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Beth Emet is a diverse, multigenerational Reform community with a dynamic approach to Judaism. Our congregation seeks to create a spiritually vibrant, socially conscious, intellectually challenging, and deeply caring environment firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and values.

Capital Campaign FAQ

Keep current with the Capital Campaign! Check back here for new information, answers to your questions, and more. To reveal each answer, just click on the plus sign (+) to the left of each question.

Please also remember that as with all building and construction projects, things change, sometimes with very little notice and often due to circumstances beyond our control. We will do our best to keep this site updated and accurate, but there may be times when real life events are happening faster than we can update this site. 

Why do we need a Capital Campaign?

The costs associated with the operations and programs of Beth Emet are funded through a variety of sources including membership commitments, education fees, charges for special events to cover costs, and contributions.

Funds raised from a Capital Campaign are intended to cover medium- to longer-term needs, such as capital improvement projects, and longer-term financial stability through increases to an endowment.  On average, a vibrant religious or educational institution in the United States undergoes a capital campaign every 7-8 years. Beth Emet’s last capital campaign was 18 years ago. We are long overdue, and our needs are very real.

We know this because in 2012, as part of our work on our Master Plan, we hired a consultant to examine and report to us about the long-term health of our building. We learned our lesson the hard way when the boiler suddenly stopped working in 2002 and we were ill prepared to pay for a new one. Earlier this year the same consultant returned to Beth Emet to update the original report and reiterated his recommendation that we replace our cooling and heating system at our earliest opportunity, as it is essentially operating on ‘borrowed time.’  We are taking this recommendation to heart and this project will be one of the first to be addressed when we start the renovation this fall. 

A capital campaign offers the lay and volunteer leadership of a non-profit organization the luxury of planning, of making decisions that are thoughtful and strategic rather than emotional and reactive. We also save money by planning construction and expenditures to suit our timeframe, instead of needing to make a purchase under pressure. One example of this in practice is how we are approaching the installation of the new HVAC system. We had a very small window of time before the High Holidays, and some of the professionals thought the schedule was doable. However, the schedule left no cushion for unexpected findings or delays. We ran the risk of being without any air conditioning at all, or having to spend a lot of money to import a temporary cooling system to cool the building during the most trafficked time of the year.  We felt the risk was too great and decided against it.  Instead our plan is for the HVAC system to be installed during December and January when the building is least occupied and the fewest congregants and students will be inconvenienced.

Why do we need a Mitzvah Appeal at the same time we have a Capital Campaign?

While the Beth Emet Capital Campaign is focused on updating our infrastructure and bolstering our endowment, the Mitzvah Appeal is an annual effort necessary to help with operating expenses. Membership commitments from our approximately 700 families and programmatic fees (school fees, B’nai Mitzvah fees, etc.) are not enough to cover all the costs associated with the wide range of programs provided by Beth Emet. Most religious organizations rely on an annual appeal to balance their budget.

In short, a healthy non-profit organization relies on three types of fundraising tools: an annual program for immediate needs, a capital program once every decade or so to focus on major projects and renovations, and a planned giving program dedicated to long-term financial stability. Beth Emet is doing all three to ensure the future of our physical and spiritual community.

If we have the Mitzvah Appeal to make up for shortages in membership dues, why don’t we just increase the cost of dues a significant amount?

Our congregation is made up of members with varying degrees of economic capacity. Increasing membership dues significantly across the board would place an undue hardship on many of our members. We do not want to be the type of congregation that turns away prospective members because of not being able to afford membership dues. We deliberately and consciously are living our ethics and ideals, and include members regardless of their ability to pay. But this idealistic approach only functions properly if people who can afford to pay in full do so (and then further contribute to the Mitzvah Appeal).

How will you be keeping us informed about the progress of the Campaign?

We will be communicating with the Beth Emet community constantly, consistently, and hopefully clearly. You will see periodic updates in EmetMail (the online newsletter that’s published bi-weekly) and the Chadashon (the printed bulletin that comes out twice a year), and in an e-newsletter that just focuses on the Campaign. We will update the website regularly with new information as it becomes available, add video clips on social media (Facebook and YouTube), and hold Campaign Conversations periodically. The first Campaign Conversation took place on June 20 in the Weiner Room, where about 65 Beth Emet members heard the latest information about the renovation plans and asked questions of Rabbi London, Ross Bricker, Jeff Mann, and Lee Weintraub. We are always available to talk to you, answer your questions, and respond to your concerns.


Who is this ‘we’ you keep referring to? Who are the major players?

