Like many synagogues around America, AKSE has grappled with declining membership as a chronic financial leak for about a generation. It has become a very expensive consumer purchase when viewed that way. Creating other ways to view the expenditure have been largely dysingenuous and not very successful. People have other ways to purchase a Bar Mitzvah if they want to purchase a Bar Mitzvah. Different schemes have been tried. No fee High Holiday entry the Rabbi's first year on the false hope that his presence would be an attraction. It wasn't and the data of the ensuing seven years suggest that it isn't. Our Hebrew School has given the best education around for the few who want it but you can really have your kids processed through Bar Mitzvah without learning much of enduring value. Other congregations have replicated that experiment many times.
So the latest brainstorm is to bring them into the building on a Sunday morning, give them a bagel, let them chat with the Rabbi and President and see if they might want to spend 2% of their family's gross income to continue.
Wonder how much planning and analysis went into preparation for this. There are places that captivate you when you walk in the door. The welcome center at Temple Square did form me. So did the reception room for the Washington University Medical School graduation. When you walk into these rooms you see Mishpacha, big screen TV's of people who have been enjoying their affiliation. There is no ulterior motive. WashU has already gotten our tuition and their students moving forward to carry on the University's good name there and elsewhere. The Mormons celebrate their success amid adverse historical challenges without caring one way or another whether any visitor joins and later tithes. Both organizations have joy to convey to those who enter. AKSE's poobahs probably need to take the hint and create something a little more worthy of celebration than what I've encountered, then ask guests to the party.