The HEA, the largest Conservative synagogue in Colorado, has severed its ties with United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the denominations umbrella body, for fiscal reasons.
The HEAs executive board, which had examined the issue for several years, voted unanimously Tuesday, June 26, to end its formal affiliation with United Synagogue.
Rabbi Bruce Dollin, spiritual leader of the synagogue since 1994, when the HEA first joined United Synagogue, told the IJN Wednesday that the decision was based solely on the fiduciary needs of the congregation.
Weve looked at every single expense line item to make sure we were being fiscally responsible in these difficult economic times, he says. Breaking with United Synagogue was one of the things we looked at.
We decided that we werent getting the services that would justify the cost.
In the past two years alone, the HEA paid $60,000 already a reduced figure for similar-sized Conservative congregations in dues to United Synagogue.
Eliminating those dues will now translate into direct services for the HEAs 950 members.
We will remain a Conservative synagogue for all practical purposes, Dollin emphasizes.
Our theology, clergy, religious services and educational priorities wont be affected.
Although USY, the synagogues youth group, will no longer be allowed to participate in regional events, the board did not feel this sufficiently justified the cost of organizational membership.
Our youth group is strong and will continue to be as active as ever, Dollin says.
The unrelenting economic slump, rather than any inherent fault attributable to United Synagogue, resulted in the break, he says.
Its not a matter of what we werent getting from United Synagogue. USCJ is trying to reinvent itself as a relevant and helpful organization.
Our decision was less a reflection on them and more a reflection of how careful the HEAs board of directors are with our funds. Thats their job.
However, he said that Denvers geographical disconnect from United Synagogues base in the East Coast might have impacted their relationship.
We live in Denver, Dollin says. Were pretty far away from the coast, which has a higher concentration of Jews and synagogues.
As an independent congregation, we didnt really feel there was a clear-cut need to be connected to United Synagogue. The services they provided or might provide in the future no longer seemed necessary.
Dollin does not want other Conservative synagogues to misinterpret HEAs choice as a collective call to action.
I hope not, and I dont think they will, he says. Every congregation has to make its own decision about the use of funds. Everyone will have to decide whats best for their own congregations.
Copyright © 2012 by the Intermountain Jewish News