Indeed it does take a village to accomplish anything significant. Here is a partial list of people who are involved in one or more aspects of the Capital Campaign:

  • Andrea London, Senior Rabbi
  • Ross Bricker, President of the Board of Trustees
  • The Capital Campaign Committee, comprised of Shari Reiches (Chair) and her husband, Steve, Stopher Bartol, Ross Bricker, Patti and Mel Gerbie, Ariel and Jennifer Goldfarb, David and Lizzie Graham, and Jeff Mann.
  • The Building Renovation Committee, comprised of Lee Weintraub, Steve Galler, Sharon Ephraim, Bob Render and Brad White, have been working hard for the past year representing Beth Emet in meetings with the architects. Sharon and Bob are Past Presidents of Beth Emet. Lee is an architect who, along with Sharon, actively leads the master planning process. Steve is a real estate attorney, and both Steve and Brad have deep experience in property development and project management.
  • Bekki Harris Kaplan, Executive Director of Beth Emet
  • Wendi Kromash, Director of Development of Beth Emet
  • The Board of Trustees and the Executive Officers of the congregation, the Immediate Past President, and past presidents.
  • Jeff Mann, President of the Beth Emet Foundation. Jeff is also the Campaign Treasurer.

There are many more people involved, but these are some with the most public and prominent roles.

What’s the best way to ask a question about some aspect of the Capital Campaign?

Please send your comments, questions, and ideas to Wendi Kromash, Director of Development, or use the online form

Questions that will benefit the congregation will be added to the Q&A section as appropriate. For each email or letter received, someone will get back to you with a response, either an answer to a question or an acknowledgement of your remarks.


What are the renovation priorities?

There are several areas that will be addressed. The first two are replacing the HVAC system and creating a new entrance off the parking lot on the west side of the building.

A consultant hired by the synagogue identified existing building system conditions that needed immediate attention. In particular, the building’s system for heating, cooling, and ventilation (the HVAC system – Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) is way past its useful life expectancy. The system we have now is the same system that was installed in 1962 and is not operating efficiently or cost-effectively.  It must be replaced soon.

Another area that is a priority is creating a new entrance off the parking lot (facing Asbury to the west) to provide greater accessibility and more security features than our current side entrance facing Dempster. This new entrance will replace the side entrance predominantly used as our main entrance during business hours, for after hour programs, and Beit Sefer. It is not the brick arch entrance to the lobby and sanctuary.

The new entrance will include a wide ramp to make it easier to get in and out of the building for those with strollers, walkers, or wheelchairs; an overhanging roof to protect waiting schoolchildren and worshippers from inclement weather; a secured entrance with visual recognition/acknowledgement for guests entering the building; security cameras; lighting throughout the parking lot; security bollards to deter vehicular traffic; and a sidewalk for safe passageway through the parking lot. Each of these changes will enhance the safety and security of Beth Emet congregants and their guests.

Are any other renovations planned for the rest of the building?

Yes. Beyond the HVAC system and new western entrance, it helps to imagine a tour through the renovated synagogue.

As you enter past the heavy wooden doors and through the distinctive brick arch, imagine walking into an expanded, open lobby, filled with natural light, and offering a variety of comfortable spaces designed to encourage congregants and visitors alike to mingle, relax with coffee and bagels, and strike up impromptu conversations.  It will also be a place for parents to relax while waiting for their children, for students to study, and for the Klei Kodesh to mingle with congregants. Imagine a new lobby that will be warm, inviting, and a thriving hub of activity.

Continuing to the sanctuary, imagine a re-envisioned space with new comfortable seating, improved heating and cooling (as described earlier), greatly improved hearing assisted devices and enhanced acoustics, and updated technology that will promote comfort, accessibility, and spirituality.

Moving on through the building, imagine experiencing a refurbished Crown Room with new carpeting, improved acoustics, flexible and partitioned space, and aesthetic appeal. 

Next, imagine enjoying newly refurbished first floor bathrooms featuring improved accessibility, functionality, and privacy.

When you venture downstairs, imagine walking into a renovated, more comfortable, and more functional Weiner Room.

Imagine all these physical renovations taking into account environmental considerations, Universal Design principles, and accessibility for all. We are imagining and planning for the synagogue of the future, and it’s our responsibility to be ready for it.

Our challenge is to stretch the dollars raised through the Campaign, so that we positively affect the greatest number of projects and benefit the most people. Of course, our specific dreams and visions will be achieved only if we are able to complete a successful Campaign.

One of the things that we love most about Beth Emet is the haimish feeling we get every time we walk into the building, whether it’s to pray, volunteer, drop your child off at Beit Sefer or Early Childhood, attend a class or participate in an event. Everything is familiar; it feels like coming home. When this renovation is completed, some of that familiarity will be lost, and that worries us. We recognize Beth Emet is more about the people than any one ‘thing,’ but how are we going to retain that special Beth Emet feeling during, and more importantly, after the renovation? Is this even on anyone’s radar?

