The Temple, Temple Shalom to vote on space-sharing proposal

In a proposal that could create a Reform Judaism “campus” in the East End, Temple Shalom and The Temple are considering a space-sharing arrangement that would keep both congregations independent.
Both boards have voted to recommend the proposal, which must still be approved by the memberships of each congregation. It’s not yet clear when those votes will be held.
It is not a merger, leaders from both congregations say.
If the members vote yes, and details are worked out, then Temple Shalom would move into The Temple’s Klein Center on Lime Kiln Lane. The Temple’s sanctuary would be available to Temple Shalom members for large events, such as weddings and b’nai mitzvah.
“We would never want to do something like this without the support of both congregations,” said Matt Schwartz, outgoing president of The Temple. “We want both of our congregations to be very supportive [of the plan].”
The proposal comes as synagogues in Louisville and nationwide wrestle with declining affiliation rates and the costs that come with maintaining their buildings.
“Over the years, we grew to a congregation of about 220 families,” said Temple Shalom President Dr. Richard Goldwin. “Unfortunately, people have passed away. We lost 13 family members in the past year alone. Out of the 44 people who were founders, we have only five that remain with us. It became apparent that we were having a problem.”
About 15 months ago, Keiron O’Connell, then-outgoing president of Temple Shalom, asked Amos Benjamin, another TS member, to chair what they called the Fifth Decade Committee, addressing the congregation’s sustainability. The committee studied several possible options. Based on an offer from The Temple, the panel recommended the Klein Center proposal.
Temple Shalom and The Temple are part of the Louisville Council of Jewish Congregations, which hired a consulting firm last year to study synagogue sustainability (see story, page 4). One reality they learned is that millennials are less interested in building ownership than they are in the Jewish mission.
“They want to be more active in social justice,” Goldwin said. “[But] Temple Shalom is not a building, it’s a family.”
Goldwin said Temple Shalom members have mixed feelings about moving. Many are supportive, while others have questions and concerns.
Schwartz said his congregants are optimistic about the idea.
“We feel like we want to welcome them,” Schwartz said. “We want to make this a very positive transition. We know this is not an easy thing from their perspective; if the tables were turned and we were thinking about being at a different place, it would be hard. I think on our side, we really are trying to do everything we can to move toward the positive.”
Schwartz said he hopes that sharing space will help the two congregations become closer and offer more options for younger people to be involved in synagogue life.
The Temple and Temple Shalom have already collaborated on several events and programs.
Working together, “There’s just more opportunity with education and interfaith relations and tikkun olam and just social activity,” Schwartz said. “We’ve got a lot of opportunities there.”
“It’s a strategic move,” he added, “but we’ll be stronger together.”
If the arrangement happens, Temple Shalom would take its ritual objects and furnishings to the new building. That includes its ark doors, bima and foyer furnishings, all of which were designed and made by its own members.
Many details must still be worked out, Goldwin said. “It’s a work in progress, but we are going to be here. Somehow, somewhere, in some form, there will be a Temple Shalom.”

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