Changing Shuls — justification needed?

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  • #1368766

    slominer
    Participant

    If someone has been davening in a Shul for a long time and is considering changing to another Shul in the neighborhood (not as a result of having moved homes), does such a change require an acceptable justifiable reason or can it even be done on a whim of desire of the mispallel?

    I’ve heard many drashas that a person should have a set Shul and Rav that he sticks to rather than be a shteeble hopper who floats around to different shuls for different minyanim without a real fixed Shul and Rav. But this question is more about a long term change.

    And should one make the change to a new Shul (without having moved homes), how is the proper approach regarding informing his old Shul (and Rav) of his decision?

    #1368806

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    While I agree that one shouldn’t shul hop, I have never heard that one cannot make a long term change. Is your reason to change because the second shul davens a different nussach? Is closer to your home? Makpid on the first zman krias shemah? Shul politics?

    #1368810

    ubiquitin
    Participant

    “or can it even be done on a whim of desire of the mispallel?”

    I dont really understand this. IT is hard for me to imagine a scenario where a person changes what he has done for a “long time” based “on a whim”

    If the Shul is closer, further, more talking, less talking . faster davening, slower davening. These are all thing s some people look for in Shuls, I wouldn’t say they are a “whim”
    Way the pros and cons of each and do what is best for you and yours.

    #1368818

    lesschumras
    Participant

    Why do people insist on complicating everything. You don’t need permission to shift nor do you owe anyone an explanation. I can see how it would be different in KJ or New Square

    #1368835

    JJ2020
    Participant

    What is the reason for changing?

    #1368850

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Yidden already have enough chumrahs w/o having to postulate a new “shteeble hopper rule”. There are legitimate restrictions that chazal bring down regarding a shul’s ability to “fire” its Rav; there is no restriction I am aware of that limits the ability of a davener to “fire” its shul and relocate to another. There are limits stemming from the inyan of “aseh l’cha rav” that discourage venue shopping among different rabbonim to get the psak din you want on a particular issue and encourage us to establish a relationship with a local rav/posek for all our questions. That doesn’t mean over time you cannot change your shul (and by implication, your rav for those of us for whom the rav of the shul is the rav we use for any halachic questions).

    #1368853

    slominer
    Participant

    “If the Shul is closer, further, more talking, less talking”

    That’s just it. If, to use your examples, the new Shul has less talking that’s an improvement in ruchniyos and could be a justifiable reason to change. Then it might be like changing shiurim and rebbis in yeshiva to a more suitable shiur that’ll help your spiritual growth.

    If the new Shul has more talking and you’re changing because the old Shul became a crowd of older mispallelim who you have little in common to socialize with, so you want to go to Shul with a younger crowd you can shmooze with, that would seem to be unjustifiable.

    Even if the change is neutral (same) ruchniyos-wise, I’m wondering if the old Shul and Rav did a lot for you over the years whether it is then right to leave them even if the new Shul is closer to your home.

    #1369156

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    “If the new Shul has more talking and you’re changing because the old Shul became a crowd of older mispallelim who you have little in common to socialize with, so you want to go to Shul with a younger crowd you can shmooze with, that would seem to be unjustifiable.”

    Agree on not changing shuls to schmooze more or better quality scotch in the Kiddush club…However, if you have kids and the tzibur of the old shul is increasingly geriatric, than changing shuls to a younger crowd so that kids have friends going to the davening and have special programs for the kids on the yom tovim might be a legit reason to consider changing.

    #1369404

    lesschumras
    Participant

    Slominer, there is no right or wrong.

    #1369464

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    GH: I didn’t see anyone here postulating a “shteeble hopper” rule; the OP and I have the same opinion that one shouldn’t shul hop. I never said it is assur or inappropriate. The question is still valid if one should approach the Rav of the shul if one has a reason to change shuls. I don’t know if the OP is asking a hypothetical question or a real life situation.

