Ask!

For the week ending 31 August 2002 / 23 Elul 5762

Synagogue fees

The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Paying For Praying

John from Sweden wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Synagogue fees: Is it in accordance with Jewish law to take fees from local Jews just to attend the synagogue?


Dear John,

It is certainly the accepted norm to pay a membership fee to the synagogue in which one prays.

First of all, paying fosters a stronger sense of communal spirit; when a person pays for something, he comes to value it more than had he received it for free. Paying a synagogue fee tends to make a person feel more a part of the community.

But on a practical note, synagogues have tremendous expenses: Books, rent or mortgage, electricity, heat, water, furniture, cleaning supplies, structural maintenance, salaries, social services, etc. Who is supposed to pay for it all, if not the people who avail themselves of the synagogue's services? Even if charitable donors pay for many of these costs, why shouldn't each participant also contribute to the remaining costs according to his/her ability?

(Note: The above is a general description of the appropriateness of paying synagogue fees; it isn't a definitive ruling regarding any specific case. Rulings in such matters should be sought from a rabbi or adjudicating body (beit din) personally familiar with the claims of both parties.)

Sources:
Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 163:1

© 1995-2014 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to Ask!

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) and your donation is tax deductable.