(Editor’s note: This is a revised version of an earlier story)
The congregants of Temple Shalom needed a two-thirds vote to move into The Temple’s Klein Center and give up its current home on Lowe Road. But on Sunday, Dec. 22, more than half of them voted to stay.
The outcome of the vote – 135 to 56 to not move to The Temple – was not a surprise to Temple Shalom President Rich Goldwin.
“When we started having conversations with the folks from The Temple, I said I really did not think that we would get a two-thirds vote in favor,” Goldwin said. “We did our best to try and put together a program we thought might be helpful, but in the end, it just wasn’t what people wanted.”
The sentimentality that members have toward the Lowe Road building played a large part, Goldwin said.
“The furnishings were made by members of Temple Shalom, and they just don’t want to leave that. And there were serious questions as to whether or not the Klein Center would have worked for us.”
Temple President Reed Weinberg said his congregation was excited by the prospect of having two congregations on one campus.
“That said, I totally respect their (Temple Shalom) decision,” he said. “My position – and I’m sure the position of most people at The Temple – is if they want to stay where they are, we hope that they succeed, and that would be great for the Jewish community if they did.”
Matt Schwartz, immediate past president of The Temple, has been involved with the discussions and negotiations since the beginning.
“Certainly, we’re disappointed just because we’ve enjoyed the process of engaging with them more, seeing if there was a path that would be helpful to both of us,” Schwartz said. “But the fact is, we’ve had a long-standing positive relationship with Temple Shalom. We do a lot of joint programming, and we’ve had a lot of interaction, and I think we’ll continue that and will probably expand upon it. And if there’s something in the future that that develops, we will still be here.”
Weinberg said the just-completed negotiations between the two congregations will continue.
“I think that over the past 12 months we’ve seen tremendous synergy amongst all the congregations of Louisville,” he said, “and I think that’s very important.”
Temple Shalom now must make a concerted effort to stay in the building, finding ways to raise money and attract new members.
“There were a variety of factors that I think drove people to choose the way they did,” Goldwin said, “so now we’re asking everybody, ‘OK, you can agree or disagree, but let’s get back together and let’s be a unified congregation again.’’’
That process began on Sunday, Jan. 5, when Temple Shalom held a members-only “Fresh Start” event to renew ties, look forward and put the space-sharing debate behind them.
And many congregants stayed after the Dec. 22 vote to hear the final count and discuss ways to move forward. One member volunteered to be a volunteer coordinator. Another chose to lead the organization’s Second Night Seder, which last year had 120 participants.
“That’s the kind of thing that we want,” Goldwin said. We want more things that the members will participate in.”Goldwin said the congregation is already holding a regular bingo night on Tuesdays to raise money. “We’re just taking a look at everything we do, and not just from a financial point of view, but how we interact with the members,” he said. “What can we do to make our place more attractive to some of the younger or unaffiliated families?”
While fundraising is important to the congregation’s future, he said engagement is the goal.
“We’re going to try some new things, not just fundraising; it’s trying to get people more involved with the life of the congregation. “I think this has been quite a distraction for us, but now we can go back to being Temple Shalom again.”