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 seven to eight 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 summer. 

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 when something breaks down.

One example of this in practice is how we are approaching the installation of the new HVAC system. Last year, 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 this summer while the affected areas of the building are not being used.  

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 make up for the shortfall in our budget. Our annual budget for fiscal year 2017-2018 is approximately $2.2 million (85% of which is made up of personnel costs). 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.  This year’s Mitzvah Appeal goal is $235,000.

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.  Beth Emet believes strongly that no member should be turned away for financial reasons.  The Mitzvah Appeal supports the gap to ensure our revenue meets our expenses while following a very lean 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.

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

You will see periodic updates in the Chadashon (the printed bulletin that comes out twice a year), and regular updates and information in EmetMail.  We will update the website regularly with new information as it becomes available, add video clips on social media (Facebook and YouTube), and hold Capital Campaign Conversations periodically. The first Capital Campaign Conversations took place June 20, 2017 in the Weiner Room, where more than 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.  The second Capital Campaign Conversations took place on February 26, 2018 where more than 100 congregants viewed the latest drawings related to the renovation scheduled to begin in May 2018.

We are always available to talk to you, answer your questions, and respond to your concerns. Please contact Bekki Harris Kaplan, Executive Director, or Wendi Kromash, Director of Development. If you call the office (847-869-4230), Bekki’s extension is 304 and Wendi’s extension is 325.

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 (Co-Chair) and her husband, Steve, Jeff Mann (Co-Chair and Treasurer of the Campaign), Stopher Bartol, Ross Bricker, Patti and Mel Gerbie, Ariel and Jennifer Goldfarb, and David and Lizzie Graham.
  • The Building Renovation Committee, comprised of Lee Weintraub, Steve Galler, Sharon Ephraim, Bob Render, Brad White, Bekki Harris Kaplan, and Rabbi London, has 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.
  • The Steering Committee, comprised of Sheryl Bartol, Hillary Coustan, Jeff Mann, Doug Oettinger, Brad White and Bob Render, works in collaboration with the Building Renovation Committee to determine which priorities are addressed in which order based on available funding.
  • 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. Check out this link here.

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, which we’ve divided into two phases. Phase One will include replacing the HVAC system, renovating the Sanctuary, Crown Room, and Foyer areas, and updating some of the existing exits and entrances. Phase Two will primarily include creating a new Western Entrance into the building.

A consultant hired by the synagogue identified existing building system conditions that needed immediate attention. The building’s system for heating, cooling, and ventilation (the HVAC system – Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) is beyond 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.

To get a sense of the physical renovations to the building spaces, it helps to imagine a tour of the building.

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 small meetings to take place. Imagine a new lobby that will be warm, inviting, and will serve as a key community building space.

Continuing to the Sanctuary, you will walk through a transitional space (Sanctuary Vestibule) that will include siddurim (prayer books) and accessible items such as large print siddurim, magnifying glasses, hearing assisted devices, readers, and items that will enhance one’s worship for those with special needs. Once you walk into the Sanctuary imagine a re-envisioned space with new comfortable seating, greatly improved acoustics, updated technology that will promote comfort, accessibility, and spirituality, and improved heating and cooling (as described earlier).

Moving on through the building, imagine experiencing a refurbished Crown Room with new carpeting, improved acoustics, assisted hearing technology, and aesthetic appeal.  It will be a wonderful way in which to celebrate family simchot (happy occasions) as well as offering a large venue available to both members and third parties (thus providing additional rental income to Beth Emet).

Next, imagine enjoying three new, fully accessible first floor public restrooms.

Throughout all the rooms that we are renovating, we are bringing our Judaism alive, to be interwoven into all the spaces.

The physical renovations will include environmental considerations and be accessible 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 to 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 meet our fundraising goals and complete a successful Campaign.

Besides Phase One, which we understand is planned for the summer of 2018, can you tell me more about what is planned for Phase Two?

