By Dorothy Werblow, Treasurer, Jewish Secular Community of Cleveland, Ohio, and CSJO Supporter Every year the time arrives when each community has to pay their dues to CSJO. Our group, as most, I think, has low membership dues and there is always a discussion about the expense and remarks that we shouldn't rejoin because "CSJO doesn't do anything for us." These remarks only come from a few people. From their narrow viewpoint, I certainly understand, but disagree.
It seems to me that very few of our members, in Cleveland, Ohio, have much knowledge of, or interest in, the international secular Jewish movement. They don't attend the marvelous colloquiums in Michigan or the annual Memorial Day weekends. I have noticed that books are not often borrowed from our library. As this is probably not uncommon in the CSJO family, folks join because they can express their Jewishness in a "Hamish" environment; our monthly Shabbat programs are very short; the food is always good and the folks are great, fun people to spend time with.
CSJO is our connection to the Jewish community, at large, everywhere, not only in our particular city. It is imperative that each community support CSJO because not being part of the national group implies that this is not a movement; we are not an important and growing branch of Judaism; and there might be conflicts of some kind (personality). It has been a long road to achieve the recognition and support of the Jewish Federation in Cleveland. We now have it. I think it is petty and short-sighted to not be part of the national group.
CSJO has grown tremendously in their almost 50 years. At one time I wondered about what they were accomplishing. It seemed like a club of people who had been friends for years and years. A new constitution and bylaws have recently been born, the leadership has changed, technology is improving service to the constituents, and the costs of providing all this has been kept very, very low.
One year, at the colloquium, historian Dr. Norman Cantor was a presenter and was exposed to the humanist and secular Jewish movement for the first time. He was super impressed and told a few of us at the hotel that what CSJO needs is a billionaire benefactor so that we could get the word out. The "Jewish world" needs us. Bill and Melinda Gates and Steven Spielberg were already "taken." Slow and steady progress worked in the past and it will continue to do so.
Dorothy Werblow Jewish Secular Community in Cleveland Volunteer and Member since 1984