June 20, 2023

Dear Friends,

As promised at our recent Annual Meeting, I am sharing a status report on our conversations with The Temple-Tifereth Israel. Please find a series of questions and answers below that will bring you up to date. I'm grateful to our Fairmount Temple Exploration Task Force committee members Patty Inglis, Keith Kerman, Shelley Milin Marcus, Todd Silverman, and Ed Weintraub, for their service representing Fairmount Temple in these conversations.


Julie Adler Raskind, Exploration Task Force Chair

Q: Why are TTTI (The Temple-Tifereth Israel) and ACFT (Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple) talking about collaboration? What are the goals?

TTTI and ACFT are both strong, vibrant temples with engaged and committed congregants. We are excited to learn more about each other and explore possible paths for collaboration and potential integration. We are working with experts and using detailed data on demographic trends to help us make the best decisions for the future. TTTI and ACFT have much in common. We are similar in size and membership demographics. We are both part of the Union for Reform Judaism and use the same prayerbook. We co-own Mayfield Cemetery. And both congregations share a desire to ensure a strong future. The goals of these discussions are to consider whether there are opportunities to work together in a more significant way, to meet the needs of all generations, and whether there are ways to share resources to achieve something together better than anything we could achieve on our own. Both temples are committed to a sustainable future for the next 180 years and excited to explore what we can do together!

Q: What is the process for making decisions?

Each temple has created an Exploration Task Force. The two groups are working with Panoramic Strategy, a professional consulting organization experienced in guiding organizations in similar situations. The consultants have mapped out the process into phases and have developed a structured process in which the two Task Forces jointly gather data, study it, and make informed recommendations. Any decisions require the approval of the Boards of both temples and congregational input.

Q: Is this decision to come together or merge already made?

No decisions have been made. We continue to have in-depth discussions about all the possibilities.

Q: Is there a projected time frame in which a preliminary conclusion will be determined?

Both Temples are aware of the importance of timing. Though this decision cannot be rushed, it is important to determine if these talks will lead to a complete combination, program-specific collaborations, or simply a continuing dialogue. Our preliminary goal is to have a proposal before the High Holidays 2023. Timing is important, but not a driver or constraint, because we are both approaching this from a position of strength.

Q Is there a target time frame for when the ACFT rehab will be completed?

Repairs are ongoing. Questions can be directed to ACFT’s Executive Director, Julianna Johnston Senturia here.

Q: What happens if we integrate? What building will we use?

We are currently in Phase One of this process, exploring possibilities. The question about the building is an important point and will be addressed in Phase Two of this process and will be studied carefully. Any decision must be approved by the Boards of both congregations and will include input from stakeholders.

Q: What could a combined congregation look like?

A combined congregation will be one of shared values and a unified vision that is financially strong for the next 100+ years. It will be a synagogue that is relevant and vibrant. It will have robust programming designed to suit the needs of its congregants. It will be a welcoming and caring community that stands together for social justice and takes care of its own. People of all walks of life will have a place under our tent to worship and observe and celebrate their Judaism in ways that are the most meaningful to them on an individual basis. Education of children will be easier and more efficient with more opportunities to learn and innovate – we will have more time, money and resources for the staff, teachers, and students.

Q: What types of new programming proposals are contemplated even if a merger isn’t the end result? Conversations continue, in tandem with this process, to seek opportunities for collaboration. For example, the two temples may consider joining forces for religious education and teen programming. These discussions have taken place frequently in the past. Other natural partnerships will be examined and could be implemented on their own.

Q: If a merger is the best option, have there been any discussions about the size of the new Board or Executive Committee?

That will be examined in detail during the next phase of this work.

Q: What is going to happen to our buildings?

A facilities plan will be developed during the next phase of this work. It is a very important aspect of any implementation.

Q: Which rabbi(s) will be in charge? What happens to the clergy? What about the staff and teachers?

These questions are critical and, like some of the other important considerations, will be taken up in the next phase of work.

Q: What is the process for providing input, and how do I express my concerns?

We value everyone’s feedback, questions, and concerns. Each congregation has set up an email address.

Inquiries and feedback will be reviewed, and we will try to address every question. You will have an opportunity to be a part of a decision to form any type of partnership or collaboration. We will provide further details when available. If we collectively decide to move forward, there will be opportunities to bring together diverse stakeholders within the congregations to consider how we adapt and grow together. Topics could include the approach to education, rituals, social action, programming, and engagement.

Q: How does this affect our family’s lifecycle events?

We will honor commitments to all our congregants. Lifecycle events will not be impacted.

Q: Will both temples have services for the upcoming High Holy Days?

Yes. Each congregation will hold scheduled services.

Q: What happens to the religious schools?

Both congregations are committed to providing a robust religious education experience.

Q: How will we preserve each congregation's unique legacy, traditions, and practices?

Both congregations have rich histories. We will honor those traditions while embracing the opportunity for innovation and creativity for the future.

Q: Will this affect my dues?

Both congregations are committed to embracing and welcoming all who want to affiliate with Reform Judaism. We will strive to ensure that cost is not a barrier to participation.

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