The Building Our Future Campaign is designed to actualize the new congregation that we created 2 years ago. By focusing on three core areas; our building, our community, and our future financial stability, this effort will assure the continued vibrancy and vitality of the shul for years to come.Based upon the congregational survey sent out one year ago, the Building component of the campaign will focus on the sanctuary, social hall, lobby, offices, and front entrance. It will assure that the physical plant can meet our congregational needs and fully represents our values of inclusion, collaboration, and accessibility.
The new congregational outlook is manifest in the Our Community portion of the campaign. By changing our priorities from gaining members to serving people, we will be able to meet the needs of even more people from within our Jewish community and be able to meet their needs even better than we can today.
In order for these changes to be possible, we must be thoughtful about Our Future and our continued financial stability. By assuring we have a robust endowment, financial resources will never have to serve as a barrier to meaningful programming and a roof replacement will not necessitate a change in our staffing. The existence of a strong endowment is key to our continued growth.
But don’t we have $20 million from the amalgamation?
The short answer is no. The building on Chapel Street sold for a total of $12 million. $1.7 million in loans was then repaid and another $1.67 million was used to cover operating expenses before amalgamation. $500,000 was contributed to the Bank Street Cemetery Revitalization Project and $2 million was designated to create the Beth Shalom Legacy Endowment Fund. Therefore, the amalgamation netted Kehillat Beth Israel just over $6 million. While still a robust sum, it is much less than the $20 million that some have suggested were received.
If the synagogue has that money, why do we need to raise more?
There is a famous saying that one doesn’t want to be house rich but cash poor. Were we to use the $6 million we have on hand for the much needed building renovations, we would not have the necessary funds for our annual operating expenses, let alone assuring that we have sufficient funds to assure the synagogue’s continued financial vitality. That is why we are not only raising additional funds to reinvigorate the physical plant but also trying to develop an even more robust endowment that will allow us to provide outstanding services for generations to come.
In addition to constructing our new building, we will be operating quite differently as a congregation. Rather than being an institution designed to serve its members, we will be a truly community-minded synagogue designed to meet the needs of the entire community. In addition to continuing our meaningful services, we will be expanding our offerings to meet the needs both within our congregation and without. We will be providing not only traditional synagogue offerings but also providing additional resources that will benefit the totality of the Ottawa Jewish community.
What are some examples of the ways that the synagogue will operate differently?
At present, our primary metric of congregational success is membership, which discounts all of the other ways that we inspire and engage with the larger community. By focusing on total amount of Jewish engagement and the depth of those connections, we will be able to create more meaningful Jewish experiences for our current members as well as expand our reach to all who are interested in what we will offer. Some examples of future projects include the development of a specialty group focusing on the needs of interfaith families as well as the creation of specific projects designed to be used by families in their homes so that they can practice Jewishly on their own terms and on their own time.