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Pledge process update

Herb Face April 2013 Many of you have asked how things are going with the pledge process to support our new donation system, and I am very happy to report that well over half of our members have already pledged.

Not only have a majority of you already submitted your pledges, but the total contribution for these pledges is up over $20,000 from what this same group of members gave last year. In fact, for every 1 member that decided to decrease their level of giving, there were over 5 that increased it. So, a HUGE thanks to everyone who has already pledged. Our confidence in your generosity has definitely been well placed!

Now, we need the rest of you to pledge. It’s really important that we all take an active role in this process. If we don’t hear from you, we will send you a statement in July as we usually do, but we’d much rather hear from you!

If you have not yet submitted your pledge, a personalized reminder letter is being mailed to you. Better yet, why not take a moment out of your day and submit your pledge online, right now, right here.

Also, please let me know how you feel about the process so far. We’d love to hear any suggestions you have for improving what we’re doing or how we’re doing it.

Thanks again.  We are delighted and honored to be on this journey together with you.

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Pledge process update and 2014/2015 Budget Analysis

Herb Face April 2013We are on schedule with the process that we described at the January congregational meeting and letters requesting a pledge of commitment for the 2015-2016 year are being mailed to all current members this week. One of the items we promised was a succinct analysis of the budget for the current year (2014‐2015) so all members understand the significance of their contributions and take ownership in the financial health of our congregation.  Although we are still in the early stages of the budgeting process, we do not expect there to be substantial changes for the upcoming year.


By far, the largest amount of our income comes from what was projected to be contributed as annual membership dues; this includes Mitzvah Circle dues that some members contributed over and above the assessed amount of dues. In order to keep our institution running and moving forward, this amount will need to be replaced by the voluntary contribution we are asking our members to pledge for 2015‐2016. You’ll see, however, that this is only about 2/3 of our revenue, and we will need to continue our fundraising efforts, as well as continue to charge fees for specific items, such as school tuition, High Holy Day seats and B’nei Mitzvah fees. Hopefully, as our endowment grows, our investment income will account for a greater percentage of our overall revenue.

Revenue Source 2014-2015 Budget % of Total Income
Dues (including Mitzvah Circle) $885,000 67.3%
School Tuition $217,000 16.5%
Annual Appeal (Kol Nidre Appeal) $45,000 3.4%
Fundraising $45,000 3.4%
Investment Income $40,000 3.0%
Temple Donations $30,000 2.3%
B’nei Mitzvah Fees $25,000 1.9%
High Holy Day Seats $15,000 1.1%
House Rental (Including Children Garden Center) $11,900 0.9%
Bulletin Advertising $2,000 0.2%
Total Income $1,315,900

Income Pie Chart






Our expenses are broken out by functional area. Each of these functional areas (with the exception of Special Programs) contains both salaries for staff and non-labor expenses. For example, the functional area “House” includes the labor expenses for our custodial staff, but also includes non-labor expenses for heating oil, snow removal and many other items. Approximately 75% of our overall budget goes to the people who we employ to help us fulfill our mission, from the Rabbi and the Cantor, to our office staff, our educational staff, teachers, tutors, custodial staff, musical accompanists and service leaders. There is one item that you will not see here: You will find no payments to service debt because TBA has no debt. We are proud of our long-standing practice of responsibly living within our means.

Functional Area 2014-2015 Budget % of Total Expense
Ritual (includes salaries for Clergy, Clergy Coordinator, Musical Accompanists, Service Leaders and BBM Tutors) $554,569 42.1%
Religious School (includes salaries for Director of Education, Education and Program Coordinator and Teachers) $298,850 22.7%
Administration (includes salaries for Director of Temple Operations, Bookkeeper and Office Assistant) $238,131 18.1%
House (includes salaries for Facilities Supervisor and Assistant Facilities Coordinator) $194,800 14.8%
Special Programs (includes Tikkun Olam, Membership Committee, TBA Cares, Israel Committee and other programming) $15,100 1.1%
Youth Group (includes salary for Youth Group Director) $14,450 1.1%
Total Expenses $1,315,900

Expense Pie Chart





Questions or Comments?

Have any questions or would like further information about how your contributions help us fulfill our mission? Just drop me a note at president@tba-ny.org!

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President’s Message Regarding the Special Congregational meeting held on January 6, 2015

Herb Face April 2013Thank you to everyone who made it to last week’s congregational meeting. Despite the light snow in the morning, and the cold temperatures in the evening, we had an excellent turnout of congregants who gathered to consider and discuss changing the system by which we financially support our synagogue. With the goal of encouraging generosity and eliminating any barriers for membership, we voted overwhelmingly to adopt a new policy of giving at Temple Beth Abraham and move from a system of assessed dues according to various membership categories for congregants to a system where members make voluntary contributions to support our operations. There will be guidance for voluntary contributions based upon a “Sustaining Amount” determined by our Finance Committee.

No family will be required to give more than they are currently giving in our new system. Every family will be asked to be as generous as they can to support TBA.

As Allison Fine succinctly put it, we are now “Jews without dues,” however, we are not Jews without financial needs. In the coming weeks, hopefully before the end of February, current members will receive a Pledge letter with material including:

1. information about the Temple’s operational expenses,
2. the Sustainable Contribution amount recommended by the Finance Committee, and
3. the amount they contributed this year in dues (both assessed dues and voluntary Mitzvah Circle dues).

Every family will be asked to make a Pledge to support temple operations for the 2015-2016 fiscal year that begins in July. The first donation towards the pledge will be due in July just as in our current system.

This is an important milestone for Temple Beth Abraham. As Rabbi Holtz pointed out at the meeting, the financial model sustaining synagogues has always changed after a few generations – selling aliyahs, selling pews, assessing dues – each has had their moment of addressing problems with the prior system. 2015 is the year for Temple Beth Abraham to make the change and to be at the vanguard as synagogues nationwide are reassessing the long-term viability of the dues model. We want to make the change while our balance sheet is strong and while our membership base is stable as it has been in the last couple of years, and not out of fear or diminishment. We anticipate a great advantage to being the first synagogue to have the courage of our convictions to rely on the generosity of our members outside of a dues system in Westchester County.

I do not expect that the change will be without its challenges, but I do believe that we have collectively taken the right action to ensure that Temple Beth Abraham will be a thriving center of Liberal Judaism in the Rivertowns and the surrounding areas for generations to come.

Herb Baer

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