Statements from the Leadership of AJ and KI Regarding the Consolidation

[Archived from February 06, 2009]

[by Robert H. Sachs]

The AJ-KI Consolidation Committee was charged by the board of each congregation to develop a Plan of Consolidation. Sharon Weissbach and I served as co-coordinators of the Committee. After nine months of intensive work, the Committee submitted its plan to the board of each congregation. The plan was the product of research, analysis, creativity and negotiation.

The consolidation process ended last month with the decision of the KI board not to recommend the plan to its congregants.

I’d like to thank Sharon, my co-coordinator, and all of the members of the committee and its constituent sub-committees for their dedication to the process over the nine months of work. Both congregations are lucky to have such talented and committed members.

As you might imagine, the process presented many opportunities for disagreement. In virtually all instances, this disagreement was managed by the committee in an orderly and mature fashion. Members of the committee and the sub-committees can be proud of their work and the plan it produced.

While I would have preferred to see the process end in a vote by the congregants of both KI and AJ, I am nonetheless convinced that both congregations are stronger by virtue of their participation in the effort.

Serious issues led to the creation of the Joint Consolidation Committee. Those issues remain. I hope each congregation will now turn its efforts to addressing those problems in a context other than consolidation.

Editor’s note: The following statement was provided by Yael Melzer, president of Congregation Keneseth Israel, and Frankye Gordon, president of Congregation Adath Jeshurun.

In March, 2008, the boards of directors of Louisville’s two Conservative synagogues, Adath Jeshurun and Keneseth Israel, appointed a committee to study the option of consolidating and creating one new Conservative synagogue with a new name and a new identity, built equitably on the historical strengths and traditions of both congregations. In the course of the work of the Consolidation Committee it became clear that there was not unanimity of opinion in either congregation concerning the benefits of consolidation.

Those in favor of the concept believed that, among other things, a combined larger synagogue would be more efficient and cost-effective. Many of those opposed felt that it was better to have more diversity in the Louisville Jewish community for as long as possible.

In order for the specific consolidation plan formulated by the Consolidation Committee to be implemented, the committee proposal would first have to be approved and recommended by each board of directors at the two synagogues and, only after approval, would it move on to a full congregational vote.

The Final Consolidation Plan was brought to a vote on January 15. After analyzing and studying the Final Consolidation Plan, and input from over 100 congregants, the Keneseth Israel Board deemed the specific Consolidation Plan, as submitted, unbalanced and not in the best interest of the congregation. Accordingly the Keneseth Israel board voted overwhelmingly not to recommend this specific Consolidation Plan to the congregation.

The overall consolidation proposal was also considered in depth by the Board of Directors at Adath Jeshurun, which voted to approve and recommend the plan.

Now that it is clear that Louisville’s two Conservative congregations will maintain their own identities for the present time, both will move on and define their objectives independently. This looking toward the future will be enhanced by efforts, which were taking place parallel to the work of the Consolidation Committee.

A Vision Subcommittee generated a variety of ideas for building a vibrant community within the synagogue and these concepts can be applied in two synagogues as well as in one. Beginning in the fall of 2008, a combined Sunday school began operating with students from Temple Shalom, Adath Jeshurun and Keneseth Israel.

There is also a Programming Committee in place, which can develop joint cultural and educational programs. A combined United Synagogue Youth chapter, involving teens from both A.J. and K.I., has been functioning successfully for over 10 years and that will continue.

The ultimate conclusion of this extensive effort involving many hours of work by many individuals may not have resulted in one combined synagogue but certainly there is great potential for increased interaction between the two synagogues with countless advantages for both.

We would like to thank Sharon Weissbach and Bob Sachs, the Consolidation Committee facilitators, and all the Committee and Subcommittees members who worked diligently for ten months on developing a roadmap for consolidation. We recognize and appreciate their hard work, dedication and many accomplishments.

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