    #1369662

    ubiquitin
    Participant

    “That’s just it. If, …If the new Shul has more talking and you’re changing because the old Shul became a crowd of older mispallelim who you have little in common to socialize with, so you want to go to Shul with a younger crowd you can shmooze with, that would seem to be unjustifiable.”

    that isnt based on” a whim” that is a chaneg to either a. Be in a shul you feel more comfortbakle in or b. In a shul where you are free to shmooze.

    the first is ceertianly justifiable and even the second depending on the scenario may be justifiable as well( depends when shmoozing takes palce, and for a guy who will shmooze, arguably it is better to daven in a shul where everybody shmoozes than to shmooze in a shul whre peopel are trying not to.

    You say there is “Even if the change is neutral (same) ruchniyos-wise,”

    Gashmiyus is important too.

    At any rate if they are the same why change?

    LC
    +1

    #1369675

    slominer
    Participant

    ubiquitin: In the example I gave that you referred to, the better gashmiyus at the new Shul is coming at an expense costing worse ruchniyos (more shmoozing, or a Kiddush Club, to use someone else’s above example.) In my example he was changing because he had no one to shmooze with during davening in his old Shul.

    In the ruchniyos-neutral change example the motivation might be a closer Shul. But my concern even there was that his old Shul and Rav helped him for many years, so is it right to change?

    Also, no one has yet addressed my latter question of, if he does change, how is the proper approach regarding informing and explaining to his old Shul and Rav of his decision to leave?

    #1369689

    lesschumras
    Participant

    Slominer, i did answer. He owes nobody an explanation. If he chooses to offer one, a simple goodby would suffice. He doesn’t need the rav’s permission

    #1369704

    slominer
    Participant

    lc: “Goodbye, Rabbi. Thanks for your help for the last eight years. And good luck.”

    Sounds a tad cold.

    #1369701

    blubluh
    Participant

    As for how to leave one’s former shul, I think some official (written?) notice is appropriate. The notice need not specify reasons for leaving and should be in civil language.

    Consider that shul membership often includes paying membership dues which continues to accrue on the still-active accounts. Shuls often depend heavily on membership dues to fund annual expenses, so the sudden revelation months later that expected revenue will not be paid can be very painful and easily avoided.

    Yes, there will probably be an uncomfortable follow-up call from a board member and/or the rav trying not to lose a long-term congregant. I just think it’s the right way to handle such change.

    #1369724

    Joseph
    Participant

    blubluh: What are typical annual membership costs in a shul?

    #1369725

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    Does changing shuls have to be one of those, *WHAM, BAM, & GOODBYE* kind of deals?

    Maybe it’s just me, but why can’t you taper off of one shul? Perhaps you already tapered off and are spending more time at another shul.

    Sometimes not saying anything leaves it open for you to also go back, once in a while, if you want. Maybe you want to stop by and shake the Lulav and Etrog there, just to wish the rabbi and community a chag samayach too.

    It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, you know? When it comes to what to say, you can make it simple and vague. You had other things going on at this shul. You love both places, but clearly you need to be someplace else now. People, especially a rabbi that you were close to, ought to understand and wish you the best 🙂

    #1369892

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Shul dues can be from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.

    There is no need to make an annoucement that you left, just pack up and go

    #1370085

    blubluh
    Participant

    Joseph, I don’t know if there’s such a thing as “typical” when it comes to dues. I think there’s a strong correlation to the perceived financial well-being of the membership based on standard of living in the area (real-estate prices, etc.) as well the actual costs for the property, utilities, seforim, etc. incurred by the synagogue.

    So, a synagogue held informally in someone’s living room on Shabbos/Yom Tov only will be different (less) than one that has to raise funds to rent or build a permanent space.

    Membership dues in many shuls is voted on by the board of directors and sometimes there’s consideration for the person in financial need and a different rate for family versus individual membership, etc.

