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March 18, 2019 - Letter to Congregants

11/03/2019 07:17:58 AM


Dear Congregants,

Congregation Or Chadash and Temple Emanu-El have realized for the past few years that we have an opportunity to explore combined strengths.  Recently, we have begun considering how each congregation may benefit from collaborative efforts in providing education and spiritual programs. 

In recent years, most 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 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 providing programs and services.  Generally, the 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 8th Grade trip to Jewish Los Angeles where the kids from both of our schools, as well as other schools in Tucson, take our students to explore the museums and have a uniquely Jewish experience. 

Approximately one year ago, the presidents from each congregation began a conversation about the possibility of future coordination of activities between the two congregations.  Since then, we have expanded our group to include a small group of lay leaders.  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 each went home in our own cars.  We are currently exploring additional opportunities for collaboration and are only beginning to look at the incredible number of issues for review 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:   email address here.

We look forward to communicating with you regularly as we continue exploring this unique time in the history of our synagogues and in the greater Tucson Jewish community.


Mona L Gibson                                                                  Ben Vogel

Temple Emanu-El                                                              Congregation Or Chadash

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