Frequently Asked Questions about Membership

What is Temple B’nai Or’s membership program?
In 2014/15 Temple B’nai Or proudly became one of a steadily growing number of synagogues in the U.S. to eliminate Temple dues and adopt a voluntary commitment framework. We call our program Kehilah – Hebrew for community – to signify the importance of each member’s role and responsibility to each other and our traditions through the covenant of membership.

Within the Kehilah program, we ask each family for a voluntary financial commitment and a volunteer pledge. Both are determined by Temple costs and needs, not member age or income. Each year in June, Temple members fill out and return their Kehilah forms with their renewed pledges for the new fiscal year.

How does the Voluntary Financial Commitment work?
Each year, Temple leadership will suggest a Sustaining Pledge based on the amount needed from every adult member to maintain the facilities, staff and programming. This amount is derived from the operating expenses in the current budget. The Sustaining Pledge is important because our members know exactly what is needed from them to maintain our Kehilah. There are also opportunities for those who are so blessed to give at higher levels. Members who cannot meet the Sustaining Amount fill in what they can give, no questions asked.

How does the Volunteer Pledge work?
The Volunteer pledge form creates a resource of the skills and interests within the congregation. It is just as critical as the Voluntary Financial Commitment because it helps us create more meaningful engagement within the community and keeps people informed about committees, projects and special needs. The current forms lets congregants either inform us of their skills, hobbies and/or interests or, if they are ready, volunteer for a standing committee or task force.

Why did Temple B’nai Or adopt this membership model?
Our goals for the Kehilah Membership Program are simple: remove as many barriers to new and continued membership as possible, ignite engagement across our membership with new and better ways to participate in programming, reinforce the importance AND responsibility of Temple membership, and sustain and strengthen our congregation. We feel that the voluntary participation model is ideal because offers transparency into what it takes to sustain a Temple community and yet lets each member connect in on their terms – and at all stages of our lives and with all the ups and downs of life!

How do I join?
First, we recommend that you contact our Executive Director to learn more about our Temple and plan a meeting with her and the clergy so that we may officially welcome you. Visiting us for a Shabbat Service is also highly recommended! Our executive director can share with you the membership application, as well as the Kehilah pledge forms and get you on your way to joining our community.

If you would like to talk to someone about our Temple and our membership program, either call us at (973) 539-4539 or send us an email. Or if you are ready to join…