Dear friends,

Months ago we came to you with the concept of Chadash, an idea developed in conjunction with Shomrei Torah Synagogue, to explore whether the time was right to join together and create an entirely new way of viewing and practicing Conservative Judaism in West Hills, and possibly beyond. 
In embarking on this Chadash process, our communities have taken on a holy and somewhat audacious task: How do we create language for something that has not yet been experienced? How do we articulate something so new to Jewish communal life - something so exciting between Shomrei Torah Synagogue and Temple Aliyah that words don’t do it justice?
This is the challenge we face as we define the exploration taking place between our two synagogues. It is easy for people to refer to our enterprise as a merger because that is the language people expect when two synagogues come together - especially two synagogues who share such similar communities; but in truth, what we imagine is so much more. Our two communities are exploring the creation of a new model of Jewish communal life that honors the traditional role of a synagogue and reaches untapped communities in ways never before contemplated. Our model is exploring the creation of new entry points for people to experience Jewish life no matter where they are on their Jewish or spiritual journey. Cognizant of new trends in virtual communities, this model seeks multiple modalities of interaction, multiple ways to be together in prayer and community. The range of possibilities does not yet exist. Our work is to envision it and as Herzl said, “if you will it, it is not a dream.”
As you will recall, Phase 1 brought together six subcommittees – Culture, Programs, Ritual, Education, Outreach, and Finance – to explore what’s possible together. All sub-committees were co-chaired by a lay leader and included representatives from each synagogue community. A seventh subcommittee, Vision, was co-chaired by Rabbis Camras and Vogel and included representatives from both synagogues, the grown children of some members, and The Jewish Federation (including CEO Jay Sanderson). 
As we close out the calendar year, we offer here some next steps. 
We explained that this exploration was going to take place in phases and that we would keep you informed of each phase as we moved through the process. As we near the end of Phase 1 we want to advise you of the following:

  • A full report on Phase 1, including discussion highlights and findings from each subcommittee, is being prepared and will be circulated to the communities in mid-January. 
  • We will host separate meetings for each synagogue community January 25. Please join us for Temple Aliyah's meeting on January 25th at 7:30pm. Click here to RSVP.
  • The Boards of Directors of each synagogue will meet separately after the synagogue community meeting to determine whether to proceed to Phase 2 of exploration. 

Where Phase 1 involved the initial exploration, phase 2, if approved by the Boards of Directors, will involve a detailed analysis of what’s required to operationalize the shared vision, and will likely span from February 2021 to June 2021.
Thank you for your support with this pioneering work. Wishing you a good and safe new year.

Julie Davine