The Care and Feeding of Small Tent Shuls

Our Shul, has been at a comfortable 85% – 90% Shabbos capacity for a number of years. Although we are financially stable, primarily because of our playgroup, we periodically discuss our new membership enrollment to see if there is anything we can do to insure continued equlibirum in our new member to attrition ratio. As the membership ages, the question invariably comes down to attracting younger members.

One problem Shuls face, is that there is not a homogeneous young member profile. Some want a more Yeshivish style davening. Some want a faster davening with a weekly kiddush for socialization. Some want a Shul of peers with no desire for a cross-generational membership makeup. And some want a Shul with a great knowledgable Rav.

In this era of Shul choice, you can’t be all things to all people. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to make your Shul more appealing by eliminating some of the cruft: like burdensome announcements, unnecessary delays in davening, a non-responsive bureaucratic governing body, or an offensive culture of shhhshing. On the positive side, things like more frequent kiddushes can add some Shul appeal.

Although Small Tent Shuls don’t have as many problems as some of their Big Tent cousins – attention, discussion and maintenance is necessary to maintain your Shul’s appeal in our age of increasing Shul Choice.