Financial Sustainability Task Force

Mission:

To examine and consider funding models to ensure the sustainability of Temple Sinai beyond 2020, consistent with Temple Sinai's values, and to help us to maintain our sacred, vibrant, relationship-based community, and if appropriate, to propose an alternative model and transition plan.

 

Letter from the Chair 

Dear Friends -

Over the last several years, there have been many conversations about the changing Jewish demographics and how Jews today choose to engage within their Jewish community.  There has been an ongoing dialogue about the role of the synagogue and its value to Jews in the 21st century.  This raises questions about how the synagogue will fit into peoples’ lives in the future, and ultimately how synagogues will ensure their own financial sustainability. 

Rabbi Dan Judson, a former congregational rabbi and current Director at the Hebrew College Rabbinical School is the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) expert on contemporary synagogue finances. Several of us have heard Rabbi Judson speak on this topic at the URJ Biennials, and when he was here in Pittsburgh in 2013.  I have also met with him personally to explore the relevance of this topic to Temple Sinai.

He commented to me that it is best to engage in this emerging and national topic from a position of strength.  Indeed, today, Temple Sinai is a vibrant and relatively financially strong synagogue.  Yet, we face the same financial challenges as every other synagogue does, especially as Jewish population continues to decline.

For these reasons, in 2014, the board formed a task force whose mission is:

To examine and consider funding models to ensure the sustainability of Temple Sinai beyond 2020, consistent with Temple Sinai's values, and to help us to maintain our sacred, vibrant, relationship-based community, and if appropriate, to propose an alternative model and transition plan.

So we are eager to engage in conversations with you about this important topic.   We have a cross-demographic team and we are educating ourselves and the Temple Sinai board.  This will prepare us to talk with you about what you want from Temple Sinai, the value of the synagogue to you as well as your thoughts about alternative financial models.  We will then evaluate  our discussions, form a recommendation, create a proposal, and if appropriate, develop a plan for transition.

We have also engaged the services of Debbie Joseph Consulting to help guide our approach.  She will give us guidance as well as information on congregations who’ve considered and/or made a move to something new, a voluntary dues program. Debbie is a co-author of “Are Voluntary Dues Right for Your Synagogue: A Practical Guide”, that was published by the UJA Federation of New York. 

Let me emphasize that, as of now, we have no commitment or intention to change our dues structure or approach.  What we do have is a commitment to a conversation – and exploration – on this topic to determine if there is a better approach to funding our program at Temple Sinai

The most important thing we’ve learned so far is that…

The foundation for any sustainable financial future is an engaged and committed congregation...and you are critical to this journey. 

We’ll use surveys and focus groups over the next year, after the High Holidays.  Whatever the schedule and form of engagement – please, please participate  – as you are what will enable this conversation to be effective.

With your help, we hope to have a recommendation by the middle of next year.

Please contact me with any questions or if you’d like me to send you any of the reading materials.

B’shalom-

John M. Schiller

Sustainability Task Force Chair

[email protected]

 

Annual Meeting Presentation 

Timeline

Suggested Reading

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