Yes. Another area that is a priority is creating a new entrance off the parking lot (facing Asbury to the west) to provide accessibility and more security features than our current Dempster Street entrance. This new entrance will provide regular access during business hours, for after hour programs and classes, and for Early Childhood and Beit Sefer.

Specific plans are still being developed, but we envision the new entrance will include a wide ramp to make it easier to enter and leave the building for those with strollers, walkers, or wheelchairs; an overhanging roof to protect waiting students and worshippers from inclement weather; a secured entrance with visual recognition/acknowledgement for anyone entering the building; security cameras; lighting in 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 members and guests.

We also intend to renovate the Weiner Room so that it is more comfortable and functional.

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 our child off at Beit Sefer, 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. 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:

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.  Members came to various focus group conversations and attended a congregational meeting in 2012 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 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 passion 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.

How will the renovations benefit our community?

A 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:

Phase One (Summer 2018)

  • 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. In the new design, the books will be available in several places throughout the building.
  • There will be a new soundproof operable partition between the Sanctuary and the Crown Room. 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 via ramp or by ascending fewer stairs.
  • Those with hearing impairments will benefit from improved acoustics including the installation of the latest antennae technology.
  • The improved acoustics will enhance the spiritual experience for everyone.
  • The installation of new interlocking, stackable seats will significantly increase the comfort of sitting in the sanctuary. Most seats will also have a place for prayer books.
  • There will be three new, accessible, unisex restrooms that will be modern and convenient.
  • Minor upgrades to the Weiner Room will lead to a better overall experience resulting from a consistent air temperature and less HVAC-related noise.

Phase Two (Summer 2019)

  • 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 and 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.
  • Additional upgrades to the Weiner Room could also include improved lighting, new ceiling finishes, and other enhancements.

We believe we are planning for the future through this renovation. We want our members to experience a more accessible and welcoming experience where our mission and our Jewish vision are interwoven throughout the building.

How are contractors and sub-contractors selected for this project to ensure that we hire the most qualified people and companies?

Vendor selection is a serious responsibility in any project.   We followed a multi-step process to ensure both quality and cost-effectiveness.   First, we identified pre-qualified General Contractors to ensure that these organizations would be a good fit for our project scope.  Next, we solicited proposals from three prequalified contractors, which provided competitive bidding for the project, including: construction management costs (staffing), fee (profit) and project overhead costs such as insurance. 

In August of 2017, we selected Bulley & Andrews as General Contractor based on a combination of competitive costs, the firm’s qualifications, and in-person interviews.  Since being selected, Bulley & Andrews has assisted Beth Emet in construction logistics planning, constructability reviews of the architectural and engineering drawings, real-time cost estimate updates, and meetings with the Beth Emet consultant team and the Building and Steering committees at regular intervals.  After bid documents were completed in mid-January, Bulley & Andrews competitively bid all the subcontractor trades.  This is an open-book process where we will see all the subcontractor bids and ultimately use them to negotiate a comprehensive construction cost agreement.

In sum, we selected Bulley & Andrews to not only construct the project, but to help us ensure that the design team draws and specifies in a way that is within budget, can be built easily, and features materials that are available within the firm constraints of our construction schedule.  They have been immeasurably helpful in allowing the project manager (who we hired as our partner to help us oversee and manage this project on a day-to-day basis) to manage the design in a way that preserves the design without cheapening the final product.

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?

Unfortunately the trellis doesn’t provide the acoustical functionality that is needed to create an improved acoustical environment.  The decision was made to remove it and provide a newer, more acoustically responsible solution. We tried various ways to incorporate it in some way, but in the end, the decision was made to remove it and replace it with something that provides greater functionality.

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 leveling the sanctuary floor will not affect the sight lines from the seats to the bimah.  One change they proposed, that we approved, is to narrow the width of the bimah so that it will be seen from every vantage point in the sanctuary. There will be no ‘bad’ seats.

An addition to the sanctuary will be a new wall treated with a special finish, allowing us to incorporate and project texts and video whether it be in services or for a congregational event.

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 limits flexibility and alternative seating arrangements.

