Har Sinai Congregation – Temple Oheb Shalom
“And now, it is our turn to build upon our history to create for tomorrow. What an exciting opportunity you have to create a 21st century synagogue for now, a sacred community for the future.” -Rabbi Floyd Herman and Rabbi Donald Berlin
Frequently Asked Questions
Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Joint Task Force
Town Hall Fact Sheet
April 28, 2019
Over the past several months, the Joint Task Force (JTF) of Har Sinai Congregation and Temple Oheb Shalom has worked diligently to explore the possibility of combining our two congregations.
As the JTF identified and worked through key areas of importance, we shared our goals for the future and our mutual desire to build a vibrant, robust, new Reform community in Baltimore. These shared goals highlight the cultural similarities of our two historic congregations.
After much discussion, hard work, collaboration and compromise, the JTF is prepared to recommend the joining of our two historic congregations and the creation of a joint new home. We are excited to begin larger conversations with our congregants and share our recommendations.
Congregational Home and Community
Our new, combined congregation would consist of approximately 750 households and would offer the strength of a larger congregation and provide an environment that fosters close-knit relationships. Consolidating our resources would provide us the opportunity for enhanced worship, education and programming.
The location of our newly combined congregation would be the current location of Oheb Shalom, at 7310 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21208.
In the coming months, a joint working group would be formed to ensure the creation of a collective home that honors and blends both congregations’ long histories in order to preserve sacred, cherished objects and recognition elements.
To truly combine our two communities, we need to create a fair and balanced governance structure, respecting the long histories and devoted leadership of both congregations.
The JTF recommends a 25 member transitional Board of Trustees to serve for the first two years of the new congregation. Fifteen Trustees would be chosen from existing Oheb Shalom congregants and 10 Trustees from Har Sinai congregants. The Board would be led by a 7 member executive committee including co-presidents, co-executive vice presidents, co-treasurers, one from each congregation, and a secretary from Oheb Shalom.
After the first two years, new Board members would be elected without requiring specified proportions of prior affiliations with either Har Sinai or Oheb Shalom.
Visioning for the Future
We would embark as soon as possible on a visioning process for the newly formed congregation. Designed to involve as many congregants as possible, the process would provide a wonderful and unifying opportunity for existing members of Har Sinai and Oheb Shalom to work together to create a vibrant future for the new congregation.
With a new defined vision, we would search for new clergy, choose a new name and consider how to best make our Park Heights Avenue location a collective home. The JTF views this time as an incredible opportunity to build on the foundation of our rich histories to define who we want to be as we move forward together.
The name of the new congregation should reflect the combined, vibrant and inclusive community we are striving to build. We believe that through the highly participatory and collaborative visioning process, and with the help of the URJ and other professionals, we would create a name with meaning and spirit. The final choice of the new name would be approved through a congregational vote.
This journey would take time to do well. If we have not chosen a new name by the time we sign a merger agreement, we would temporarily use Har Sinai – Oheb Shalom. We would commit to having the new congregation select the new name no later than Rosh HaShanah 2020.
Our visioning would provide input for our new congregation to enter the rabbinic search process this fall, to select a Rabbi who would arrive in the summer of 2020.
Until that time, clergy from each of our Congregations would work together to serve the combined congregation.
B’Nai Mitzvah Calendar
As part of our work, the JTF has considered syncing both congregations’ calendars of life cycle events . All assigned b’nei mitzvah dates through 2021 at both congregations have been coordinated.
Merging is a Process
If both existing congregations decided to combine, many important decisions about how best to integrate would need to be worked out. The JTF believes that the resolution of those issues should involve as many congregants as possible. At the appropriate time, we would establish joint committees, each charged with a designated area of focus to work out the many important details necessary to integrate the worship, communal, financial, governance and operational facets of active congregational life. These committees would not only focus on day-to-day operations, but also on the diverse areas of engagement that would make our unified congregation a spiritual home.
- If both congregations support the JTF’s recommendations, Har Sinai’s and Oheb Shalom’s existing Boards would vote to sign a Letter of Intent to Merge (LOI) as early as May 14, 2019
- After the LOI is signed
- Financial and Legal due diligence would begin immediately
- Planning for the visioning process would begin immediately
- Formation of the Transitional Board for the new congregation would begin
- Creation of Joint Committees to work on initial integration issues would begin
- Once Financial and Legal due diligence has been completed, Congregational votes to formally approve the merger would be scheduled for no later than September 22, 2019
Joint Task Force Members
Temple Oheb Shalom Har Sinai Congregation
Lisa Budlow, Co-Chair Kenneth Bell, President
Micah Damareck David Carp
Michael Greenebaum Sam Dansicker
Mandee Heinl Mark Dopkin, Co-Chair
Deverah Routman Abby Hoffman
David Sachs, Co-Chair Jason Savage
Vicki Spira, President Barbara Schlaff, Co-Chair