This question gets to the heart of this project – will Beth Emet still be Beth Emet once the renovation is finished? Our answer is a resounding YES, and YES – absolutely this issue is on our radar. Here is some additional information that will hopefully reassure you:

Like most projects at Beth Emet, we strive for collaboration. The preparations leading up to the Capital Campaign have been in the works for several years and involved many people who volunteered hundreds of hours of their time. In 2012 a group of lay volunteers began working on a Master Plan to lay out the steps for Beth Emet’s transition into the future.  Many members came to various focus group conversations and attended the community conversation to help us ascertain renovation priorities.

Following the Master Plan, we conducted a feasibility study to determine if our membership had the financial capacity to support a multi-million dollar fundraising campaign. We worked with a consulting firm that specializes in helping non-profits plan campaigns. They surveyed the congregation with questionnaires sent to individual homes and held in-depth interviews with 24 active members.

During the years leading up to the launch of the Capital Campaign, and following the launch, there have been many Beth Emet constituents involved in each decision point. This diverse group of members is dedicated to Beth Emet, complement one another professionally, and support—both philosophically and financially—the Capital Campaign.  The diversity of opinions expressed from this group is united by their love of and devotion to Beth Emet. Views are shared, listened to respectfully, discussed and pondered, before a consensus is reached. Everyone involved with the Campaign wants to maintain the special essence of Beth Emet that first drew each of us in to this wonderful community.

The spirit and ethos of Beth Emet is beautifully encapsulated in the short video about the campaign that debuted at the Campaign Kickoff. You can watch the video on YouTube here or on Beth Emet’s homepage.

How will the renovations benefit our community?

A refreshed and refurbished Beth Emet will benefit our community in so many ways! Most importantly, our congregants and their guests will share a more comfortable, safe, accessible, and welcoming experience. Here are some other tangible benefits:

  • As people park their cars in the lot, the new western entrance will be easily and directly accessible.
  • The new western entrance will have an overhang roof that protects people who are waiting from all types of inclement weather.
  • A line of security bollards will ‘stand guard’ separating the parking lot from those being dropped off / picked up.
  • A new ramp at the western entrance will provide easy accessibility to those with walkers, strollers and wheelchairs
  • When you go through the doors to the building, you will be observed and ‘buzzed in’ by people in the office who can see you. We want to make this much more welcoming than our current configuration.
  • The lobby area will have comfortable seating and meeting areas, free and more stable WIFI, and better lighting. This re-designed area will be conducive for meeting up with friends, catching up with work, or just a place to relax while waiting for your kids to be dismissed from Hebrew school.  You will be able to enjoy a beverage, have a snack, and/or peruse some of the books from the Beth Emet library.
  • New soundproof dividers in the Crown room will allow for multiple events to occur at the same time. This re-imagined space will provide opportunities for third-party rental income by hosting events for both our members and others in the community.
  • During a service or program in the sanctuary, anyone called to the bimah will have a much easier time getting there, either by using the new ramp or ascending fewer stairs.
  • Those of us with hearing impairments will benefit from improved acoustics including the installation of “hearing loop technology”.
  • The improved acoustics will enhance the spiritual experience for everyone.
  • The installation of new seats will significantly increase the comfort of sitting in the sanctuary.
  • We will be better able to regulate and control the inside temperatures, which will enhance the comfort and experience of those participating in the various programs and services at Beth Emet.
  • The restroom facilities will be upgraded providing for a more modern, convenient, accessible, and private experience.
  • Upgrades to the Weiner Room will lead to a better overall experience resulting from a consistent air temperature, less HVAC-related noise, better lighting, a more appealing space, and other enhancements.
  • At night, after the service or event you’ve attended is completed, your walk to and through the parking lot will include better lighting and enhanced safety (via security cameras).

We believe we are meeting the future through this renovation. We want our members to experience a more accessible, safe, welcoming, comfortable, open synagogue environment. Happy members tell their friends, and is our best asset to grow our membership. Word of mouth is still our best form of advertising.

How are contractors and sub-contractors being selected for this project so that we make sure we are hiring the most qualified people?

Vendor selection is a big responsibility in any project. We are following a two-step process. First, we will identify the most qualified contractors based upon experience, prior relationships, and available resources, and assess whether their proposed approach aligns with Beth Emet’s project scope, construction schedule, and budget. Second, the construction / engineering contract documents will be issued through a competitive bidding process which will ensure that Beth Emet can achieve access to the most competitive pricing and value to accomplish the desired outcome.

