October 22, 2019

Pay To Pray?

The latest Pew Report showed that Christian affiliation is declining along with Jewish affiliation.

In my orbit, faith is less about affiliation with a specific group and more about God, community goodness, love and support. Religious affiliation is a powerful force—but it guarantees faith about as much as gym membership guarantees fitness.

I'm not a scientist—heck, there are people who question whether or not I’m an artist—but, frankly, it never dawned on me to doubt whether affiliation was a pre-requisite to being a person of faith. I also never imagined that people could be more or less Jewish than I. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew.

I think a more relevant question to ask is: why do people join churches and synagogues, and why do people leave? And perhaps, the most important question of all is: why be Jewish? This is a question that has become all the more prevalent, as it seems people have forgotten the reason behind annual payments and routines passed down through generations of belief.

My answer? I was born Jewish. At a very early age, I along with my family found community together with other Jewish believers. And, while I am challenged by the pay to pray model, Judaism has been a ‘business’ and source of income for me. There is money involved – but I make the music to build community and relationship not to make the money.

In short: my relationship to Judaism is intensely personal. It is possible that this is what's missing for so many people—seeing their own personal selves in living a life full of accepted ideas and inherited rituals.

Synagogues can’t survive without Judaism. Can Judaism survive without synagogues? What do you think? Does it matter? Are you worried about the decline in membership?

I am not one to worry. I live my life with hope as my fuel. As Hal Lindsey said: “you can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”

Don’t worry. Be Jewish, (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Atheist) affiliated or unaffiliated. More importantly, be and do good; love your neighbor as you love to be loved.

Shabbat Shalom