More About Membership


By: Rebecca Kislak Brown

Over the last few years, the Temple Emanu El membership committee has been tasked with studying best ways to support our wonderful synagogue.  The membership committee recommended moving towards a sustaining model of membership support, where dues and annual fund solicitations are combined into one annual request for voluntary contributions.  These contributions will be solicited based on prior commitments to the synagogue, and with the information regarding how much it costs to run the synagogue and all of our vibrant, diverse programming. 
We all know that our synagogue costs money to run- the building that hosts most of our activities, the staff that run and attend them, Shabbat services, Arts Emanu-El, family programming, joyous lifecycle events like baby namings, b’nai mitzvot and weddings, and more somber occasions like funerals and shiva minyanim.  To run this synagogue it costs about $2,300 per household.  We will be asking households that can contribute this or more to do so, and we will be asking every family to commit to supporting the synagogue at the highest level that is comfortable for them.  

The Board of Directors voted last spring to proceed with plans to implement the new sustaining membership model, and will have one last vote in April before we fully implement this change. Between now and then, there will be many opportunities to learn more, ask questions, give feedback, and give meaningful and important information to the membership committee.  
We have begun a series of small house meetings hosted by members for  people to learn more about what we are doing with membership and why.  We know not all 800+ households will be able to attend house meetings in the next few months, but we are trying to reach as many people as possible.  If you want to be invited, or would like to host a meeting, please contact Meital Cafri at (401) 331-1616, or
In February you will receive a letter explaining our new membership model.  With it, you will receive your 2015 Commitment Form to fill out and return to Temple Emanu-El.  It is important that we receive your 2015 Commitment Form soon as we move forward with this new membership model.

If you would like to read a little more about what the membership committee was reading and thinking last year as we made these decisions, please check out some of these interesting blog posts, particularly Amanda Palmer’s TED talks video (below).
Finally, if you want to talk about these improvements, please feel free to write to me at You may also speak with our Temple President, Judy Greenblatt, our Executive Director, Gershon Levine, or any member of the clergy.

*Rebecca Kislak Brown is Vice President for Membership at Temple Emanu-El.


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