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Task Force Attendees:
Rina Liebeskind, Or Chadash Exec. Admin & Director of Youth Engagement
Jill Sobieszyk, 3rd-4th gr. Or Chadash RS Teacher
Suzie Stadheim, 4th & 7th gr. Or Chadash Parent
Abby Limmer, Temple Emanu-El Kurn Religious School Director
Allison Neja, 6th gr. Temple Emanu-El Teacher, 5th gr. Parent
Marla Harris and Jared Rubin, 2nd and 4th gr. Temple Emanu-El Parents
Brie Finegold, Temple Emanu-El Board of Directors, 8th grade teacher, 3rd grade parent

Existing Collaboration/Commonalities
The joint 8th grade trip to Jewish Los Angeles transformed last year into a joint 7th-8th grade trip that will repeat in 2021. One joint Camp Experience rather than separate camp fairs. Working to rename JCTEY and JJCTEY to include OC students in TE’s NFTY-affiliated youth groups.

Both synagogues participate in the Shinshinim program and both have a madrichim program.

Existing Schedules

Day of the Week Temple Emanu-El Or Chadash
Sunday 9:00-noon 9:30-noon
Tuesday 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Thursday 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Steps to a Future Merger

  • Have social functions for the students to become one community. Recruit middle schoolers from OC and TE with older kids’ help into NFTY-affiliated youth groups.
  • Work with Finance Task Force to determine to what extent merging of schools will change budget and/or reduce tuition. Note that cost of supplies would remain the same.
  • Decide how to align schedules for both Hebrew School. Possibilities include:
    • Two days per week of Hebrew school to which any member can choose to attend one or the other consistently throughout the year – this could be transitional or permanent
      • Have same curriculum, same teachers
      • Have different curricula, different teachers
    • One day per week of Hebrew school
  • Decide how to align Sunday School schedules and curricula:
    • Later than 9am start and have 3 hours or have 2.5 or 2.75 hours
    • 9am start and noon end (no one seemed interested in ending earlier than noon)
    • Work to keep Chuggim (electives) as well as signature events like Mitzvah Fair, etc.
    • Set aside appropriate furniture and custodial help to accommodate larger classes (this is plausible to do at Temple Emanu-El)
Current Grade Cong. Or Chadash Temple Emanu-El Total # of Students
Pre-K* 10 4 14
Kindergarten 4 5 9
1st 3 7 10
2nd 3 6 9
3rd 7 15 22
4th 7 4 11
5th 6 8 14
6th 13 7 20
7th 12 6 18
8th 3 5 8

Table 1: These are the numbers per grade for the 2019-2020 years. Once combined, some of the grades will have to be divided into 2 classes.

*Pre-K includes 2 years of students, 3- and 4-year olds.

  • Decide on B’nei Mitzvah Schedules and Training
    • Resolve conflicts for 2 dates: 10/17/20 and 10/24/20
    • Unify B’nei Mitzvah Training practices with Ritual Committee help
  • Work to unify Hebrew school curricula and incorporate Hebrew@Home.
  • Decide whether to pursue accreditation, since that will be lost.

Risks and Mitigations

  • People may feel like they “don’t know everybody”
    • More kids means stronger sense of Jewish belonging/identity, less chance of being the only one
  • Changing the schedules may alienate people
    • Offer both schedules on weekdays to find what people gravitate towards
    • Offer some of the same activities but on a different timeline/compromise on timing
  • People may lose programs that they enjoy or that curricula has changed too much
    • Point out new opportunities due to larger classes and more resources
    • Work to identify people’s favorite activities and preserve them
    • Work to include teachers (and parents) in unification of curricula
  • Or Chadash would lose its accreditation
    • Work to regain it so as to preserve prestige as only AZ accredited religious school
  • Change of location may alienate people
    • Facilitate carpooling
    • Strengthen Hebrew@Home
  • Having to reduce staff or financially support two sets of staff
    • Allow for natural attrition
  • Conflicting B’nei Mitzvah schedules may force kids to choose whose to attend or alienate families with special ties to that date.
    • Joint B’nei mitzvah
    • Morning and afternoon service