I love the open, modern trellis design floating above the bimah and noticed it’s missing in the rendering of the sanctuary. Has a decision been made to eliminate it?

It’s important to remember that architectural renderings are idealized images.We have not gotten that far into the details about changes to the sanctuary. Any changes to the sanctuary ceiling overlap with the acoustical challenges in the space. We understand how people feel about the trellis and are sensitive to these considerations. As we gather more information about this topic and many others, we will share information with the congregation.

At 5’, I am vertically challenged. I am concerned that by leveling the sanctuary floor I will no longer be able to ‘see’ what is taking place on the bimah.

This has been a concern of many and we are aware of it.

The architects have assured us that if we proceed with leveling the sanctuary floor, the sight lines from the seats to the bimah will work from every vantage point in the sanctuary. There will be no ‘bad’ seats.

Another possible addition to the sanctuary will be a screen and technology so that the Torah will be projected in front of the entire congregation during the Torah service.  This will greatly enhance visual participation for all.

Keep in mind, too, that everyone’s torso is different and our eye levels are different. These factors impact sight capabilities as well.

We have not finalized this decision, but there are several good reasons to move away from a sloped floor. A sloped floor requires we use inflexible, connected pews or benches, which are more expensive and more difficult to maintain than movable seats. Pews or benches hinder families from sitting together if one of the members requires special assistance or uses a wheelchair or walker, and limit flexibility and alternative seating arrangements.

I have difficulty hearing and use hearing aids. Even with my aids, the current acoustics in Beth Emet are terrible – even my friends who are not hearing-impaired complain! What is being done to remedy this situation?

This is on the top of everyone’s list when we discuss the sanctuary, right after we discuss the seats! We are planning to hire an acoustician to help us select the right technology to purchase and install throughout the Sanctuary and Crown Room so that those who use assisted hearing devices will be able to participate fully wherever they are within Beth Emet’s walls.

Have you considered using Kindle, iPads or SmartPhones during services to enable those unable to read small print to participate? The large print prayer books are outdated and cumbersome.

We had not considered the option of using Kindles, iPads or SmartPhones instead of large print books, but this was brought to our attention recently during a meeting about inclusion. We need to do more research into this, but will do so and follow up with an update.

Will the Pearlman Room be renovated?

Currently the Pearlman Room is not high on our priority list. Our challenge is to stretch the dollars raised through the Campaign, so that we positively affect the greatest number of projects and benefit the most people. We would love to refurbish every room in the synagogue, but it all comes down to fiscal realities.

What are the plans for the bathrooms?

The bathrooms will be renovated, but no final decisions been made. Our goal is to make them more modern, accessible and private. We plan on using Universal Design principles and take into consideration environmental concerns regarding water usage.

What is going on with Asbury House?

Asbury House (the house directly south of the parking lot) presents its own challenges due to its location in a historical district. Unfortunately, the house requires hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair and bring up to code, something we are unable to afford given more pressing priorities.  We have a team of people working with the Evanston’s Planning and Zoning Division to untangle some of the issues and work towards a resolution. As soon as anything has been decided, we will write about it here.



What will happen to the synagogue during the renovation?

As with any construction project, there will be a period of time during which the area being renovated will not be accessible. We are working to minimize the inconvenience as much as possible, but expect that the synagogue will remain up and running throughout much of the renovation period. We trust that the finished product will be well worth it.

Will we still be able to attend services and religious school at Beth Emet during the renovation?

The exact schedule of the renovation is still being determined, but every effort is being made to minimize the inconvenience to the members of Beth Emet who are here regularly to study, pray, work, and learn. We will provide periodic status updates to inform the Beth Emet community via email, the website, and signage in the building. We are also available to you if you have questions. Check out this link here.

My child’s bar or bat mitzvah is supposed to take place within the next two years. What’s going to happen to our simcha if it falls in the middle of the renovation?

This question has been foremost in our minds. We are working closely with the architects, project manager, Building Renovation Committee, and other partners to affect when certain projects start with the goal to minimize the need to reschedule or move certain planned events. The larger projects, which include the lobby area and sanctuary, are being planned for the summer months when there is less overall activity at the synagogue. To the extent a previously planned event is impacted, we will work with that household to provide an alternative date, venue, or space in which to hold the event.

My big concern is security, something I think about every time I pick my kids up from Hebrew school and when we attend services. It’s great that the Evanston police are in the parking lot during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, but Jewish organizations and buildings are at risk every day. What renovations are planned to improve building safety and security?

Security has been foremost on our minds as well. We are excited to share some of the improvements we will be making to the building.

