Letters to the Editor: JCC membership fees

Faith Comensky’s recent letter about the cost of joining the Jewish Community Center deserves a response from a longtime J member who is neither a board member nor employee.

I’m not aware of anyone in our community who has demonstrated a need for a reduced rate membership from the J who was denied. I was in that position 40 years ago and received a helping hand (which I’ve repaid many times). Further, you don’t have to be a member of the J to participate in Jewish programming

I’m at the J virtually every day and I see people of diverse backgrounds seeing what our tribe can do when we work together. Paying dues at the J is different than belonging to a standard fitness center, because you are helping those in the community who are unable to pay and supporting community programs for the developmentally disabled, among others. You also get free medical, legal and investment advice (wanted or not) in the locker room.

I would like to suggest a way for every employed member of the J to help people like Mr. and Mrs. Comensky without missing a beat in their lifestyle.


Congress recently lowered Social Security tax by 2 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2011 (about $1,000 of extra take home pay for someone making $50,000 a year or $2,100 for someone making the Social Security maximum). I’ve instructed my bookkeeper to keep my net paycheck on Jan. 15 the same as it was on Dec. 31. Each month she’ll send 1 percent of my gross to the J. (The other 1 percent will go to the Family Resource Center, a secular agency which helps at- risk children). I’ll help the J and foster children without feeling any pain. These gifts will be in addition to what I’m already giving.

I challenge every J member to do the same, either through their company payroll or by an automatic bank deduction.

I initially asked the Light to withhold my name — even though I’ve never been shy about expressing myself — because this isn’t about me. It’s about our community.

No Jew should be shy about asking another for charity, because in the words of Rabbi Caro, “One who causes others to give has a greater reward than the giver” (Schulhan Aruch 249.5).

Norman Pressman

Crystal Lake Park

As a person they consider dedicated to the service of the Jewish community, the Jewish Community Center has always offered me an annual complimentary membership. While unfortunately my schedule doesn’t allow me to take advantage of the generous offer, I am deeply appreciative of their policy. I believe it demonstrates that this organization is here to serve the community to the best of their ability, and while membership rates have gone up, I am quite sure that their expenses and overhead justify the fees, and fiscal responsibility is critical to viability. While maybe my expression of gratitude is long past due, to the JCC I say, “Thank you.”

Shlomo Soroka

Director of Learning

St. Louis Kollel