Financial Meltdown Hits High Holy Days

Wednesday, Sep 2, 2009  |  Updated 1:30 PM EDT
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Financial Meltdown Hits High Holy Days

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Hasidic Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah while praying during a traditional Tashlich ceremony on the East River.

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Synagogues are hurting as the Jewish High Holy Days near.

Rabbis in New York and around the country say the financial meltdown has left many congregants unable to pay annual dues. Those fees cover most of a synagogue's budget.

In states hardest hit by the recession, rabbis say as many as a quarter of their members can't pay. Some congregants are so embarrassed that they try to quit without saying why.

Synagogue executives are suspending dues for some members and cutting congregational budgets.

The synagogues are also helping members get back on their feet with programs ranging from free counseling to money to cover their  household bills.

The 10-day holiday period begins at sundown Sept. 18 with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana.

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