Instead of entering the building from the northwest side door facing Dempster Avenue, we will reconfigure the existing entrance and surrounding space so that the new entrance faces west off of the parking lot toward Asbury. There will be security bollards (concrete and steel posts) separating the western entrance from the parking lot.  There will be an increased number of security cameras around the building and facing the parking lot. The new entrance to the building will include a direct line of sight from the office to those seeking access. Additionally, access will be electronically controlled to prevent anyone deemed a security risk from entering. There are other procedures and enhancements under consideration, and we are working with security experts to make sure the technology we use is appropriate for our needs.

What changes are planned for the parking lot?

The parking lot will be undergoing a lot of changes – we are already calling them improvements! There will be improved lighting, security cameras, and a paved sidewalk, so pedestrians will not need to dodge vehicles on their way into and out of the building. We plan to move the donation box for Connections to the Homeless to a different location and use that space to adjust the parking lot border. The lines in the parking lot will be updated and repainted. The amount of space designated within each parking spot will adhere to federal guidelines; it is not something we determine on our own.

We would like to contribute something to the Capital Campaign, but we have limited financial resources. What’s the best way for folks like us to get involved?

What we wish most for this campaign is for it to be embraced by the entire Beth Emet community. Everyone has a role to play and each role is important. We understand that income, personal circumstances, responsibilities, health, luck, family support, and many other factors vary person to person, household to household.

We ask that you make a gift that is meaningful to you based on your personal situation.  Gifts can be paid over a three-year period beginning in 2017, allowing you to budget your gift over multiple years.  There are also ways to participate and volunteer as a way to be involved. Tell us what you’d like to do (Check out this link here.) and someone will get back to you with some ideas.

Remember, everyone has a role to play. There are no small parts. We are in this together!

If you would like to make a pledge, here is a copy of the pdfPledge Agreement Form you can download and return.

Why should we give to Beth Emet now? Our kids are all grown and we only attend High Holiday services.

We are all stewards of Beth Emet. If you believe in our community, if you have benefitted from or been enriched by an experience you had at Beth Emet, we hope you will contribute something to our Capital Campaign. Your children may no longer attend Hebrew school here, but they still remember those experiences.  Make those memories count with a gift – it’s a sign of confidence in our future, and a way to pay it forward, just like our predecessors did for us in constructing the current building. 

If you believe it is important for Beth Emet to continue to be a leading reform synagogue in Evanston, please contribute to the Capital Campaign. 

If you believe it is important for there to be a prominent Jewish presence in Evanston, please give to the Capital Campaign.

If you believe in the importance of Beth Emet’s leadership role in speaking out about social justice issues, please give to the Capital Campaign.

If you come to Beth Emet ‘only’ on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we hope you will consider participating with a gift to the Capital Campaign.  Rather than thinking of Beth Emet as a product or service you ‘use,’ think of Beth Emet as a beautiful jewel you safeguard, the way others safeguarded it before you, and just like we safeguard our homes. Hopefully you have wonderful memories of times spent at Beth Emet. None of us accomplish anything completely on our own.

But don’t just send a check – come to an event, a class, a service…or all three! We are an active, living community bubbling with the energy and passions of some of Evanston’s most interesting and socially involved people. Extend yourself a little bit and see what happens. You may be surprised.  If you are looking for ways to get involved or engaged in the congregation, always feel free to contact our Executive Director, Bekki Kaplan. 

We hope that as you consider the totality of your family’s relationship with Beth Emet, you will want to make a gift and support our efforts. You may be surprised how good you feel after you contribute.

I know you are raising a substantial amount of money. What guidance can you give me to help me determine how much I should contribute?

For this campaign to be successful, we will need to raise a significant amount of money from all donors – large and small. How much to contribute is a very personal decision based on your financial capacity and individual desire to support Beth Emet. We have published a gift table showing our campaign goals across varying contribution levels.  To date we have received many gifts, including numerous gifts in excess of $100,000 (a record for Beth Emet).  If you would like more information on giving levels or a better understanding of what your peer group may be contributing, someone from the Capital Campaign Committee would be happy to meet with you.  Our goal is to meet all our members either individually or in a group setting. Beth Emet is a community, and every member of the community matters.

What is the total amount you expect to raise?

The minimum goal for the Capital Campaign is $6.13 million. (The number 613 is in honor of the number of mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah.) At the congregation-wide Shabbat service and celebration held the weekend of March 3-4, 2017, we announced the minimum goal and discussed our plans for reaching it. The entire Capital Campaign has been very well thought out and planned, starting several years ago with a feasibility study to determine (i) if the timing was right for a campaign; (ii) if our membership would broadly participate; and (iii) how much we could expect to raise given all the information found during the study.

