Dating & Courtship

Unique Journey to a Marriage

Almost two years ago three members of B’nai Tzedek and two members of
Ohav Shalom met to consider the possibility of uniting their two synagogues.
As none of these individuals had any experience in such a monumental task,
Richard Freidman, who has been a key figure in many Jewish organizations,
was brought in as a consultant to help direct the process. Through Dick’s direction,
we first sought to determine our congregants core values to determine if
we were compatible.

We were!

Next we formed a steering committee made up of six members from each congregation.
Our first task was to write mission and vision statements. It was
amazing how difficult and how long it took to compose these critical 84 words.
These words though, are the cornerstone of the philosophy of our new Etz
Chaim synagogue, a new name reflecting our blending into one entity, and one
chosen by all our congregants.

The really hard work started when we began to collect data about our two synagogues
including finances, our respective buildings, demographics, and personnel.
This information was needed in order to make an informed decision
as to which building would be our new home. In an exercise in empathy, each
synagogue group on the steering committee made the case to move to the other’s
synagogue. In the end, it was decided that the synagogue on Cornell Rd.
would be our new home, and this decision was approved by the members of
both synagogues.

During the last twelve months we began to share Shabbat services and various
programs so that our congregants would get to know one another. Also, during
this time, steering committee members and congregants preferred thinking of
our unification as a marriage rather than a merger, since it was about two synagogues,
and not two corporations. This idea had tremendous appeal, and so
we decided to officially introduce our new synagogue, Etz Chaim, to the Jewish
Community through having a wedding ceremony.