Should Shuls be Welcoming Places?

I used to judge a shuls friendliness factor purely based on the amount of meal invites I received during davening. I used to come on in take a seat and literally wait for people to come up to me to say good shabbos and throw some free food my way, but recently I started thinking a bit more into the philosophy behind many shuls themselves. In out of town communities, many shuls advertise shabbos hospitality and will even brag about their kindness to guests, but what I’m really wondering is if shuls have an obligation to be friendly and welcoming places.

I have been to several out of town (out of the New York magnetic pull) shuls that have been downright cold and unfriendly. I’ve always come to expect a certain degree of friendliness from shuls and communities outside of New York, so when I encounter coldness it really pisses me off. It’s one thing to not get a shabbos meal invite, but it’s entirely different when no one says hello, offers assistance with siddur or seat finding or you encounter the dreaded makom kavuah boot that no visitor wants to endure. I’m not asking for shlishi here, I’m asking for a little acknowledgement. But for some this may be too much to ask.


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