The feasibility study assured us that the timing was right for a campaign; if anything, Beth Emet was long overdue. Most congregations and other not-for-profit organizations undertake capital campaigns on average every 7-8 years, and it’s been 18 years since Beth Emet last had a campaign.  Many of our mechanical systems need a major overhaul and the needs of our synagogue membership have changed.  Technology has become an increasingly important part of the programs and services we offer which has further necessitated some of the updates.

The feasibility study also included interviews with number of congregants and found an enormous reservoir of warm feelings and good will toward Beth Emet. Most of our members feel very positively toward Beth Emet and have a special place in their hearts for it. There is a lot of belief in what we stand for and overwhelming support of our clergy, our teachers, and our lay leadership.

We have made great progress toward our goal.  Through May of 2017, we have raised over 50% of our goal and have already collected more than $1.3 million in contributions allowing us to start the first phase of construction later this summer.  In addition, we have already contributed over $300k to Beth Emet’s unrestricted endowment funds, further solidifying our financial foundation and increasing the amount of annual support provided to the operating budget.

How many members like me need to participate to reach the minimum goal of $6.13 million? I want to participate, but like I said before, I am not wealthy.

We are confident that $6.13 million is indeed achievable, but we are not taking anything for granted. One of our goals is to have as close to 100% of all members participate in some way, regardless of amount. Giving is personal – we encourage people to give what’s in their hearts and within their means. We would like every member to participate.

We also realize that while our dreams and plans could easily touch every single part of the synagogue building, we have a responsibility to be prudent. Fundraising is hard work and necessitates each of us digging into our hearts and our wallets to make a contribution that is both emotionally true and fiscally affordable. By contributing to the Beth Emet Capital Campaign you are helping us achieve our collective goal and ensuring that Beth Emet continues to be a thriving and progressive Jewish institution.

Are you only spending funds you have collected or do you expect to borrow money to complete the projects sooner?

To date, we are only committing to spend funds that we have collected. As we move into the next phase, the Board of Trustees will carefully evaluate the totality of the pledges we have collected, the confidence level that we will ultimately collect on those pledges, and the amount of contributions received to date to determine whether we would incur some modest amount of financing to allow us to complete the projects in a timely manner.

I am ready to make a pledge. What’s the next step?

Great!! Thank you. You have several options: you can download this Pledge Agreement Form and scan it back to Bekki Kaplan, Executive Director  or Wendi Kromash, Director of Development at Beth Emet. Alternatively, you can mail it to us or drop it off at your convenience to the office. We will review the information you include on your pledge form, and if we have any questions, we will contact you directly.

Can I donate appreciated stock?

Yes. Donating appreciated stock can be a great way to maximize the value of your contribution in a tax efficient manner. Contact Bekki Harris KaplanExecutive Director, for specific information about how to transfer stock to Beth Emet’s brokerage account.

How long will I have to pay my pledge?

Ideally, we would like all pledges to be completed within three years beginning in calendar 2017. If this timeframe does not work for you, we would be happy to discuss with you an alternative timeframe that allows you to fulfill your pledge based on your specific circumstances.

How will the contributions be allocated?

According to our very public plans, 65% of all monies raised will go toward the actual renovation. Twenty-five percent will be contributed to our endowment – contained within our pre-existing, non-profit entity called The Beth Emet Foundation. (You can read more about the Foundation here.) Of the $1.3 million in donations already received for the Capital Campaign, over $300k has already been invested, earning income which will provide incremental funds to be contributed to Beth Emet’s operating budget beginning in its fiscal 2017/18 year.

The remaining 10% of funds raised will be allocated for two distinct purposes.  Approximately half of these funds will be used toward ensuring financial liquidity by providing a seasonal working capital line (managed by the Beth Emet Foundation), thereby reducing our reliance on our existing bank provided credit line.  The balance of these funds will be used to cover campaign-related expenses.

What happens to the money Beth Emet has already collected?

All the money Beth Emet has received to date is deposited into a segregated bank account specifically for the Capital Campaign. Of those funds received to date, 25% has been transferred to the Beth Emet Foundation, and 10% has been set aside to pay down our bank credit line and to pay for campaign-related expenses.

Has any money been spent already?

Yes. Even though visible construction has not yet started, we have already incurred expenses, mainly fees from third-party experts like the architectural firm and engineers. We hired a project manager to serve as our day-to-day contact with the architect and contractors. He meets regularly with the synagogue’s Building Renovation Committee and the Executive Director, keeping them informed of progress, schedules, roadblocks, contract bids, vendor selection options, and other details.

