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November 2019 - Ambassadors' Report

11/20/2019 10:33:15 AM


Ambassadors’ Report

November 2019

November Monthly Report

NOTE: Please see upcoming Town Hall Meetings dates and list of members of the Task Forces at the end of the column.

At our Ambassadors meeting, held on the evening after Yom Kippur, we discussed some of the common questions raised by our congregants, both in group meetings and on an individual basis.  One such theme was the concern regarding whether it was necessary for our congregations to begin this conversation in the first place.  When we began down this road, we researched both national and local trends.  We also spoke to lay leaders of congregations in the country for their reasons to join another synagogue.  And, we contacted the URJ for their take on national trends. 

After a brief period of time, we learned about national trends of decreasing membership and increasing financial hardships.  As our society at large becomes more secular, there is a diminishing desire for Jewish people to be affiliated with any synagogue.  A recent study indicated more Americans are identifying as being Jewish, but belonging to a local shul is not a top priority.  And finally, charitable donations to non-religious institutions compete vigorously for the limited funds available in a family’s budget.

There is a clear advantage to staying ahead of these national trends.  Though Tucson has experienced a slow return from the recession and overall limited rates of affiliation with religious institutions, neither of us are at the point of shutting our doors.  Both congregations have been experiencing financial difficulties, but not so much as to warrant a complete shutdown.  If we do nothing, both of our groups will see changes in programming, services and operations. 

However, Or Chadash and Temple have a history of sharing core values, sharing in the vision of Reform Judaism and sharing a love of worship, music, youth engagement and social action.  The Ambassadors’ conversations have brought to light many similarities and successful collaborations.  Our initial Task Forces have been asked to explore specific areas to identify the shared vision, cultural similarities, as well as any significant hurdles to the possibility of a joint partnership.  See the Task Forces and delegates below.

In this coming month of November, the Reports from the Task Forces will be distributed to the congregations.  Town hall meetings are scheduled throughout November to review and discuss each report, see the schedule below.  Our congregants will have opportunities to learn more about each area of concern and to be fully informed before any vote to decide if we continue toward a merger is made.  The schedule will be posted on our websites as well.

As always, we appreciate your concern, commitment and passion that you bring to this conversation.  Please send your thoughts and comments to our shared email account at  We look forward to our continued conversations and everything you bring to our congregation.


Jerry Cohen

Jeff Rein

Scott Arden

Mark Ross

Gary Kippur


Real Estate/Fixed Assets/Facilities           

Steve Tofel

Ron Schneider

Bill Viner

Mo Riback

Lanny Colton

Andy Seleznov



Harold Blatter

Andy Iventosch

Amy Ruskin

Marjorie Hochberg

Kathlynn Saboda

Cantor Janece Cohen

Sarah Bollt



Rabbi Batsheva Appel

Scott Arden

Joe Millstone

Rabbi Thomas Louchheim

Emily Joseph



Simon Rosenblatt

Mona Gibson

Harriet Kronman

Howard Paley


Joint Efforts/Collaborations        

Donna Beyer

Rina Liebeskind

Elaine Jones



Scott Arden

Gary Kippur

Mona Gibson

Elaine Jones


Religious Schools             

Abby Limmer

Brie Finegold

Rina Liebeskind

Suzie Stadheim

Jill Sobieszyk


Town Hall Meetings:

For each date, there will be a meeting held at Or Chadash in the morning and at Temple Emanu-El, in the Sy Juster, at 12:12 – 1:45 PM.

11/03/2019 – Finance and Governance

11/17/2019 – Religious School and Facilities

12/08/2019 – Worship and Clergy

Sat, January 23 2021 10 Sh'vat 5781