Shaare Emeth and Temple Israel announced plans Wednesday to consider a "new approach that no single congregation could accomplish on its own," a process that could see the two Reform Jewish congregations' membership vote on a merger as early as the end of 2013.
“At a time when congregations are facing great challenges around engaging and serving the unique needs of members, both congregations decided to work together to consider a new model,” said Rabbi Jim Bennett of Shaare Emeth in a press release.
“We want to build an innovative community that focuses on members and families with different needs,” Rabbi Amy Feder of Temple Israel said in the statement. “Bringing these congregations together would give members access to more resources and new services.”
While some congregations have explored mergers in recent years because of financial concerns, a set of Frequently Asked Questions about the process insists that is not the driving factor here:
Both of our congregations are strong financially and our missions are aligned. If we move forward, we would come together as equals, by choice. Together, our congregations could create cost efficiencies by combining services and programming we’re duplicating. This is a way to reinvest in our community, helping to build a stronger and more vibrant congregation. We view this as a merger of equals.
No decision has been made about where the new congregation would be located or what it would be called.
Wednesday's announcement said the recently announced collaboration between Shaare Emeth and B'nai El would be better served by the merger.
“We also expect to better engage members served by the ‘new B’nai El collaborative’ by bringing Temple Israel and Shaare Emeth together,” Rabbi Bennett said. “The results will be a stronger, more vibrant and sustainable Jewish community for all.”
Click here to read the full FAQ document.
Both congregations have scheduled town halls to answer questions about the process.
- Wednesday, April 24, 2013 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Shaare Emeth
- Tuesday, April 30, 2013 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Shaare Emeth
- Tuesday, May 7, 2013 from 5:15-7 p.m. at Shaare Emeth
- Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 7 p.m. at Temple Israel
- Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 2 p.m. at Temple Israel