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 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 the findings of the various Task Forces that were charged with envisioning the benefits and issues that could occur by joining together:

  • 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

NOTE: Voting will be in January 2020

You can reach the Ambassadors at

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

Check back soon for a report from our Religious School Task Force!

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

Worship Services Task Force Report

Check back soon for a report from our Worship Services Task Force!

  • 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 first Town Hall meeting to roll out two of our Task Force reports was held on Sunday, November 3, 2019. As promised, these first reports from the Finance and Governance Task Forces were emailed to our members and are available above. The meetings at each synagogue were well attended, and we thank you all for your continued interest and fabulous questions.

    The representatives of our Finance Task Force, Gary Kippur at Or Chadash, and Jeff Rein at Temple Emanu-El reviewed a spreadsheet of our congregations’ combined budgets and projections for the future. Our current budgets demonstrate the financial difficulties that we both have in having enough revenue from dues, fees, and donations to support our personnel, facilities, administration, and operations. Continuation on our current paths will ensure decreased programming, pay cuts, and loss of membership. A future together enhances our combined efforts to offer Reform Judaism in southern Arizona in a fiscally responsible manner. The projected budget supports the belief that together we can ensure that our mission continues beyond our generation.

    Harriet Kronman of Or Chadash represented the Governance Task Force and used a PowerPoint presentation to review the issues addressed by this group. A careful review of the bylaws of each congregation showed some differences, but enough similarities to make a combined document easily attainable. The greatest issue to be handled is the creation of a new Board of Directors to be effective at the time of the new merged congregation. A proposed timeline was created in order for the task force participants to figure out a process by which to create the new Board. To resolve this issue, the task force proposed each congregation’s Nominating Committee as developed by their usual process to combine forces in the transition period and work out the slate of Officers and Directors to present for a vote to our congregants. New task forces would need to be created to address the new congregation’s name, Articles of Incorporation, and Bylaws.

    The schedule of upcoming Town Hall meetings is provided below. At these meetings, our goal is to continue to review and discuss each new report. 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’ll post the schedule on our websites.

    11/17/2019 – Religious School and Facilities
    12/08/2019 – Worship and Clergy

    These Town Hall meetings will be from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Or Chadash and 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El. Members of each task force will attend the meetings to review and discuss their findings.

    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