Orthodox Jewish Leaders Urge Jews to Shun Resort Synagogues During High Holy Days

Two Orthodox Jewish leaders are urging Jews to attend Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services in synagogues in their home areas rather than attending services in what they termed as makeshift and “instant synagogues” in holiday resorts. Rabbi Joseph Karasick, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, and Rabbi Bernard Berzon, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, deplored the “flimsy attractiveness” of holiday resorts and “their substitute services.” They expressed concern over the departure of Jews from their home areas to resort areas with their “makeshift” synagogues and emphasized that “synagogue desertion” during the holidays “inflicts serious damage upon these (home area) institutions.” A joint statement by the two rabbis noted that the yearly exodus to resorts creates a financial burden on the synagogues that are deserted because they depend to a large degree on the support of worshippers during the holy days to provide a considerable proportion of their budgets. According to the statement, “instant synagogues” are not only “religiously questionable but impair the solvency” of all-year round synagogues. The rabbis also expressed concern about resort advertising of special facilities to attract holiday guests. “Resorts which advertise together with their High Holy Day services, Broadway shows and other entertainment of questionable value are simply not acceptable as places of worship to the faithful Jew.” The statement added that by exchanging the synagogue for the resort “we rob our young generation of the strong and soul-nourishing impact of the ‘days of awe.’”

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