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Bee

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PostSubject: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:15 am

Since most of you are x-christians you can relate to my question: My husband is attending Torah/Talmud classes at an Orthodox Shul, tonight he was the only student for this particular teacher. No one has told him about giving a financial contribution for these classes. No one has been chasing his wallet asking for his 10% ,plus charity, plus offerings, plus church group support. We have no clue if he is supposed to give, there was a tzedakah box before classes started. There are other classes at the same time but are all full, so my husband could not see if others gave the Rabbi's money or what the proper thing to do. We have a Tzedakah box at home we used for charities or donations towards the rebuilding of the temple, is that money for this purpose? My husband did not want to hand the teacher money in fear to insult him or being in error. Do they split the donation box between the rabbis and teachers? I don't want to be in error for not giving or be in error for giving money?
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:19 am

Bee wrote:
Since most of you are x-christians you can relate to my question: My husband is attending Torah/Talmud classes at an Orthodox Shul, tonight he was the only student for this particular teacher. No one has told him about giving a financial contribution for these classes. No one has been chasing his wallet asking for his 10% ,plus charity, plus offerings, plus church group support. We have no clue if he is supposed to give, there was a tzedakah box before classes started. There are other classes at the same time but are all full, so my husband could not see if others gave the Rabbi's money or what the proper thing to do. We have a Tzedakah box at home we used for charities or donations towards the rebuilding of the temple, is that money for this purpose? My husband did not want to hand the teacher money in fear to insult him or being in error. Do they split the donation box between the rabbis and teachers? I don't want to be in error for not giving or be in error for giving money?

He should just ask if it is not clear.

At my shul I pay for shul membership and classes have a 2 tier cost. Member and non member. The Torah class is free. But it is very clear what we need to pay for and what we don't.

When I converted my Rabbi did not charge me anything to work with her but after the conversion I made a donation to her foundation.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:36 am

He is not a member but we will be attending off and on for the next year so, nonconverts can pay for membership? I guess he can call the office or Rabbi, he asked last time but was told he did not have to pay for dinner that day ($18) and did not answer his question regarding the classes. A tzedakah box was passed around before the evening started, he didnt know if that was for the dinner or class fees. It is a busy time for the Rabbi and he could not talk to him because the Rabbi's class was full and he had to take a class that was open. The Teacher was great and spoke little english, he taught my hubby new Hebrew words (my hubby was his only student) all other classes were full. They had Torah and Talmudic discussions and said next time my husband comes he will have a copy of his lesson in english Very Happy .
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:41 am

Quote :
When I converted my Rabbi did not charge me anything to work with her but after the conversion I made a donation to her foundation.
I don't understand what you mean? Foundation? Like a charity foundation in her name? Sorry I am not familiar with shul related things.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:49 am

Bee wrote:
Quote :
When I converted my Rabbi did not charge me anything to work with her but after the conversion I made a donation to her foundation.
I don't understand what you mean? Foundation? Like a charity foundation in her name? Sorry I am not familiar with shul related things.

The Rabbi I worked with is unaffiliated and has a Community Rabbi Foundation that allows her along with other Rabbis to reach out to unaffiliated Jews.

I am a member of a lay led unaffiliated community and a Reform Temple.
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esf

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:56 am

Tricky situation, but if a Tzedekah box was handed around I would certainly put something in it. In my experience, as non-Jews you would not be expected/allowed to pay for membership , but you should ask the Rabbi directly about this. Also, at most synagogues you can donate to a particular area of the synagogue, for example, directly to a particular Rabbi's discretionary fund.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:25 am

Ok, I will check the website see if anything similiar to what you guys said. Hopefully the Rabbi gets back to him. I think its so ingrane in me to give, my last pastor would greet me then ask if I had given my tithes and offerings or reminds me if I had forgotten. Every Sunday was like guilt trips to Brokeville lol!
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:43 am

Bee wrote:
Ok, I will check the website see if anything similiar to what you guys said. Hopefully the Rabbi gets back to him. I think its so ingrane in me to give, my last pastor would greet me then ask if I had given my tithes and offerings or reminds me if I had forgotten. Every Sunday was like guilt trips to Brokeville lol!

