Collaboration with Temple Emanu-El

Below, you can find the Task Force Reports (in orange), along with each of the Ambassadors’ Reports (in blue) that have been sent out to the Congregation. The results of the MOU vote are listed at the top of the Ambassadors’ Reports section. The first letter, at the bottom of the page, details the background of this project and introduces the Ambassadors.

Join us for any and all of the following meetings to discuss our potential merger with Temple Emanu-El:

  • Friday, February 25, 5:30 p.m.
  • Friday, March 3, 5:30 p.m.

You can reach the Ambassadors at JewishTucson@gmail.com.

Introduction to the Task Force Reports

In early 2019, the Boards of Directors of Congregation Or Chadash and Temple Emanu-El initiated discussions between representatives of each congregation (“Ambassadors”) to consider a possible future together under two scenarios:

  1. Continued or increased collaborations in targeted areas, such as Religious School and Sisterhood.
  2. A future merger with analysis of potential positive outcomes, negative aspects and possible strategies to address barriers to successful merger.

In August 2019, with the guidance of Rabbi Fine of URJ, we populated eight (8) task forces to explore key aspects of the two scenarios. 1) Finance 2) Governance 3) Facilities 4) Religious School 5) Worship 6) Clergy 7) Communications 8) Joint Programming. The reports for the first six will be sent out to congregations ahead of townhalls as follows: There will be no reports from Communications or Joint Programming as these dealt with ongoing activities not with projections about our future.

Sunday, Nov 3: Finance and Governance reports at Or Chadash 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and at Temple Emanu-El 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Sunday, Nov 17: Facilities and Religious Schools at Or Chadash 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and at Temple Emanu-El 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Sunday Dec 8: Worship and Clergy at Or Chadash 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and at Temple Emanu-El 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Please click on the tabs below to read the Finance and Governance reports.

Sunday, November 3, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Reports from the Finance & Governance Task Forces

Finance Task Force Report

Congregation Or Chadash: Gary Kippur (First VP) and Mark Ross (Treasurer)
Temple Emanu-El: Scott Arden (President), Jeff Rein (Treasurer), Jerry Cohen (VP)

The finance task force members first signed a non-disclosure agreement in Spring, 2019, and then reviewed the budgets and financial situations of both synagogues together. The initial review revealed that both synagogues are facing financial challenges and that our financial situation would very likely be stronger with a merger than remaining independent/separate with ongoing collaborations.

Therefore, they proceeded to conduct a more detailed analyses to compare financial projections if we remain independent (with continued collaboration) versus financial projections if we merge. The following factors were incorporated into projections for the first year after our merger, a second year with merger, and a third year. These are based on a plan to market the Or Chadash property and centralize the new, combined congregation at the current Temple Emanu-El facility.

Assumptions applied in financial projections:

  1. Two Rabbis, a Cantor and a Cantorial Soloist- our anticipated clergy with larger congregation
  2. Legal fees: $25,000 for legal fees related to merger of the two synagogues
  3. Maintaining Or Chadash property until sale: $25,000 During the first year and $15,000 in the 2nd year.
  4. Facility repairs and upgrades at the current Temple Emanu-El facility: The facilities task force created a plan to prioritize repairs/upgrades over several years (Their report will be sent out before the Nov 17 town halls). We worked from an assumption that the costs of repairs/upgrades would be drawn from existing cash flow. Funds from the sale of the Or Chadash property were not included in these projections.
  5. Membership dues: Based on information from URJ about the experiences of other congregations who have merged, we considered a scenario as follows: an overall loss of no more than 10% of combined membership in the first year and increases of 5% in the second years and third years. Projections were based on current membership dues structures at both congregations.
  6. Elimination of duplicate services and facility expenses (one property to maintain instead of two and staffing for a larger, single congregation)

Here is the Summary of the analyses based on the above assumptions.

  • Remaining separate: We are likely to break even, at best. We may face budget shortfalls with consequent implementation of new cost-saving measures along with increased reliance on fundraising strategies.
  • Financial Forecasts for the first three years, beginning with the first year:
    *Note: The term “net income” means the amount of money available after all expenses are subtracted from expected revenues i.e. in the black.
    • Year 1: Net income about $200,000.00
      *Note: the first year would have some one-time expenses e.g. Maintaining Or Chadash property until it is sold.
    • Year 2: Net income up to about $250,000.00
    • Year 3: Net income up to over $300,000.00

The financial projections noted here are based on assumptions that may change with new information. We cannot provide you with more details on the projected budget with merger as this is sensitive information for both congregations, and this executive summary will be made available to congregants. We will provide congregants with hard copies (numbered) and more details at the in-person discussion at Or Chadash (and Temple Emanu-El) on Sunday, November 3. We look forward to talking with you soon.

Sunday, November 17, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Reports from the Facilities & Religious School Task Forces

Religious School Task Force Report

Click here to view the PowerPoint.

