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Kehilat Hadar & Shaare Zedek

Last updated October 29, 2023

Kehilat Hadar is engaged in Joint Operations with Shaare Zedek, and in ongoing discussions regarding a phased integration of our communities, with the hope that, if everything goes well, both communities would move into a new, wholly-owned space on West 93rd Street when construction is complete.

Since the Board of Trustees of Shaare Zedek first approached us, the KH Board and our broader leadership have thought deeply about Kehilat Hadar’s future and how this opportunity could provide us with a platform to strengthen and grow our communities together. As part of this exploration, we crafted a joint vision statement together with Shaare Zedek’s leadership that illustrates a shared vision.

The first phase of this integration is called “Joint Operations,” during which our communities come together for Shabbat services at Kehilat Hadar’s current space and certain additional programming.

A Coordinating Committee of leaders from both communities oversaw the collaboration during Joint Operations and guided us through planning for future stages of integration. The Kehilat Hadar representatives on the Coordinating Committee were Emily Scharfman, Steven Melzer, Max Arad, and Ashira Konigsburg.

A brief timeline of events

  • In September 2018, the Board of Trustees of Shaare Zedek approached the Board of Trustees of Kehilat Hadar (the “KH Board”) to explore whether both communities would be interested in uniting together over the next few years. It is anticipated that Shaare Zedek will move in to a new space comprising a multi-use sanctuary, classrooms, and social hall on the first three wholly-owned floors of a new building on West 93rd Street between Broadway and Amsterdam, in the place of the former Shaare Zedek building, in Spring 2021.
  • The KH Board appointed a Task Force to engage in meaningful discussions with Shaare Zedek to determine if a multi-year phased approach to integrate both communities would be desirable and feasible for the Kehilat Hadar community, both now and in the future. These conversations focused on the religious, programmatic, governance, and financial aspects of both communities.
  • In December 2018, the Task Force completed its evaluation and presented it to the KH Board. The KH Board voted in favor of pursuing good faith negotiations with the intention of preparing for, and defining, “Joint Operations” to commence on October 26, 2019.
  • In January and February 2019, the KH Board engaged the team leads of KH for feedback and appointed a dedicated team, chaired by Ashira Konigsburg and Emily Scharfman, to continue this next phase of conversations.
  • The KH Board shared these updates in an email to voting members in advance of our March 2019 Annual Meeting and provided an opportunity for all who wanted to participate to give feedback at that meeting.
  • Volunteers from both the KH and SZ communities met (and continue to meet) in dedicated workstreams focusing on the ritual, programmatic, governance, financial operational, family, and communications aspects of Joint Operations.
  • In June and July 2019, members of the KH Board held several Q&A sessions for KH community members to discuss the vision and process for integration with SZ. There was also a “town hall” meeting for families with children from both communities.
  • In July 2019, KH and SZ finalized a Joint Operations agreement which was unanimously approved by both the KH and the SZ Boards.
  • Also in July 2019, the voting members of Kehilat Hadar and the members of Shaare Zedek each approved moving forward with Joint Operations at their respective community meetings.
  • Joint Operations commenced on Shabbat Bereshit, October 26, 2019.


What does Joint Operations mean?

Joint Operations refers to KH and SZ davening together on Shabbat at the Solomon Schechter school and holding some other joint programming, between October 2019 and the opening of the new building.

Shaare Zedek and Kehilat Hadar still operate independently for purposes of governance, membership, finances, and even specific programs and certain services. We are collaborating on most Shabbat morning services, children and family programming on Shabbat morning, and most community meals and learning. Kehilat Hadar and Shaare Zedek community members all participate in leading services, sponsoring kiddush, and volunteering to support programs. The two communities equitably share the costs of combined programming.

Members of our Board, Steering Team, Kiddush Team, Shamash Team, Programming Team, and a newly-created Family Team are working together with corresponding volunteers from Shaare Zedek, to collaborate on all aspects of Joint Operations, from big picture issues to the specifics of running services and other programs. 

Read a summary of the Joint Operations Agreement.

How can I help?

Both the Kehilat Hadar and the Shaare Zedek communities thrive on volunteerism and collaboration. Consider lending a hand with a new program; sharing meals with community members; or volunteering to lead a service or sponsor a kiddush. Please also be on the lookout for new faces to welcome at Shabbat davening.

The Kehilat Hadar board also welcomes feedback from our community. Please contact a member of the Kehilat Hadar Board of Trustees, or email president@kehilathadar.org with any questions, comments, or concerns. We will continue sharing updates and holding opportunities for the community to ask questions about the merger as we move forward.

How do I participate in formal community votes?

Voting members of Kehilat Hadar are entitled to vote at formal meetings. We determine voting membership each January based on donation or volunteer history from the previous calendar year. (If you are interested in becoming a voting member of Kehilat Hadar, please see our Membership page for more information.) The next vote planned for this process will be prior to moving into the new building along with Shaare Zedek.

How does Joint Operations impact Kehilat Hadar’s finances?

During Joint Operations, Kehilat Hadar and Shaare Zedek equitably share rental costs and any other expenses for joint programs. Since rent is Kehilat Hadar’s highest expense by far, sharing that cost allows us to invest more in programming. 

Kehilat Hadar-specific costs – like High Holiday-related costs, insurance, technology, and supplies – remain the responsibility of Kehilat Hadar. Due diligence around the community integration is an additional cost we anticipate for 2020.

Kehilat Hadar continues to rely on contributions from our community, including during High Holiday registration, program contributions, and donations throughout the year to fund our programs. 

The new space: what, where, and when?

The new building is being built at 212 West 93rd Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. It is in the same location as the previous Shaare Zedek building, which stood there for 96 years. The new building is a modern 14-floor condominium with 20 residential units.

Shaare Zedek will own three floors of the building – the basement level, street level, and second floor – with a private entrance and elevator. The street level includes a large multi-use prayer space, a smaller library / prayer space, restrooms, offices, and meeting rooms. The basement features a large open hall with side skylights, a warming kitchen, restrooms, coatroom, and storage rooms. The second floor will have several classrooms, a pantry, restrooms, and a large private terrace where a sukkah can be built.

The building is targeted to open shortly, assuming all goes according to plan. Shaare Zedek is working with the architects and developer to ensure that the new space meets their needs. Shaare Zedek has shared their building plans with us and  members of Kehilat Hadar are informed on, and involved with, the building and design process.

Is KH consulting with outside professionals?

We are working with our counsel, Peter Cohen-Millstein of Linklaters, who has represented Kehilat Hadar for several years and has experience in non-profit law. He is performing legal diligence, and will guide us in the drafting of all necessary documents.

We are engaging professional financial advisors from Support Center to assist with our understanding of our current and future financial environments.

We were also guided by a consultant from UJA-Federation who has significant experience with advising on community integrations during the early stages of this process.

What does davening look like during Joint Operations?

Our Shabbat morning services look and feel like they did before – spirited, songful, lay-led, and egalitarian, and we are excited to have added new daveners, leyners, drashers, and participants  to the mix. No changes have been made to the layout of services… except for adding more chairs!

The KH Board continues to be available for questions and feedback throughout this process.

Sat, July 20 2024 14 Tammuz 5784