Posts: 11,481
1/6/15 11:11 A

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SAK05261, as I mentioned, we do not have a building.

BOSS61, the rabbi's salary is (and should be) an issue. I suspect in our case that during the first year it was funded by the aforementioned donors.

As for expecting a central body like the URJ to help in negotiations, they sure didn't help my daughter when she was offered a senior rabbi position at her congregation (not the one I belong to.) She had to resort to talking to a lawyer before her congregation would offer her a package commensurate to one they would have offered an outsider coming in.

Yes, they have expenses. And also to the point, their job can sometimes be 24/7. They are always on call.

Edited by: IFDEEVARUNS2 at: 1/6/2015 (11:12)
Dee
Houston, TX

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BOSS61's Photo BOSS61 Posts: 7,002
1/6/15 11:04 A

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More on the topic of dues, rabbi salaries and compensation packages: Rabbis do have expenses. They have training, out-of-pocket costs associated with community endeavors and the like. They also have health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, which (directly or indirectly) are paid by the congregation. Whether the rabbi is a salaried employee or a 1099 contractor, costs are costs and a portion of costs is salary.

The typical rabbi, even if a 1099 employee, probably finds that most of the compensation package does go to salary. And the issue is that the structure for such strategies is established in some Manhattan office providing one-sided guidelines, wholly removed from the realities of the synagogue in question.

The link to the article about pastor compensation was interesting in that it suggested that appropriate compensation should reflect the mean of the membership. Rest assured that at our former synagogue (the one with the ship metaphor), the rabbi compensation exceeded the mean of the membership.

"Some day we will look back on this, and it will all seem funny" - Bruce Springsteen (The real BOSS, as opposed to me.)





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1/6/15 10:41 A

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When I left the temple I went to High Holiday services at another temple. You were able to purchase tickets. I was fine with that. Bought for myself and my children. A couple of years after that they said all are welcome and you did not have to pay for tickets. This is a smaller congregation. I do not pay dues, am not active, but I do donate when I can i.e, new HH prayerbooks are needed and they are asking for people to buy a book. I sponsored one and hope to do one or 2 more.

I don't know if I would even go for RH and YK if not for my children and grandchildren.

Naomi a/k/a Nomi
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1/6/15 10:33 A

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I have, unfortunately, that compensation package argument with people regularly. We live in an area that has a lot of self employed (called 1099 employees) who get paid a set fee (per day or hour) and pay all their own costs, so thats like getting a full compensation package (if they work full time for one company). But the whole thing is annoying. people tell me it doesnt cost the gov't (i live near dc) anything to employ them... what the what??!!??! i ask who pays for the building they're in, the heat, the computer they use. And then what about the gov'ts share of their health benefits or retirement match or unemployment insurance/workmens comp insurance (well govt may be self insurer). it opens their eyes. they think the stuff is just there. i was a contracting officer so we had to sometimes do a comparison of who costs less, with full package, a govt employee or a contractor. and while we might pay a contractor, say $200,000 a year, it doesnt go to that empoyee, some of it goes to the compensation package of their employer, and often that's cheaper than what it costs to have a gov't person do that job! but i digress. once they understand that they complain less about the "compensation package" for the Rabbi. We dont know her salary, we just know what it costs to employ her. so is she paid a living wage? i'm guessing so

but hte mutiny of which mark speaks - yes, it was not a money issue. but money is always an issue. it is a real need. and if we dont ask for what we need, will we get it by saying here are the costs? i just dont know and i am not willing to take that chance - that is what the Board is for.

NUMD97's Photo NUMD97 Posts: 10,520
1/6/15 10:12 A

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Granted, my mention of the diocese is Catholic. I went in search, then, of Protestant equivalents, and I found the following interesting, about pastors' salaries ( and the inherent discussion that that seemingly has provoked amongst Protestant institutions):

thomrainer.com/2012/12/17/five-thing
s-
you-should-know-about-pastors-salaries/


Apparently, we are not alone.

