Strategic Planning Team

TBS Governance Task Force

Update January 2017

 Our TBS Bylaws will identify who is eligible to become a "member" of our synagogue. As a Conservative synagogue and a sacred community, TBS is committed to enriching Jewish life and preserving Jewish traditions by providing worship, educational and social experiences for its members. The Task Force, together with other work groups and the Board of Directors, have been working on finding the best way to accommodate and respect families who wish to join TBS, where one of the partners is not Jewish.

As we recognized in the development of our TBS long range Strategic Plan, the trends are unmistakable: the rates of interfaith marriage are increasing in the country as a whole and here in our community. Yet many couples with one Jewish partner choose to affiliate with a synagogue. These families have committed to making a Jewish home and providing a quality Jewish education for their children. The Strategic Plan, the Board of Directors and our Rabbis are all in agreement: we must continue to provide a welcoming and inclusive spiritual home for interfaith families. Of course, the degree to which non-Jewish spouses and children in interfaith families can participate in specific rituals and religious activities are matters of TBS policy, and in that we are guided by our Rabbis. Moreover, the Task Force recommends retaining the requirement that one must be Jewish to serve in a leadership position as a TBS Officer, Director, or as a chair of certain committees. But for purposes of our Bylaws, the Governance Task Force is recommending that a TBS "Household" or "Family" membership may include a non-Jewish partner.

Bringing our TBS Bylaws up-to-date will require that some additional modifications be made in to our "membership" definitions. Accordingly, the Governance Task Force is recommending more flexible, gender-neutral language that recognizes non-traditional family arrangements. Under these provisions, same sex couples and non-married partners will be eligible to join TBS as "Household" or "Family" members.

It should be noted that the modifications to our Bylaws described above reflect the most current Conservative Movement recommendations as well as our actual current practice, which have evolved over time to accommodate our better understanding and acceptance of the many types of Jewish families. The new Bylaws will clarify our intent to be welcoming and inclusive to all who would like to embrace Judaism and become part of our sacred community.

Debbie Perlman
Chair, TBS Governance Task Force