    #1370113

    groissechuchum
    Participant

    my guess is that there should be some shikul hadass like will my leaving have an impact to the shul – if you are number 10 to the minyan I’d imagine you probably have a weightier decision than if you one of a hundred. Did you help start the minyan? Are you one the pillars and main benefactors? Are you an influencer that your leaving will affect other members leaving? in a vacuum I doubt you “owe” any pre existing shul your commitment and can leave as a personal choice. For all you know your current shul and rabbi will be happy to be relieved of your attendance. bottom line its a personal decision and if you are torn you should consult some sort of mentor, if the rabbi in the shul you currently belong to can’t be approached because he is too nogeya b’davar that is probably in indication that you would be better served by another Rov. That’s my opinion, in Prague when the alteneushul broke away there were many teshuvos written and you can research those

    #1370142

    Joseph
    Participant

    in Prague when the alteneushul broke away there were many teshuvos written and you can research those

    The fact that so many teshuvos were written is an indication that this is a real shaila and not, as some are dismissing it, “Why do people insist on complicating everything” and just do whatever/however you feel.

    #1370348

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Prague is different than Brooklyn Ir HaKodesh where there is at least one shul on every block

    Prague was a Kehilla, Brooklyn is not.

    #1370355

    lesschumras
    Participant

    Joseph, please stop complicating things and mixing apples and oranges. The tshuvas dealt with starting a new shul, not an individual leaving an existing shul to join another existing shul. Different issues

    spellchecked -29

    #1370263

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    The point is that there may be practical considerations governing severing a relationship with a shul. Payment of dues for the full year is clearly one concern, especially if the shul relies upon dues to pay the Rav, etc. Also, in some shuls, you may have multi-year pledges to the building fund, etc. The shul possibly got a mortgage based on these pledges. Finally, if there is some aspect of the davening you find problematic than it makes sense to at least alert the Rav so he may consider possible changes, or at lease know about how some of the tzibur feel.

    #1370389

    takahmamash
    Participant

    Nor is Brooklyn “Ir HaKodesh.”

    #1370476

    groissechuchum
    Participant

    often (for sure in Brooklyn) people pass many shuls on their way to daven in their shul and one doesn’t need to be concerned for “ain ma’avirin al hamitzvos” by passing any of these shuls – lechoira the same sevara that applies to allowing one to pass those shuls on the way is the same sevara that one could apply to switching shuls. As to how to approach it – that is simply a question of mentchlichkeit – feeling I get is that you would like your switching to leave some sort of roisham on the shul your switching from – that your switching should have some bite to it. If that is the case and my hunch is right then my guess is that you will be sorely disappointed – most times an employee leaves the bosses recover just fine. If you are switching because another shul is a better sviva for you then you can relay that to your rov and he should understand. I know a town where a young guy opened up shop and all the younger chevra left for his shul leaving the existing shul a ghost town and the rov was very bitter about it so be careful and considerate of the rovs feelings but ultimately you need to care for yourself and not avoid a decision that’s good for you and silently suffer so another place doesn’t (possibly) feel hurt and rejected.

    #1370176

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Ask some of our Landsmen in Stamford Hill and Golders Green in the UK how much it is costing them to follow up on Nigel Lefarge’s decision to leave their old Europeaneshe Unioneshe shul and daven without a minyan in the future. The bill from the EU for costs incurred while they were still “members” is estimated to run anywhere from $50-90 billion dollars.

    #1370624

    kingdavid
    Participant

    I once sent a letter to Rav Chaim Kanievsky asking about changing to a shul where I can daven better but the original shul I davened by might be upset and it can create machlokes.

    He Replied:
    ” It’s definitely important to daven in a shul where you fell you’ll daven better, but it needs to be thought through very carefully if it pays to create machlokes becuase of this”

    #1372528

    Joseph
    Participant

    kingdavid: Why would your old shul be angry that you left?

    #1381303

    slominer
    Participant

    Related question:

    With many available Shuls to choose from in the neighborhood, what is the best way to choose the correct shul?

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