March 9, 2014 / 7 Adar II 5774
After months of discussion and evaluation, our kehillot have voted not to accept the new dues system proposed by the United Synagogue board. The decision was made today in a vote (418 yes, 476 no and 5 abstentions) by representatives of 318 synagogues participating in the meeting of our General Assembly of Kehillot. (TBS cast its 4 votes to approve the motion. ed.)
Before discussing next steps, we’d like to note the marked sea change this vote represents in the governance of United Synagogue and its relationship with affiliated kehillot. From beginning to end, the process was transparent and participatory. Kehilla representatives sat on the task force that developed the plan and took part in extensive learning and feedback sessions after it was formally proposed.
We appreciate the thoughtful conversations you have had with your boards on the dues issue. And we’re proud that we kept the promise, made in our 2011 Strategic Plan, of developing what we believed was a fairer dues system and leaving the decision on its adoption to you, our congregational leaders.
Now you have spoken, and although many of you supported the new system, the majority, for various reasons, saw it as off the mark. The question is what happens next? What does the “no” vote mean for your synagogue dues in particular and for the dues system generally?
For the remainder of this fiscal year and until a new dues system is adopted, the current dues system will remain in place. It is our intention during this time to put together an interim plan for FY 14-15 that we expect to bring before a special session of the GA sometime in the future. Then we will revisit the dues payment structure and work to develop a new plan that addresses both the inequities and problems of the current system while being more acceptable to our kehillot.
Also today, we’re pleased that our board of directors adopted an update to United Synagogue’s 2011 Strategic Plan, the roadmap we have used for the last three years to guide our transformation. The revised plan includes a vision for the future that we believe reflects the most compelling needs and opportunities facing our kehillot and Conservative Judaism, as well as the institutional capacity of United Synagogue to address them. It’s an exciting document and we look forward to sharing it with you in the coming weeks.
In addition, our board is discussing a comprehensive financial plan that would allow us to make further progress on meeting our vision for the future. We will keep you updated on this issue.
Thank you for your continued partnership.
Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO
Richard Skolnik, International President