March 28, 2019
Congregation Or Chadash and Temple Emanu-El have realized over the past few years that we have an opportunity to explore combined strengths. Recently, we have begun to consider how each congregation may benefit from collaborative efforts in providing education and spiritual programs.
In recent years, synagogues in the Tucson area (and nationwide) have experienced decreasing membership and slowing donations and dues. This has placed a financial burden on our shuls, making it difficult to serve our congregants and the greater Jewish community, let alone reach out to the unaffiliated in our area.
A growing nationwide trend is for congregations to share facilities or to collaborate on programs and services. Generally, two or three synagogues will have cooperative ventures while discussion takes place regarding further collaboration.
Our two congregations have worked together to pool resources and collaborate on serving our congregants, especially our Religious School students. One such example is the 7th and 8th Grade trip to Jewish Los Angeles, where the students from both of our schools, as well as other schools in Tucson, explore the museums and have a uniquely Jewish experience.
The presidents from each congregation have assembled a small group of lay leaders, and we have already had two meetings. Our respective clergy and administrative staff are aware of these discussions.
Many leaders of synagogues who have undergone such a process liken this stage to a courtship. And though we have met for dinner a couple of times, we’re still just getting to know one another. We are currently exploring additional opportunities for collaboration and are only beginning to look at the myriad of issues as we continue in building this relationship.
As we continue this process, we want to hear from you. Our lay leadership group includes: Dana Adler, Scott Arden, Brie Finegold, Elaine Jones, Gary Kippur, Joe Millstone, Steve Tofel, Mona Gibson, and Ben Vogel. We have created a single email address that will be monitored by each congregation’s delegation: JewishTucson@gmail.com. This email is the preferred method of communication so that your comments and suggestions can be logged in a single location and viewed by all delegates.
We look forward to communicating with you regularly as we continue to explore this unique time in the history of our synagogues and in the greater Tucson Jewish community.
Mona L. Gibson Benjamin Vogel
Temple Emanu-El Congregation Or Chadash