Last updated June 13, 2019
At our Annual Meeting in March 2019, we shared with our voting members that we have been engaged in meaningful discussions with Shaare Zedek regarding a potential 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 in Fall 2020.
In the ten months 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 will be “Joint Operations,” during which our communities will come together for Shabbat services at Kehilat Hadar’s current space and certain additional programming. We intend to start Joint Operations on Shabbat Bereshit, October 26, 2019.
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 in late 2020, assuming everything goes according to plan, 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.
- 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.
- At the meeting, voting members shared insightful and thoughtful feedback. In general, they were excited by the vision of expanding our vibrant community and wanted to ensure that we preserve and elevate those elements that make Kehilat Hadar so special.
Other steps taken include:
- Working with a consultant from UJA-Federation of New York to help guide us through this process.
- Engaging legal and financial advisors for due diligence.
The KH Board continues to be available for questions and feedback throughout this process.
What is going on with Kehilat Hadar and Shaare Zedek?
In September 2018, Shaare Zedek’s board approached us to explore whether our two communities would be interested in uniting over the next few years. It is anticipated that in late 2020, Shaare Zedek will move in to a new space comprising a multi-use prayer space, classrooms, and a large open hall on the first three, wholly-owned floors of a new building on West 93rd Street, on the site of the former Shaare Zedek building.
In late 2018, the boards of both communities voted to explore the possibility of integrating our communities. After initial exploratory meetings, each board designated trustees to form a joint task force, which has created a multi-year plan for a phased approach to integrate our communities. The Kehilat Hadar board presented this information to voting members at the 2019 Annual Meeting.
Where are we now?
The task force and boards have been working to prepare for potential Joint Operations beginning in October 2019.
To ensure that community members are informed about our progress, both Kehilat Hadar and Shaare Zedek will continue holding community meetings and Q&A sessions to share updates and receive feedback. In Summer 2019, members of both communities will vote on the option to begin Joint Operations.
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 would still be operating independently for purposes of governance, membership, finances, and even specific programs and certain services. We will be collaborating around most Shabbat morning services, kids programming on Shabbat morning, and most community meals and learning. Kehilat Hadar and Shaare Zedek community members will all participate in leading services, sponsoring kiddush, and volunteering to support programs. The two communities will 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 will be 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 come to one of our Q&A sessions, or contact a member of the Kehilat Hadar Board of Trustees, or email firstname.lastname@example.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 in 2020, please see our Membership page for more information.) We are having a Community Meeting on July 17, 2019 to provide more details and ask voting members to approve Joint Operations.
How would Joint Operations impact Kehilat Hadar’s finances?
During Joint Operations, Kehilat Hadar and Shaare Zedek would equitably share rental costs and any other expenses for joint programs. Since rent is Kehilat Hadar’s highest expense by far, sharing that cost will allow us to invest more in programming.
Kehilat Hadar-specific costs - like High Holiday-related costs, insurance, technology, and supplies - will remain the responsibility of Kehilat Hadar.
Kehilat Hadar will continue 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 in Fall 2020, 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 provides updates on progress. During Joint Operations, members of Kehilat Hadar will be informed on, and potentially involved with, the building and design process.
What outside professionals is KH consulting?
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 will be engaging professional financial advisors to assist with our understanding of our current and future financial environments.
We are also guided by a consultant from UJA-Federation who has significant experience with advising on community integrations.
What will davening look like during Joint Operations?
Our Shabbat morning services will look and feel like they do now - spirited, songful, lay-led, and egalitarian, and we are excited to add new daveners, leyners, drashers, and participants to the mix. There are no planned changes to the layout of services...except for adding more chairs! To help Shaare Zedek members feel at-home is that we will be including the Silverman siddur among our many siddur options.
Even though we will often be operating jointly, there will still be some Kehilat Hadar- or Shaare Zedek-only services. For example, we anticipate each community holding their own High Holiday services.