About a year ago, Temple Beth Emeth approached our congregation to explore the possibility of consolidating our congregations to create a single stronger presence of Reform Judaism in the portion of Brooklyn South of Prospect Park. The trustees agreed to entertain this possibility and a Consolidation Committee has been meeting with TBE’s committee for the past year to negotiate an agreement that would benefit the members of both congregations. At a special congregational meeting on April 2nd the committee presented the terms of the agreement and the reasons the committee was recommending this consolidation. We also gave those present an opportunity to express their concerns. The committee answered a number of those concerns at a subsequent congregational meeting on May 10th and again entertained your questions and concerns. And now, later this month at a Special Congregational Meeting on Wednesday, June 21st, you will be asked to vote on the consolidation with Temple Beth Emeth.
This has not been an easy process for the PTBAS Consolidation Committee. Half the committee was against the prospect of this consolidation when we first met prior to meeting with TBE’s committee for the first time. Our committee had many of the same concerns that you have – safety of the neighborhood, Saturday Shabbat services, condition of the building, dues, Cantor Bernstein’s role, positions for our staff, is there real growth, will we be eaten up, etc. However, as the consolidation meetings progressed in a respectful and constructive manner, the committee reached the unanimous conclusion that consolidating with TBE is the best way of
insuring the future of our beloved Temple. Many of you who have moved before are wary of yet another move, questioning whether the newly consolidated congregation will really survive for the remainder of our lifetimes and for future generations. There are no guarantees, but I can tell you that the neighborhood around TBE is rapidly changing for the better, in the same way Park Slope, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens did in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s reviving both Beth Elohim and Kane Street Synagogue.
As much as we love our Temple building, it’s just a building. We, the congregants, are the Temple. As long as we move as a family we will bring our liveliness, enthusiasm and spirit to wherever we go. I realize that this move is not easy. We’ve built a comfortable home here. For me, in particular, this is very hard as a part of me is in this building. But we need to face the reality that we are dwindling in our present location. Consolidating with TBE will give us the opportunity to create a new community where those ideas and activities that are very dear to us will continue for years to come.
At the congregational meeting on May 10th, I informed those present that the members of TBE’s consolidation committee offered to meet with you to give you an opportunity to address your concerns and questions. A congregational meeting for this purpose has been arranged for Tuesday, June 6th at 7:30 PM. I urge you to attend this meeting and feel free to express whatever’s on your mind concerning this matter. If you cannot attend please feel free to send your questions to my attention at the Temple office or a fellow congregant who will be attending.
Again this is not an easy decision, but throughout this process the Consolidation Committee has had only the best interests of the entire congregation in mind.