We believe a phased approach is the most prudent way to proceed, although admittedly this will stretch out the time required for the entire renovation to conclude.

Every decision involves trade-offs in time, money, disruption to normal routines, and other factors.  All the people who make Beth Emet function, including the President, the Board of Trustees, the clergy, the Klei Kodesh (senior staff of the synagogue), and all the volunteers on various committees such as the Building Renovation Committee and the Capital Campaign Committee, weigh these decisions carefully. There is a lot of discussion, asking of questions, seeking opinions, and pondering, but we get to the final decision as a team and move forward as one united front. We all want what is best for Beth Emet.

Why are we allocating 10% of all contributions toward financial liquidity and campaign expenses?

About one-half of the 10% allocation is to create a liquidity facility by “providing a seasonal working capital line, thereby reducing borrowing under the existing credit line.” What this means in layman’s terms is that there are times throughout the year when Beth Emet needs to borrow money from a bank credit line to pay its regular monthly bills. Using this bank credit line costs money (interest charges) and reduces our financial flexibility should an emergency arise in which we would need access to capital.  Our goal is to self-fund this seasonal credit line through the monies set aside from the campaign. This liquidity facility will be managed by the Beth Emet Foundation and during periods when there is not a borrowing need, these funds will be invested alongside the other Foundation Funds, thereby generating additional income to support the synagogue.

The other approximately one-half of the 10% allocation will be used for campaign expenses, including the salary of our Director of Development, various campaign events, promotional materials, postage, stationary, and other related charges. We are mindful of these costs and are using the resources of our volunteers whenever possible.

Tell me more about the Beth Emet Foundation.

A wonderful recap of the Beth Emet Foundation is available on the Beth Emet website; you can click on a link here. In summary, prior to any additional contributions resulting from the Capital Campaign, the Beth Emet Foundation is currently comprised of 25 discrete funds totaling just over $2.5 million. Three of these funds are unrestricted and have a balance of just under $1.3 million. These funds are the Assuring Our Future Fund, The Rabbi Peter and Elaine Knobel Fund, and the Singer Fund.  The other 22 funds are restricted funds with balances ranging from several thousand dollars to approximately $125,000.  These restricted funds support specific donor-designated purposes and are allocated to various programs and services throughout the year based on the needs of the synagogue.

What amount does the Foundation contribute to Beth Emet’s annual operating expenses?

The Beth Emet Foundation contributes five percent of the 3-year average balance of its unrestricted funds toward the annual operating expenses of the synagogue. Currently, the amount contributed is approximately $65,000, or about three percent of the synagogue’s total operating budget. Should the goals of the Campaign be met, the amount available to be contributed is expected to more than double to approximately $140,000 annually.

In addition, outside of the amount contributed to the synagogue’s annual operating budget from the unrestricted funds, four percent of the 3-year average balance of the restricted funds are available each year to support additional synagogue programs and other needs that arise throughout the year (taking into account the specific donor restrictions).

How are the assets of the Foundation invested?

The Foundation works collaboratively with its investment advisor, Vanguard, to invest the Foundation assets in primarily passive (low-cost) index funds based on an asset allocation formula of 60% equities / 40% bonds. Within both the equity and bond allocations, there is a further sub-allocation which provides for both domestic and international exposure. If you would like more information about how the Foundation’s assets are invested, feel free to contact the Foundation’s President, Jeff Mann.   

I am thinking about making a gift to the Foundation in addition to my Capital Campaign gift. What is the difference between restricted and unrestricted funds?

Unrestricted gifts offer the synagogue the most flexibility and greatest ability to allocate monies toward the most pressing needs at that particular time. Current events, technology, and congregational needs are always shifting, so what is relevant or a priority one year may not be relevant or a priority the next. If you want your gift to do the most good based on the synagogue’s current needs, an unrestricted gift will have the most impact. Gifts of any amount can be contributed to the Assuring Our Future Fund.

Restricted gifts are used for donors who want their gift to be used exclusively for a specific cause, such as scholarships, programs that focus on music, educational-oriented topics or social causes. To establish a new restricted fund, a minimum contribution of $25,000 is required.  You can add donations to an already established restricted fund with no minimum amount.  If you are interested in making a restricted gift, please contact Jeff Mann, the Foundation President, who will work with you to make sure your philanthropic desires can be accommodated.

I am thinking about including Beth Emet in my will. Is there anything I should know before I speak to my attorney?

Legacy giving is a wonderful way to support and sustain Beth Emet into the future. While a legacy gift will not be considered a Capital Campaign gift, you will become a member of Beth Emet’s Dor L’Dor Society. Dor L’Dor means ‘Generation to Generation’.

