Yoffie floats idea of synagogue mergers

NEW YORK (JTA) – The leader of the Reform movement suggested that cash-strapped synagogues could merge with Conservative congregations.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, in a speech Dec. 12 to the Union for Reform Judaism trustees in Tampa, Fla.,  made several suggestions about how the movement could deal with the current financial crisis. 

“In a small town, it may be that a struggling Reform and a struggling Conservative synagogue will have to overcome their differences and join in cooperative programming, and even formal mergers,” Yoffie said. “In a large city, with two or five or 10 Reform congregations, it may be that the time has come to share social services, buildings and staff."

While Yoffie noted that he generally views Jewish pluralism as a source of strength, the current crisis means that the community cannot afford what it once took for granted. 

According to the URJ, interdenominational mergers have happened in the past. Eight synagogues are members of both the Reform and Conservative movements. 

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