Congregation Mishkan Tefila will join innovative campus model located at Brookline’s Congregation Kehillath Israel

KI Construction 3-30-16BROOKLINE, MA — — Last night, the Congregation Kehillath Israel Board of Trustees took a major step towards the realization of their “KI Next” vision—creating an innovative model for urban Judaism for the next 100 years—by formally welcoming a new major partner, Congregation Mishkan Tefila to its Brookline campus.

The KI Board voted unanimously to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Congregation Mishkan Tefila that will see them moving from their current location in Chestnut Hill to co-locate on our campus.

The Congregation Mishkan Tefila (CMT) Board had voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday night to accept KI’s proposal to become a pillar partner on the campus.

“I am thrilled by the opportunities this move presents for our community,” said Paul Gershkowitz, President of CMT.  “As a congregation, we realized that to thrive in the 21st century, we needed to explore opportunities that were vastly different than the model we had followed before.  The way people relate to Judaism has shifted, and I believe that CMT has an important role to play in this new paradigm.

“Becoming a pillar of the KI campus allows us to get out of the building management business, and focus on what we are good at – providing excellent programming to the Greater Boston Jewish community, offering our young families the opportunity to learn together and support one another, and enhancing the spirit of volunteerism that has been an important part of our culture since 1853.

“Through the entire process, we have been so impressed by the thoughtful way that KI has been approaching its own future, and the tremendous planning process that they have undertaken.  We look forward to working closely with Rabbi Hamilton, President David Williams, and the KI community as together, we chart a new future for our communities.”

“We welcome Congregation Mishkan Tefila as a strong, independent congregation on the campus and look forward to their leadership in areas that will enrich the broader community,” said David Williams, President of KI. “In particular their high-profile speaker programs and well-established brotherhood and sisterhood will be important additions to the campus.”

Rabbi William Hamilton said he welcomes the news.  “We are humbled and deeply honored to co-locate alongside New England’s founding Conservative synagogue, Congregation Mishkan Tefila.  Inspired by its monumental impact on American Jewish life over the past 150 years, we feel blessed to stand shoulder to shoulder with Mishkan Tefila as it prepares to bring its important leadership to twenty-first century Judaism.”

As plans for collaboration are defined, both synagogues will benefit from the synergy of two strong, historic synagogues working together.  CMT will remain as an autonomous congregation, continuing its 150+ year history and will add its distinctive strengths to the campus and the overall community, including its extensive musical tradition, strong Auxiliaries (brotherhood and sisterhood), and high-profile speaker series.

KI already has over 5 years of experience working with separate, autonomous congregations in their space; while to date their on-site partners have been minyanim, including The Washington Square Minyan, Kol Rinah, and Minyan Shaleym, they have also spent many years collaborating with other Brookline synagogues for shared holiday celebrations and events.  “We have found that we can respect our differences and work together to create powerful synergies for the Jewish community as a whole,” said Rabbi Hamilton.  “Working together will allow us to strengthen and support current partner collaborations and bring powerful Jewish and Israel programming to a larger audience.”

Moving into its upcoming centennial year in 2017, KI has dedicated itself to creating a multi-generational, innovative and inclusive center for Jewish learning and worship.  This vision brings together strong partners who will lend their strength to building a campus ecosystem that creates multiple points of engagement with Jewish life across the generations and throughout the spectrum of belief.  To date:

  • Phase I construction started last week, with scaffolding now enveloping the Sanctuary building.  This phase of the project is expected to take some months, and is focused on the exterior of the Sanctuary Building; primarily restoring the roof and masonry.
  • KI has raised over $10 million of their capital campaign’s $15 million target.
  • Plans for the construction were approved unanimously by the Brookline Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeal.
  • There are currently over two dozen mission-driven partners at KI, some located on-site at the campus, others partnering through programming.  They range from independent Minyanim (Washington Square Minyan, Kol Rinah, Minyan Shaleym), to programming for children (Hebrew Play, Sulam), education and inclusion (Yachad, Jewish Discovery Institute, Online Jewish Learning) and community (Jewish Venture Mentoring Service), and many others.
  • A development agreement has been approved to allow Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly
    to build state-of-the-art senior housing on-site at the campus, adjacent to KI’s expanded preschool, creating an innovative space for multi-generational programming and interaction.
  • KI is currently consolidating several already existing Millennial/Young Adult programs to create an innovative post-B’nei mitzvah program, and plan to engage with additional partner organizations to facilitate future expansion. KI and Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston (CJP) are working together on a vision to provide resources and innovative programming to Young Adults.  Discussions are underway to identify how best to create a thriving hub of social entrepreneurship for millennials in the Jewish community.

This partnership model shows that by working together we can achieve real change not only in our individual synagogues, but within the Jewish community as a whole, creating a more empowered, innovative, and creative Judaism that will strengthen us all.

For more information, contact David Williams, President of KI at president@congki.org, or call KI’s Main Office
at (617) 277-9155.
To learn more about Congregation Mishkan Tefila, please visit:  http://www.mishkantefila.org/

To learn more about Congregation Kehillath Israel, please visit: http://congki.org/