Edited by: NUMD97 at: 1/6/2015 (10:50)
Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do.
~ Goethe

Dare to dream.
~ Me


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BOSS61's Photo BOSS61 Posts: 7,002
1/6/15 10:09 A

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Yes, the politics are easier because the mutineers absconded with all of the food from the galley, all of the fuel for the engines, and did I mention the life preservers?

The issue of the rabbi's contract remains. The issue of the guidelines issued by the ignorant and wealthy in NYC remains. No one wants to upset or offend any rabbi and no one wants to purposefully pay one inadequately. At the same time, shuls must run with economic solvency or they will not exist.

I have surfed onto the web site of the synagogue featured in the Washington Post article. They appear to be alive and well enough to have a recent and active web presence. Hooray,.

Edited by: BOSS61 at: 1/6/2015 (10:27)
"Some day we will look back on this, and it will all seem funny" - Bruce Springsteen (The real BOSS, as opposed to me.)





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1/6/15 9:59 A

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Dee, do you have a building? how is ist paid for if so?
and the one about the diaocese - that's catholic. i dont think that other churches work the same way - at least not all. many are like shuls and stand on their own. i'd like to know how they do it.
but mark is right about my shul...but the politics are easier now...

IFDEEVARUNS2's Photo IFDEEVARUNS2 Posts: 11,481
1/6/15 9:37 A

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My synagogue doesn't have dues. Everyone who wants to 'belongs', and is encouraged to contribute/donate. Yes, there have been some generous donors who make it possible for the congregation to be set up (we're only a year old). The rest of us contribute what we feel is fair.
So far so good.
I'll be curious to see how well this model works over the long term.
This is working now while we're small, and meeting in a church. What happens if/when the congregation wants a brick and mortar home of its own?

BTW, our dues were valid deductions for tax purposes too.

Edited by: IFDEEVARUNS2 at: 1/6/2015 (09:37)
Dee
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NUMD97's Photo NUMD97 Posts: 10,520
1/6/15 9:28 A

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Interesting post, Mark. This has been a long-time argument in our house ("Pay to pray").

The churches are not a fair comparison, as they are centrally supported by the diocese, as I understand it, and each parish is not truly on its own, as a synagogue is.

Since the article is two years old, it would be interesting to see what the results are currently with this experiment.

Edited by: NUMD97 at: 1/6/2015 (10:01)
Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do.
~ Goethe

Dare to dream.
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BOSS61's Photo BOSS61 Posts: 7,002
1/6/15 8:22 A

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One of the largest costs that fledgling synagogues face, particularly those in outlying areas with small membership bases, is the salary of the rabbi. There is an umbrella organization (or more accurately, one for each major denomination of Judaism) that provides overall guidelines to synagogue boards in terms of how to structure and negotiate a rabbinical contract. You'd think this to be of benefit, as these large organizations have a wealth of experience and great expertise. Think again.

The organizations are based in the New York City metropolitan area and have little awareness of the stringent finances of small town synagogues and their membership. Two different synagogues in which we have been affiliated found themselves saddled with rabbinical contracts that flatly were unaffordable but also unbreakable. The salary ranges, fringe benefit structures, tenure-like conditions and the like was like a large iron boulder in the leaky rowboat. Lay leadership naively agreed, resigned and/or fired themselves and left successor boards to deal with the ugly aftermath of a financially up-side down circumstance.

One wonders how the synagogue in the article affords its rabbi. Just saying.

"Some day we will look back on this, and it will all seem funny" - Bruce Springsteen (The real BOSS, as opposed to me.)





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SPINNINGJW's Photo SPINNINGJW Posts: 1,574
1/6/15 8:03 A

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At our small Reform Congregation in the midwest, our "dues" are set by each family. There is a "suggested amount" chart, and a "minimum" of $300 a year. Of course, no one comes and hunts you down if you don't pay up, and based on recent comments from congregants, the President sent out a letter indicating the upcoming costs of some necessary building repairs. (We have an old historic building) From the report I heard, that garnered some income, as folks knew exactly what the money was needed for.