WOW. I've never heard of a Pastor acting like that! Anyway, I'd look around the website if they have one and then ask questions. Even if the class doesn't require payment you could give a little Some Rabbis have a discretionary fund they use for various expenses. Since it's an Orthodox shul you would not be able to become members but maybe they have some sort of other option.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: fees are not tzedaka   Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:54 am

Different shuls do things differently with respect to membership and event and class fees. You should probably talk to the staff who takes care of financial aspects of the synagogue to find out about things like class fees. For sure, as non-Jews, you cannot be members in an Orthodox shul. There may or may not be fees for classes. At my sponsoring rabbi's shul, most classes do not cost anything---they are covered by the membership fees (about $2500/yr for families who do not qualify for young family or new member discounts) and special education funds that people can donate to. I have attended some classes since we let our membership lapse when my "tiny minyan" switched affiliations because we could no longer rent the room in the former building of the shul that merged with the other one and we needed a space within walking distance for members who don't drive on Shabbat. When I take classes or go to special presentations at that shul, I make a donation to the appropriate fund, particularly the education fund that was established in the name of my rabbi's late wife (who was a Bible professor).

If the shul where you are taking classes does not charge for them, then I think it would be the right thing to make a donation to the shul of an amount that you think appropriate. The shul is likely to have something like an "education fund" just for that purpose. It is a tradition in Jewish communities to celebrate or honor someone's memory or acknowledge thanks by donating money to various causes including the synagogue, so most synagogues have various "funds" for that purpose (prayer book repair fund, Jewish summer camp scholarship fund, shul library book fund, etc). There are typically notes in the shul newsletter saying that so-and-so donated money to a particular fund on the occasion of the birth of another congregant's grandchild, or in memory of someone who died, or in appreciation for help from the congregation when someone was ill, etc. It's a way that Jews support their synagogues in addition to membership fees. (Also by giving donations to buy memorial plaques or substantial support so that you have the "So-and-so Memorial Men's Club Room".)

"Tzedaka" is commonly translated as "charity", although it is from the Hebrew root word for "justice", meaning that the money is to help repair the unfair situation that some people are poor or sick or need help in some way. The tzedaka money is not used for paying rabbis or teachers, and is not for class or dinner fees, but is a voluntary donation for charitable purposes. It is considered a "mitzvah" (="commandment", not "good deed") to give tzedaka. Even those who receive aid themselves are supposed to give some amount of tzedaka. So clearly the shul where you husband took a class simply has the custom of collecting these donations before starting study. It is similar to the tradition in many Jewish homes to put some money in a tzedaka box just before lighting Shabbat candles (after which observant Jews do not handle money), so that it sets up a positive atmosphere of doing good before ushering in Shabbat. (We do that every week in my home.) Some of the tzedaka money might be given to help the needy in various ways, for example to buy food for a food pantry or support programs for the disabled or go to disaster relief. Or the money might be used to help needy congregants. In his most recent shul newsletter, my sponsoring rabbi asked for donations to replenish funds in the shul's "Emergency Fund" used to confidentially help congregants pay essential bills such as rent, utilities, and medical bills particularly for congregants who are struggling due to lost jobs.

My rabbi also did not charge for our many meetings while I was studying privately with him for conversion. Because my husband and children were Jewish even if I was not, my family had in fact been members of his shul for quite a few years when our children attended its Hebrew school. And we had even unintentionally "overpaid" during that time because we did not know that properly we should have paid only membership for my husband and our children, since I as a non-Jew was not allowed official affiliation according to the Conservative movement (USCJ). (The Hebrew school staff knew I wasn't Jewish, but evidently the staff who processed memberships did not know.) It adds up to quite a few thousand extra dollars, but I did not begrudge the shul the "unintentional donations" and I wanted to acknowledge how truly grateful I was to my rabbi for all the time he spent with me despite a very busy schedule. So after my conversion was finalized, I made a fair-sized donation to the "Rabbi's discretionary fund". He could then use that money for anything needed by the shul or for other needs such as the Emergency Fund. For the two other members of the Beit Din, I made a smaller donations: to the Associate Rabbi's discretionary fund, and to the general fund of the Jewish summer camp directed by the third rabbi.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:59 am

