The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between our congregations about our potential merger and the process required for a merger was distributed to both congregations last week. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is an agreement between two or more parties outlined in a formal document. It is not legally binding but signals the willingness of the parties to move forward with a common line of action. The MOU content was solidified after numerous conversations with legal counsel, Board members, and congregants.

Congregation Or Chadash has established a mail-in ballot voting process which will culminate with counting votes publicly on Sunday, February 9th. Temple Emanu-El will have a special Congregational Meeting on the same day, February 9th, when attendees will vote. Temple will announce a call-in option and more alternative absentee balloting options shortly. The meetings at both congregations will begin at 12:30 p.m.

We want to take the opportunity in this and next week’s weekly email communications to answer several frequently asked questions.

  1. What would be the end result of a merger of Congregation Or Chadash and Temple Emanu-El?
    The end result would be a new congregation that respects the history of the two institutions and evolves with future generations to enrich and sustain Tucson’s Reform Jewish community, creating a more vibrant atmosphere than either institution could have offered alone. This would be a congregation at whose instantiation we could all chant the Shehecheyanu, feeling the weight and truth of the words, “sustained us and brought us to this season.”
  2. What would be our new congregation’s name?
    While this is an important topic to address, we have not yet broached it. We are very cognizant of the fact that the name should reflect the new energy and evolving nature of a merged institution. We will form a new committee to address this topic if the MOU is approved.
  3. Who would be the clergy for our new congregation?
    We will honor current contracts and work together to retain clergy or to find new clergy as necessary. In 2019, Rabbi Appel informed the Temple Emanu-El Board that she will not seek renewal of her contract, which ends on June 30, 2020. Thus, Temple Emanu-El is actively searching for an interim rabbi to serve a one-year term. Rabbi Louchheim would continue on as part of the clergy for the merged synagogue. The merged board will be responsible for finding any other clergy that the congregation will need. We anticipate that this would include a second rabbi after the services of the interim rabbi are concluded.

Please stay connected to find out more about the next steps in our ongoing conversation. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments by writing to our shared email account at jewishtucson@gmail.com.