There are two primary ways to make a legacy gift:

  • You can make a bequest in a will, trust, or estate plan; or
  • you can change or add a beneficiary designation on an IRA, pension fund, or life insurance policy, as either a specific dollar or a percentage amount (typically the easiest way to accomplish a legacy gift);

Every bequest that Beth Emet receives goes to the Beth Emet Foundation. Checks are deposited on the same or next business day. Shares of securities are sent to the brokerage office supporting the Foundation, where they are sold and the proceeds deposited into the Foundation’s account.  Unless otherwise indicated, all bequests received are added to the Assuring Our Future Fund.

Tell me more about Beth Emet’s Dor L’Dor Society.

In Beth Emet parlance, we call our legacy giving program Dor L’Dor, which means Generation to Generation.  If you have not yet put Beth Emet in your will or added Beth Emet as a beneficiary to one of your investment accounts, but are planning to do so, or if you have already done this but did not notify the synagogue, please contact Wendi Kromash, Director of Development, or Bekki Harris Kaplan, Executive Director. 

This past year Beth Emet was accepted into the JUF “Create a Jewish Legacy” training program, a partnership between the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and the Crown Family.  This is a two-year program, in which Beth Emet (as well as other participating organizations) is eligible to receive a $10,000 grant from JUF in each of the two years if we achieve 18 new legacy sign ups each year by the June 30 deadline.

We are pleased to announce that we met our goal this year and will be receiving the first JUF grant of $10,000.  But we are not stopping at 18! Legacy giving is an essential part of our philanthropic footprint and we encourage each of you to consider including Beth Emet in your estate plans. Help us achieve our goal!

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Beth Emet is a diverse, multigenerational Reform community with a dynamic approach to Judaism. Our congregation seeks to create a spiritually vibrant, socially conscious, intellectually challenging, and deeply caring environment firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and values.

  • A Close Look at Torah

    with Rabbi Andrea London
    Fridays, October 20- June 8 (No class December 8, 22, & 29, January 12 & 26, March 30, April 6)
    9:30 a.m. - 10:35 a.m.
    There are many ways to interpret Torah and the nuances of meaning that are often o...

  • With Rabbi Andrea London

    Shabbat,  December 16, January 20, February 3, March 10, April 14, May 12, June 9
    3:30–5:30 pm This class meets at Rabbi London's home.

    Once a month on Shabbat afternoon at Rabbi London's home, explo...

  • with Rabbi Allan Kensky
    Fridays, January 26 and February 2, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    The major religious movements in American Judaism have produced new prayer books in recent years. We will explore how their theological stanc...

  • with David Zarefsky
    Tuesday,  January 9 | 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
    Sessions are expected to focus on the place of the United States in the world, including relationships with Israel, the nature of the social contract, and the prin...

  • Drumming for Self-Renewal

    with Linda Schneider
    Wednesdays, December 20, January 17, and February 21

    7:30 - 9:00 p.m.

    How would it feel to take a break from the regimen and “noise” of everyday life and instead focus on renewal of mind, body, and spiri...

  • with Hyma Levin
    Tuesdays, March 6 and 13; 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
    We'll begin with the MAN who invented the slow cooker in response to his grandmother taking her pot of cholent to the baker every Friday to remain warm in his oven fo...

  • Jewish Mindfulness Meditation

    with the Center for Jewish Mindfulness at Orot
    Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. at Beth Emet (please note this class will NOT meet: April 4, April 11, April 18, May 30, and July 4)

    Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, Rabbi Sam Feinsmith, or o...

  • with Hyma Levin
    Sundays, January 14 and 21, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
    Our sages made clear that ethical behavior is not just good to do; it’s the law! Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) focuses on how we treat each other—the behavio...

  • with Rabbi Peter Knobel

    Fridays October 20 - April 13 | 8:00 – 9:00 a.m (No class, November 24, December 29, January 5, March 30, & April 6)

    This year we will continue reading Tractate Avodah Zarah, which deals with idolatr...

  • with Eric Berman
    Thursday, January 11, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
    The Bible has been a source of inspiration for artists and writers for centuries. It has equally inspired modern musicians from all faith backgrounds and across all genr...

  • with Barry Scott Wimpfheimer
    Fridays, December 8 and 15, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    The Talmud began as an oral text, the byproduct of ancient rabbinic learning practices. By choice it remained oral, long after writing technology ...

  • with Tamar Selch
    Thursday, January 25, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
    The Mishnah describes the ancient city of Tzippori, (Sepphoris) as having eighteen synagogues during the time of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi in the late second century C.E. What...

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