Dear Members, please see below for an update on the merger ahead of our vote on the 4th October 2021.
The Full Report is available below the Summary.
EBMC AND EMS
MERGER PROPOSAL REPORT – SUMMARY
12 SEPTEMBER 2021
Since autumn 2020, a Merger Team comprised of members from EBMC and EMS have been considering whether the communities should take steps in respect of a proposed merger between both communities. Between March and April 2021, members from both communities formed teams to consider seven of the areas set out below. Matters related to the governance of a merged community have also been considered by the Merger Team. A report setting out their findings was shared in June of this year. We are now pleased to share an updated version of the report. In addition to setting out the findings of each team, the updated report includes:
A list of questions and answers raised at the Q&A sessions held by EBMC and EMS;
The draft new Articles of Association for the merged community; and
An updated Governance section which includes a summary of the Articles of Association and Heads of Terms of the proposed Merger Agreement.
You are invited to raise questions on the updated report by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org. These questions will be answered at a Zoom session (date to be confirmed in due course). At that session, members will be able to raise subsidiary questions.
On 4 October 2021, there will be: (i) an EGM at which members of the community can vote on the merger; and (ii) a Steering Committee meeting at which the Steering Committee will also vote on the merger. The latter is required under EBMC’s Articles of Association. A formal notice of both meetings and the resolution alongside full voting instructions will be circulated shortly. Voting will be for reserved for members only and arrangements will be made for a vote online.
If the merger is approved on 4 October, the formalities (including the election of members of the merged Council and Executive) will be completed over the following few weeks with the process of merger being completed on 20 December 2021 (the ‘Prescribed Date’). As per the Heads of Terms, a team will then start to look for a location for a new Synagogue in Elstree and Borehamwood.
This summary is necessarily brief and very high level, and we recommend you consider the report in full in advance of casting your vote on the merger. It contains considerable detail and represents a significant amount of time, effort and dedication from a number of members of both communities to whom we are extremely grateful. However, for ease, a summary of the main sections is set out below.
The Administration Team has created a detailed process inventory which sets out the key processes in both communities.
One of the key challenges would be creating a merged database of both communities. The Administration Team has already started exploring viable database providers, and if a merger is agreed, would take further steps to implement the integration of the databases, which may require external, expert report.
EMS already has a full-time administrator, whereas EBMC has relied on community volunteers.
The Demography Team considered the current location and age distribution of members of both communities. A range of external data sources, including analysis of the 2011 census by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and the location of Jewish schools, were also considered. The Demography Team concluded that any merged community shul should be in Borehamwood, though noted that it would be important to take account of, and provide services and a minyan for, members of EMS who live in Edgware and wish to attend services in the area.
The Demography Team also considered the conceptual and physical aspects of a new shul building. Their recommendations are set out in the report and focus on encouraging involvement in the community and providing a space where all are welcome and able to attend.
The Education Team concluded that EBMC has a strong offering for children and young families (including a successful Bnei Mitzvah programme) and EMS has a strong offering in adult education (including ‘Zoomfest’ and weekly classes with Rabbi Danny). The Education Team concluded that being able to combine these offerings would be a source of strength for a merged community and that as a larger community, we would be in a better position to offer various services and attract volunteers to offer them.
Looking to the future, the Education Team considered the possibility of a merged community working with NOAM and launching a Cheder if there were sufficient numbers of children and teachers.
4. Fees and Finance
When the Fees and Finance Team met, EMS fees were £958 per family and EBMC fees were £552 per family. The Fees and Finance Team agreed the fees were too low, regardless of whether a merger takes place. The team considered comparator fees at other local communities.
The Fees and Finance Team proposed that if a merger took place, new members would pay the current EMS fees and pre-existing EBMC members’ fees would gradually increase over the course of three years to the same level as EMS fees. The current proposal is for fees to increase as follows (though this has not been finalized and is subject to change):
The fee structure will be adapted to types of membership and the Fees and Finance Team proposed a ‘hero rate’ to encourage those who can afford to pay more to do so voluntarily.
No potential members would be refused membership for financial reasons, and measures would be put in place to assist them where necessary.
5. Governance (constitutional matters)
This section of the report now sets out a summary of the key provisions in the draft Articles of Association of the merged Synagogue and a summary of the Heads of Terms that will form the basis of the merger agreement.
6. Minhag (Religious Practise)
The Minhag Team found that the minhag in both communities was remarkably similar but identified some differences which, quite naturally, were focused on during the meetings. The report sets out a summary of key areas, the minhag in each community and, where there are differences, possible solutions and comments from Rabbi Danny.
7. Mission, Vision and Values
The Team found that there were differences between the communities, but with regard to ethos, culture and vision, there is a shared view. The demographics show the two shuls between them have a multi-generational community and big current/potential future membership base. As part of a merger, it is important that a satellite community in Edgware is created for those members of EMS who do not travel on Shabbat.
The Welfare Team concluded that the communities have many things in common, and the goals and aspirations of the communities are aligned on many issues. The welfare of members would be at the forefront of activities as a proposed joint community. The team’s intention was to grow the welfare team activities and galvanise and put in action some additional plans so that the offerings are more aligned.
Please find full report below: