The Ambassadors created eight task forces to actively envision what a merger of our congregations would look like, identify any hurdles that would conflict with this future, and provide possible solutions to these issues. Six of these task forces are reporting to our congregations during November and early December in order for the members of both congregations to hear first-hand their findings from these groups. The Communications and Collaborative Efforts task forces will not be reporting as they are working to ensure that our congregants are aware of our processes and have opportunities to meet/work with each other during this time period.
Our second Town Hall meeting to roll out two of our Task Force reports was held on Sunday, November 17, 2019. As promised, these reports from the Religious School and Facilities Task Forces were emailed to congregants and posted to our synagogue websites (see above). The meetings at each synagogue were well attended and we thank you all for your continued interest and fabulous questions.
The representatives presenting from the Religious School Task Force were Rina Liebeskind of Or Chadash and Dr. Abby Limmer of Temple Emanu-El. They both presented portions of the presentation with incredible content, graphics, and wonderful transitions between the slides. They began by reviewing the current collaborative efforts that have been ongoing for quite some time. Though our Sunday school programs have significant overlap, the Hebrew school offered during the week has more differences in date/time but similarities in curriculum. Combining students of the schools would mean full classes in each grade. The task force members advised that the biggest hurdles to overcome are location, loss of accreditation of the OC school, and our students/families no longer feeling connected. Many suggestions were proposed for further review to mitigate these issues such as providing transportation, applying immediately for accreditation, having opportunities for students to enjoy social events together, and strengthening Temple’s Hebrew@Home program. Overall, the task force believed that a merger of our religious schools could be successful.
The representatives presenting the Facilities Task Force included Steve Tofel of Temple, Ron Schneider of Temple, and Mo Riback of Or Chadash. Steve started them off and each one took turns presenting their findings. With the possibility of a merger, the task force looked at three alternatives: A) Build a new facility at a new site; estimating this would cost a total of $8.5M to $9.5M. B) Expand the Or Chadash campus to accommodate an enlarged congregation and education base; estimating this would cost $1.9M to $2.8M. C) Improve the Temple Emanu-El campus to correct for deferred maintenance and general facilities issues; estimating this would cost $500,000 to $1.2M depending on what items were improved. The task force prioritized the construction items to make Temple more accommodating and aesthetically pleasing to all congregants of both synagogues. An initial loan may be used to make the repairs and remodeling quickly; and payment of the loan would be from cash reserves as a result of the lowered costs and greater efficiencies of having both congregations working out of one facility. Overall, the task force concluded that moving to Temple Emanu-El is the option that appears most financially feasible.
Our next Town Hall meetings will be on 12/08/2019 – Worship and Clergy, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Or Chadash and 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El. Members of each task force will present their findings, and our goal continues to be to review and discuss each new report openly and honestly. Our congregants will have opportunities to learn more about each topic and to be fully informed before any vote is taken. We will publish meeting reminders via our weekly email communications, and we’ve posted the schedule on our websites.
Thank you for the commitment and passion that you bring to this conversation. And please feel free to share your thoughts and comments by writing to our shared email account at JewishTucson@gmail.com.