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Points of View
In (Y)Our Debt
My Point of View, Mar 4, 2005
© Rabbi Jack Moline

No one has to tell me about the problems of juggling the family budget and managing cash flow. It can be a hard thing to do. When unexpected (or even expected) expenses arise, the head of household sometimes has to decide which bills get paid on time and which get delayed a little bit. Part of the deliberation certainly has to do with interest charges and credit ratings – the deferred-payment credit card with 0% interest can occasionally loosen an otherwise tight month.

As a matter of principle (from the Torah) the synagogue does not charge interest on late payments of dues, religious school tuition and fees. It may make us unique among the places you spend money, but it is how we extend a sense of automatic trust to our members. Most people honor their obligations in a timely manner.

Every now and then, however, the shul finds itself in a difficult position when cash received does not equal cash promised. We are in such a situation now. A very limited number of members owe us a substantial amount of money. But a substantial number of members owe us a limited amount of money, in the general neighborhood of a thousand dollars, give or take. In the aggregate, it has put us tens of thousands of dollars behind in our collections.

No one likes to make calls asking for money. It is uncomfortable for caller and callee alike. Especially when the amount owed is relatively insignificant, the cost in time and enthusiasm of making those calls is very high. So I am asking you to take a good look at your next statement from Agudas Achim and either pay it (my first choice) or contact our office to let us know when you will be able to meet those obligations. If you don't, your elected representatives on the board will indeed have to call you.

Of course, if there is a financial situation that is preventing you from meeting your commitment, please let us know and we will make the necessary adjustments. We value you as a member and will do what we can to help your through any tough times; our president, Bob Meyers, will handle any such requests gently and confidentially. But unless we hear from you, we will assume that you agree to our record of your promises to us.

It is not our intention to embarrass anyone. Yet, I hope I can spur your own internal outrage when I mention that among the unpaid obligations are rental fees for events that have already taken place, tuition and b'nai mitzvah tutoring fees for instruction that has already been provided and materials charges for books and supplies that have already been used. Please be fair and meet those obligations as soon as possible.

The Board of Directors will be meeting soon to discuss different ways to ensure that our promised income arrives in a timely manner, enabling us to continue to provide the services you have come to expect. Thank you for doing the right thing.

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