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Letter to Prospective Members

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Dear Prospective Member,


We are excited that you are considering joining us at Congregation Brith Shalom (CBS). CBS is a warm and wonderful Conservative synagogue that cares about every member and strives to be each member’s Jewish home-away-from-home. We know that financial considerations are significant factors when selecting a synagogue. Because the process of electing an annual giving commitment can be intimidating, we are committed to making it straight-forward and simple. As with all aspects of your CBS experience, we want the financial aspect of joining us to be a positive one. Ours is an honor system, so no one will ask you to substantiate your financial situation or annual giving level. We believe that Brith Shalom is worthy of your charitable contribution, and we only ask that you be fair.

We have streamlined our dues for new members. Unlike most other synagogues, we do not charge for a building fund, a potential savings of thousands of dollars. We do not invade your privacy by requiring you to base your dues payment on a specific percentage of your income. It is our hope that new members will commit to an annual giving level of SUSTAINING MEMBER or higher, in which event we will not add on any ‘mandatory’ fees, common at other congregations, such as national United Synagogue dues and security fees. If you join us after our fiscal year has commenced, we prorate your annual giving commitment so that you are not required to pay for a full year. The only financial commitments and fees, if applicable, that extend beyond your annual giving commitment are discretionary ones, such as Men’s Club and Sisterhood membership, contributions to the shul (such as the annual High Holiday appeal) and religious school tuition. Tuition is currently offset by the congregation with the synagogue funding almost two-thirds of the cost of the religious school.

We have devised a system that we believe is both dignified and fair. Our system sets a standard, sustaining dues amount that represents the amount needed per family unit to operate the synagogue. While we expect that this amount will be the appropriate giving level for most members, we also know that there is no one formula that is right for every person or family. Therefore, we have also created alternative categories to address the needs of young members, families with young children and those whose means allow them to give more or prevent them from giving as much as desired. Please select which giving category best serves your circumstances. If your financial situation is one of substantial hardship, one of our financial officers will be happy to discuss alternative arrangements privately with you.

Please review the five annual giving options available to new members, and choose which is best for you. Here is an explanation of each option:

OPTION A Benefactor’s Circle. For those members who can afford to contribute at a higher level, there are four distinct categories from which to select, each of which provides certain additional benefits of membership. Selecting one of these options provide increased funding for synagogue program and fulfills our compassionate mandate to provide for those who are not as fortunate.

OPTION B We expect that most new members will select an annual giving commitment at the Sustaining Member level which is currently $2,400.00 (may change annually in July of each year). This amount is approximately the average cost per member of running the Shul obtained by dividing the actual cost of operating the Shul by the number of members.

OPTION C If you are a family with children aged 13 or younger and you are registering them in CBS’ Religious School (or enrolled in a Jewish Day School), you are entitled to receive a first-year discount of 1/3 off your prorated, annual giving commitment, if you opt to join at the Sustaining Member level of $2,400.00 or a higher level.

OPTION D If you are 29 years of age or younger, you are only asked to commit to an annual giving level in an amount that equals your age, and if you are married, the combined ages of both spouses, as long as neither are over 29. For example, if you and your spouse are 28 and 29, respectively, you will only need to pay $57 for your initial year’s annual giving commitment. You will have this option until one of you turns 30. Once the older of you or your spouse turns 30 you will be entitled to receive a discount on your annual commitment for two more years, if you choose to join at the Sustaining Member level or a higher level.

OPTION E We know that there are some new members who may not have the wherewithal to contribute at the Sustaining Member level. If you fall into this category, please call one of our financial officers to discuss and approve the alternative arrangement.

Welcome to CBS. We look forward to your active participation in our congregational family.

B’shalom!

Tom Samuels
Financial Vice President