In a city with many shuls, in what way should we think about the individual shuls?

a) They are “service” (no pun intended) providers and I will take the services as they suit me best. Even if I take membership of one or more shuls, that does not limit my use of the other shuls.

b) Once I become a member of one shul, I have an obligation towards it to organise my life around its timetable to preferably go to its shiurim and other events.

There are obvious advantages of a community: people take an interest for and care for each other; if I am not in shul people will check to see if I am well etc.

The ideal answer would contain some form of source material – if not responsa, at least stories of Gedolim.

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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/18983/472 Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 14:21
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    This reminds me of the old joke about the Jew who was found after 20 years as a castaway on an island. He showed his rescuerers several buildings he had built for himself. In fact, he had built two synagoguges. Why two? "This is the shul to go to, and that is the shul I wouldn't set foot in." Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 18:42
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    How was the man rescued from that island? The membership committee found him. Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 5:11
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    @BruceJames: "They couldn't chat together--they had not been introduced."
    – TRiG
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 90:19, says:

One should designate a place for his prayer, one he should not change unnecessarily. It's insufficient to designate a synagogue to pray in: even in the synagogue he's designated, it's necessary that he have a designated place.

Your question seems to be asking about both prayer and others uses (classes etc.) of a synagogue. I don't know about the other uses, but as far as prayer goes the Shulchan Aruch seems pretty clear.


I had the experience of seeing my shul being used just for the convenience of another member (eg he came because he wanted to say the haftorah the shabbos before a yahrzeit or he needed the shul to have an amud from which to daven during aveilus).

To my shame, this made me feel bad. I did not like the experience of seeing the shul used for the convenience of someone else.

So as Hillel says in the Gemoro Shabbos 31a

דעלך סני לחברך - לא תעביד

what is hateful to you, do not do to your colleague.

I deduce that it is better not to use the shul for my own convenience because others might not like it!

I realise that this answer does not meet my own ideal criteria of responsa or at least stories of Gedolim!

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