Important News About Congregation Shaare Zedek and Kehilat Hadar, July 2019

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to share exciting news about Congregation Shaare Zedek with our many friends, supporters, and former community members.

As you may know, this past March we informed Shaare Zedek’s members that our Board had started discussions with Kehilat Hadar, an independent minyan located on the Upper West Side, concerning the integration of our two communities. Founded in 2001, Kehilat Hadar is a vibrant and spirited community which conducts services in a manner that is extremely similar to our own. Like Shaare Zedek, Kehilat Hadar emphasizes the values of lay participation and volunteerism, seeks to uphold a traditional, yet fully egalitarian service, and is committed to building the bonds of community among its members.

In approaching Kehilat Hadar, our Board sought to partner with a like-minded community for the purpose of forming a strengthened and sustainable lay-led, multigenerational, traditional egalitarian minyan in Shaare Zedek’s new building that would benefit the members of both communities and enhance the Jewish experience on the Upper West Side.

Working together and in good faith, representatives of Shaare Zedek and Kehilat Hadar jointly developed a vision statement setting forth the goals and principles of an integrated community. (You can read the vision statement here.) They then developed and agreed upon a multi-phased plan for the integration of both communities. In the first phase of the plan, Shaare Zedek and Kehilat Hadar will conduct “joint operations” as separate legal entities with their own boards and memberships. The two communities will hold Shabbat morning services together as a single minyan in Kehilat Hadar’s current location, and will coordinate on various other aspects of synagogue life, including children’s programming, adult education, and chesed activities. In the next phase, Shaare Zedek and Kehilat Hadar will together move into Shaare Zedek’s new building when completed (which we anticipate should happen in late 2020, God willing), and continue joint operations in our community’s new home. Finally, within nine months of moving into the building, the members of Shaare Zedek and Kehilat Hadar will vote on whether to become a merged entity with a single board and unified membership.

I am very happy to report that Shaare Zedek’s members met on July 22 and voted in favor of the proposal to begin joint operations with Kehilat Hadar. Kehilat Hadar’s members also voted in favor of joint operations on July 17. With both communities having now approved the proposal, joint operations will begin on Shabbat Parashat Bereshit, October 26, 2019 / 27 Tishrei 5780. At that time, Shaare Zedek and Kehilat Hadar will begin holding Shabbat morning services together, and will start working towards the goal of uniting as a single community after the new building is completed.

We are optimistic and excited about this new stage in the long history of Shaare Zedek. Together with Kehilat Hadar, we intend to build a vital and welcoming community on the Upper West Side which honors Shaare Zedek’s past and envisions a bold and successful future in which both communities can together fulfill their potential. As we embark on this journey, we do so knowing that so many of you maintain a place in your heart for Shaare Zedek and its members, and we hope that you will continue to do so.

Yours truly,

Michael Firestone
President, Congregation Shaare Zedek