The Community Free Synagogue
P.O. Box 07144 Fort Myers, FL 33919
239.274.7485 (SHUL) firstname.lastname@example.org
We meet in the Southwest Florida Masonic Center 10868 Metro Pkwy in South Fort Myers (MAP)
What's So "Free" About the Community Free Synagogue?
Those who do the work are free to chart their own course. We are a very active volunteer-based congregation, and while we do have the officers the State requires for a not-for-profit and basic by-laws and follow all the Federal rules, those who step forward to do the work are empowered and encouraged. We are long on cooperation and consensus, and very short on bosses and machers!
We are a free Jewish community resource open to all, not a private membership based organization. Selling synagogue memberships is a fairly recent American invention; we prefer the traditional mode of affiliation that has sustained our people for most of its history. You don't belong to the synagogue- the synagogue belongs to you since that's the place you come to pray, study and celebrate. Think of us more like a village, and less like a club.
Everything we do it free. We don't sell or charge for anything. We come together to pray, study and do benevolent deeds and we trust that those who participate with us will want to lend support without us having to schnorr. We treat people like adults, not customers, we don't see dollar signs when new people walk through our doors, and those who contribute are known only to the treasurer, who maintains strict confidentiality. We really don't think that much about money and we always seem to have what we need.
Our Rabbi is also free to set his own course, to share his learning and nearly 50 years' experience, to lead us in prayer and study and offer us direction, but we are not his boss. We help him in every way we can, enabling and encouraging him. He responds in kind. Our relationship is one of genuine affection and mutual respect.
We are free from "synagogue politics" since we move forward by consensus and not voting, so there are no "winning and losing" sides. We "talk it up" informally, listen to each other carefully and try to arrive at what is best for the synagogue. Everyone's opinion is valued and taken seriously, especially those who have a stake in the outcome.
All-in-all, it is amazing what we've been able to achieve over these last 12 years with our very "villagey" way. We don't "run this synagogue like a business" since we are not a business. We are not a "well oiled machine" since we are not a machine. What we are are several hundred households who are doing our best to create a harmonious synagogue whose purpose is "prayer, study and benevolent acts," and, thank Heaven, we have been succeeding.