Unfortunately, due to my move about a year ago, I am not nearly as active as I used to be, nor as I would like.

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BOSS61's Photo BOSS61 Posts: 7,002
1/6/15 6:15 A

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Yours truly has been a synagogue board member at one time and the husband of one at another, which was an interesting exercise as an insider. It's been always frustrating and sometimes ugly.

Religious institutions do require real dollars to operate and oftentimes for many reasons in the modern era those dollars are in short supply. While the tax laws are kind to synagogues, churches, meeting halls, mosques and the like, none of those institutions are allowed to print their own Dead Presidents, however benevolent their intentions may be.

Usually it takes a few (or more), well-endowed and generous families to breach the gap between proceeds and expenses. If those donors do not exist in sufficient numbers and generosity, doors ultimately close.

Little is more contentious or disheartening than a synagogue board that knows it needs to cut expenses to meet inadequately low revenues - the "how" of it gets way too personal and mean-spirited way too often - and is antithetical to what a religious institution is supposed to be about. If you doubt me, join up as a Board Member and debate rabbinical contract renewals sometime. You will see.

Of course, we know personally of the experience SAK05261 writes about. We watched 30-odd families, who regarded themselves as the active "movers-and-shakers" of the place, mutiny over a dispute regarding (among other things) renewal of the rabbi's contact on issues of her style (and possibly her gender). Yes, you read that right. I said mutiny.

Solvency is hard enough to achieve as it is, without bifurcation of the membership on as trivial an issue of rabbinical style. Not compensation but style. Being unable to muster the votes to remove her, they removed themselves. Ugly does not begin to describe it. It's like they removed the watertight hatch from the submarine as they climbed into a lifeboat. We were and remain, beyond appalled at them for doing so.

Right now we're unaffiliated and glad of it. We miss the camaraderie but not the shul politics.

Edited by: BOSS61 at: 1/6/2015 (06:22)
"Some day we will look back on this, and it will all seem funny" - Bruce Springsteen (The real BOSS, as opposed to me.)





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1/5/15 10:04 P

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I find this really intriguing but very very very frightening. we are having trouble meeting our expenses as it goes now (we jsut had a bunch of old timers who were also the major givers make a new shul). i wonder if there was a year or two of it getting worse befdoe it gets better. i do kinda feel like if i wasnt already paying a monthly amount i might be giving more, but i do give. i believe in our shul and having a building (we used to be in an interfaith center and that was ..... interesting). ijust dont know. anyone else know of a place that had this experience?

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1/5/15 9:29 P

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Quite interesting. Actually that is why I left one temple that I had belonged to for over 20 years. I was quite active - Sisterhood Board, Chair of the Religious School, etc.. There were a few years I could not afford the dues and it was quite uncomfortable to ask for a reduction. The last time, was just awful. I was made to feel as if I was trying to get away with something. This person didn't know me. I just resigned. When I wrote a letter to rabbi and president of the congregation I told them exactly why I was leaving.

Ironically, I just had a discussion today with a friend who is not Jewish. She couldn't believe it. Not only did we have to pay dues we also had to buy a certain amount of "script". Gift cards to supermarkets that were in the program. If we didn't meet the amount at the end of the year we had to pay the difference.


Naomi a/k/a Nomi
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1/5/15 7:43 P

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By asking for donations, rather than dues, the money given becomes a tax donation!

BOSS61's Photo BOSS61 Posts: 7,002
1/5/15 7:32 P

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Intriguing Article in Today's Washington Post (all the news fit to print, for us Dixie MOTs):

www.washingtonpost.com/local/young-j
ew
s-rebelling-against-paying-dues/2013R>/01/18/0d28da6e-61a5-11e2-b05a-60552
8f
6b712_story.html?tid=pm_national_pop


"Some day we will look back on this, and it will all seem funny" - Bruce Springsteen (The real BOSS, as opposed to me.)





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