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 WeekTemple Emanu-ElOr Chadash
Sunday9:00-noon9:30-noon
Tuesday4:00-6:00 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 GradeCong. Or ChadashTemple Emanu-ElTotal # of Students
Pre-K*10414
Kindergarten459
1st3710
2nd369
3rd71522
4th7411
5th6814
6th13720
7th12618
8th358

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

Sunday, December 8, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Reports from the Worship and Clergy Task Forces

Worship Services Task Force Report

Task Force members: From Congregation Or Chadash (OC) – Cantor Janece Cohen, Sarah Bollt, Kathylynn Saboda, Susan Winkler. From Temple Emanu-El (TE) – Cantorial Soloist Marjorie Hochberg, Harold Blatter, Andy Iventosch, Amy Ruskin. Representing Ambassadors – Elaine Jones, Dana Adler, and Mona L. Gibson.

Background: This Task Force was formed to review what the worship practices would look like in a congregation formed by the merging of current OC and TE congregations, to identify any issues or hurdles that might cause a problem in such merger, and then to propose possible solutions to mitigate these concerns.

Process: The worship task force met four times in October/November, alternating between synagogues as scheduling allowed. The culture of each synagogue was discussed and the multitude of worship services were delineated. Task Force members reviewed the history and development of their respective congregations, especially how their culture and ideology have formed each’s approach to worship services, prayers, and festivals.

Findings: Both congregations participate in the Reform Judaism movement but there are differences in the approach to services, the prayer books used, the music and the arrangement of the services. When all services and festivals observed were compared, it was clear that both congregations have a plethora of services to meet the needs of congregants of all ages, and to appeal to many different desires. Both congregations have a rich emphasis on music, food and community. While the facilities at Temple Emanu-El are large enough to hold services for a combined congregation, the Or Chadash representatives expressed concern about being part of a larger congregation and loss of their identity. Although Temple Emanu-El is a Reform congregation, congregants expressed a concern of moving away from the more conservative approach developed over the past two decades.

Proposal: Currently the services have many similarities, yet there are differences that Task Force representatives believe to be significant. Temple Emanu-El’s facility has the capacity to hold multiple services per day or even multiple services at the same time. Offering one service for the combined congregations was suggested for special occasions, such as bat/bar mitzvah services. However, during a period of transition (prior to and after the congregations are merged) parallel services can be conducted (click here for sample schedule). Congregants can enjoy a greater variety of observances under one roof and all services would be open to all congregants, giving our members choice. 

Recommendations: It is incumbent upon future members of the congregations’ worship/ritual committees to decide what services to offer, combine, continue or retire. In the meantime, this Worship Task Force recommends the following:

  1. Each congregation’s ritual committee will work independently according to its traditions until such time the congregations are merged.
  2. Facility availability and usage will be organized and coordinated with the clergy and administration.
  3. Life cycle events will be scheduled and coordinated with the clergy and administration.
  4. Joint services whenever possible will be organized by the ritual committees, clergy and coordinated with administration.
  5. At every opportunity, we will eat, study and pray together to create a sacred community.
  6. A Kashrut policy will be established and observed by both congregations.
  • In early 2019, the Boards of Directors of Congregation Or Chadash and Temple Emanu-El initiated discussions between representatives of each congregation (“Ambassadors”) to consider a possible future together under two scenarios:

    1. Continued or increased collaborations in targeted areas, such as Religious School and Sisterhood.
    2. A future merger with analysis of potential positive outcomes, negative aspects and possible strategies to address barriers to successful merger.

    In August 2019, with the guidance of Rabbi Fine of URJ, we populated eight (8) task forces to explore key aspects of the two scenarios. 1) Finance 2) Governance 3) Facilities 4) Religious School 5) Worship 6) Clergy 7) Communications 8) Joint Programming. The reports for the first six will be sent out to congregations ahead of townhalls as follows: There will be no reports from Communications or Joint Programming as these dealt with ongoing activities not with projections about our future.

    Sunday, Nov 3: Finance and Governance reports at Or Chadash 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and at Temple Emanu-El 1:00-2:00 p.m.
    Sunday, Nov 17: Facilities and Religious Schools at Or Chadash 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and at Temple Emanu-El 1:00-2:00 p.m.
    Sunday Dec 8: Worship and Clergy at Or Chadash 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and at Temple Emanu-El 1:00-2:00 p.m.

    Please click on the buttons below to read the Task Force reports.

Sunday, November 3, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Reports from the Finance & Governance Task Forces

Sunday, November 17, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Reports from the Facilities & Religious School Task Forces

Sunday, December 8, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Reports from the Worship and Clergy Task Forces

  • The Ambassadors met to review proposals from consultants to assist our congregations in implementation of our move to a united congregation.  We will communicate to you the chosen consultant once the respective Boards have an opportunity to review the Ambassadors’ recommendation and take action.