Yeah we called it the cha ching ministries, most churches have atm's and credit card swipe machines at the lobby for convenience. I been to one with a real Starbucks in the building and one with a Crispy Creams doughnuts hut. But mostly the churches have cafe's and shops or food courts. The Starbucks one also had stadium seating and people passing out popcorn. The one with a payment center has door greeters that will usher you to see the pastor live or the theatre room where you can see him in a movie experience.
This shul has several Rabbis so I will check for a discretionary fund too.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:15 am

@Debbie, ok I see now what you guys are talking about. Yikes big difference! So do they have special envelopes or drop boxes for the different programs? Where do you specify? Where do you put the money or send? I understand it will be different for us because they may not charge for classes or because we are not members, is this a topic they teach in conversion class? I may be getting ahead and they will teach all this stuff but because he is taking classes I thought I would ask. Donating to education fund sounds wonderful! At least its not towards someone's Porsche payments.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:16 am

Bee wrote:
Yeah we called it the cha ching ministries, most churches have atm's and credit card swipe machines at the lobby for convenience. I been to one with a real Starbucks in the building and one with a Crispy Creams doughnuts hut. But mostly the churches have cafe's and shops or food courts. The Starbucks one also had stadium seating and people passing out popcorn. The one with a payment center has door greeters that will usher you to see the pastor live or the theatre room where you can see him in a movie experience.

Okay, that's way beyond my experience. I've been to many churches and never seen anything like that! Are these like the mega churches where a few thousand people attend on a Sunday?
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:19 am

Not really, I considered mega churches back then to Joel Osteen or Hagee, Creflo Dollar, Paula White , Td Jakes, these are average sized..well it depends what denomination. Average churches have preschools and some up to high schools. The ones I mentioned are non denomination and pentacostal. I live a few miles from churches like this, they are everywhere.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:57 am

At the shul I mentioned above, they have a donation envelope with a check list of the various funds that you can donate to along with a line for dedicating the donation to celebrate an occasion or in honor of a person. However, my lay-led minyan is too small and lacking in formality for that, so members just send checks made out to the minyan to whoever happens to be treasurer (a volunteer position with someone new every other year) and a note saying what it goes to. Once again, it varies, so you will have to ask about how it is done at that shul.

That reminds me to send in a check to our minyan's "shiva fund" which helps pay for meals for members who are "sitting shiva" in the seven day mourning period after a close relative (parent, child, sibling, spouse) dies when mourners are supposed to stay at home and the community is supposed to take care of their basic needs such as to provide meals and snacks for visitors who come to comfort the mourners as well as to participate in the regular daily prayer services (at the home) where there is a need for at least 10 adult Jews (male, for an Orthodox minyan) so that there is a quorum to enable to the mourner to say "Kaddish". [Sorry to get off topic, but I think it is great that there are specific rules for how a traditional Jewish community supports a mourner.]
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:08 am

What a beautiful heritage and tradition! It's not off topic at all, its more insight on how the community supports each other through donations and moral support. Thank you for sharing Very Happy
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: to give or not to give   Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:06 am

Bee wrote:
What a beautiful heritage and tradition! It's not off topic at all, its more insight on how the community supports each other through donations and moral support. Thank you for sharing Very Happy



The Jewish community is very different then the xian community when it comes to Tzadaka and giving. I love that one joins a shul and the membership is a yearly cost. In my shul most pay monthly and there is never the guilt or pushiness that I found in churches.

I uses the local mikveh a few times a year and even there the suggested donation is set. The donation goes towards the upkeep of the mikveh.

Especially in these hard economic times it would be unheard of for a Rabbi to "beg" for money during a service as I have seen in churches.

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