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'Paying to Pray': Can You Get Around That?
Truth be told, free options locally for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are not very plentiful. But they're out there if you know where to look.
In addition to the region's Chabad Lubavitch houses -- which request, but don't require, a donation to attend -- a smattering of congregations and small minyans have completely open services.
One is Minyan Sulam Yaakov at the Gershman Y in Center City, at Broad and Pine streets, which runs an egalitarian, yet somewhat traditional, service (www.minyansulamyaakov.org).
Alan Rothenberg, minyan president, said that he wants to provide a High Holiday home for Jews without a place to go.
In an effort to reach out to young families, many congregations in recent years have opened a specific portion of High Holiday services to the wider community, usually the family or children's services.
One example is Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Blue Bell, which opened five years ago as a branch of Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park. For the first time, Blue Bell is holding its own High Holiday services. The free Rosh Hashanah family service is set for Thursday, Sept. 9, at the Blue Bell Country Club. (Register online at: (www.kenesethisrael.org/bluebell).
One venue long known for offering free services, Hillel at the University of Pennsylvania, decided several years ago to charge for tickets -- $180 -- to the general public, though they say they won't turn anyone away due to cost. (www.pennhillel.org)
The following is a partial list of places offering free services. For more comprehensive offerings, call 215-832-0821 or go to: www.jewishphilly.org/page.aspx?id=225121.
· Congregation B'nai Abraham, an Orthodox congregation in Society Hill, opens up all services (www.PhillyShul.com).
· Congregation Rodeph Shalom, a Reform synagogue, offers a free family service on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur afternoon (www.RodephShalom.org).
· Klein Jewish Community Center: No tickets or reservations needed. Call 215-698-3194.
· Bristol Jewish Center. There's no charge, but donations are appreciated (www.bristoljewishcenter.org).
· Beth Israel Congregation, a Conservative shul in Eagle, is offering free tickets to people who have never been to the congregation. Call the office at 610-458-8550.
· Temple Sholom in Broomall, a Reform synagogue, has complimentary tickets available for Erev Rosh Hashanah. Call 610-556-5165.
· Chabad Lubavitch of the Main Line, along with the region's other Lubavitch congregations, offer services (www.chabadmainline.org). It's also possible to type in a zip code and find the closest Chabad-run service at: www.JewishNewYear.com.