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 will be 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 already actively 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 third Town Hall meeting to roll out two of our Task Force reports was held on Sunday, December 8, 2019.  As promised, these reports from the Worship and Clergy Task Forces are being emailed to congregants and posted to our synagogue websites. 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 Worship Task Force were Kathylynn Saboda of Or Chadash and Amy Ruskin of Temple Emanu-El. They both presented portions of the presentation with outstanding content and a deep understanding of each of our congregation’s worship activities. The task force reviewed recent and upcoming collaborative efforts between our congregations and the great many types of services in common that are currently offered. Though the services are in large part similar, there are many substantive differences in the approaches taken by the clergy. The task force believed that each congregation’s ritual committee would continue to abide by the traditions of each shul and continue during a transition period that would overlay the actual legal merger into a new entity. During this transition period, there would be parallel services with a multitude of opportunities for all congregants to enjoy a great variety of observances under one roof and to become familiar with different ritual styles. The length of the transition period is not defined by any given date, but rather by the clergy and congregation at large. And, at every opportunity, we will eat, study, and pray together to create a joint sacred community.

The representatives presenting the Clergy Task Force included Rabbi Thomas Louchheim and Emily Joseph of Or Chadash in the morning presentation, and Emily again with Scott Arden of Temple Emanu-El for the afternoon presentation. They reviewed the process the task force took, including extensive research of successful congregational mergers as well as review of different models of clergy leadership. A combined congregation would include two rabbis with both cantor and cantorial soloist and will accommodate a diversity of worship experiences. A clergy integration committee will continuously evaluate the success of the division of responsibilities among the clergy, and how they are working together and with the congregants. The spiritual future of our congregation will be through collaborative problem-solving – working together to understand and change conditions that involves congregants to raise their own consciousness to the fundamental issues that face our Jewish community.

In the morning Town Hall at Or Chadash, Dave Flyer reported on a very detailed and professional process for congregants to vote via a mail-in ballot. At the afternoon session at Temple Emanu-El, Mona Gibson explained that Temple will use the same process as developed by Dave and have requested his guidance on this most important administrative matter.

Our next step is to prepare an outline of the elements of a merged congregation and the steps to be taken to move us to this new entity. Our congregants will be fully informed before any vote is taken. All of our weekly and monthly reports, task force findings and presentations, and general information will be posted to our websites for your review.

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.