I have difficulty hearing and use hearing aids. Even with my aids, the current acoustics in Beth Emet are lacking – 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 after the seats! We have hired 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 the Sanctuary and Crown Room. In addition to the latest technology, there will be some subtle changes within the room itself: sound-diffusing wood above and as a part of the divider that separates the Sanctuary and the Crown Room; new acoustical panels designed to absorb sound; additional carpeting; and the installation of new ceiling materials in the Sanctuary and the Crown Room.

What are the plans for the bathrooms?

The renovation scope and timing of the existing public restrooms is still being finalized.  However, three new, accessible, unisex public restrooms will be included in the Phase One scope of work.  All new fixtures will consider environmental concerns regarding water usage. 



What will happen to the synagogue during the renovation?

While the offices and school classrooms will be fully functioning, services will be held at the Unitarian Church a block north of Beth Emet.  We have utilized their space for worship in the past (e.g. Chavurah services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur).  The Soup Kitchen will also be having their weekly meals there as well.

Would we save money if we did all the renovation in one big push instead of stretching it out over two summers?

Possibly, but it is critical that we don’t commit to spend money that we haven’t yet raised through pledges. We are combining as many things as the budget and time constraints allow into Phase One (Summer 2018). 

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.

For Phase One we will be enhancing the exterior building with new security cameras that cover the perimeter as well as the parking lot.  We will also be replacing the functionality of the monitors that assist the staff to identify who is entering the building and to watch for any questionable activity. There will also be an improvement to exterior lighting.  The main Sanctuary doors and the interior doors in the Crown Room and Sanctuary will be replaced to further enhance our security.

Once we move to Phase Two of the construction we will be further enhancing our security by building a double-door main entryway off of the parking lot allowing the staff to better visualize who is coming into the building and a means with which to monitor and grant access to visitors.

What changes are planned for the parking lot?

Parking lot upgrades are scheduled for Phase Two and depending on the overall amount of funds raised will include:  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. The lines in the parking lot will be updated and repainted and we will be exploring ways to maximize the number of cars that can be accommodated.

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. Our goal is 100% participation.

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) 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, download this pdfform, complete it, and return to Beth Emet.

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 Beit Sefer (religious 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 and the greater community, 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 instead of how you can be a steward of Beth Emet’s mission and values helping to provide meaningful Jewish experiences and connections for others.  

Our hope is 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. We are grateful for every gift we receive regardless of amount.  How much to contribute is a very personal decision based on one’s financial capacity and individual desire to support Beth Emet. 

We have published a gift table showing the number of gifts we have received at various giving levels (pdfclick this link to see a current copy).  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 seven to eight years, and it’s been 18 years since Beth Emet last had a campaign.  Many of our mechanical systems need a major overhaul, our facilities are showing their age, 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.

We have made great progress toward our goal.  Through February 2018, we have raised in excess of $4.7 million (over 77% of our goal) and have already collected more than $2.2 million in contributions allowing us to confidently start the first phase of construction later this summer.  In addition, we have already contributed over $750k to Beth Emet’s endowment, 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.  Ideally every member would 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 so they can each experience the feeling of ownership and stewardship of this Campaign.

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.

How will the contributions be allocated?

According to our very public plans, 65% of all monies raised will go toward repairs and 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 herehere.) Of the more than $2.6 million in donations already received for the Capital Campaign, over $750k has already been contributed to the Campaign and invested. Those monies are earning income, which will provide incremental funds toward Beth Emet’s operating budget each 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 funds for a seasonal working capital line (managed by The Beth Emet Foundation and included in the contribution totals mentioned above), thereby reducing our reliance on our existing bank provided credit line.  The balance of these funds will be used to cover campaign-related expenses.

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

We are only committing to spend funds that we have raised through pledges.  Through February of 2018, we have received cash donations representing over 55% of our pledges. We conservatively estimate that we will receive at least another 15% of our pledges prior to Phase One being completed. 

The difference between the cash collected and the cost of construction will be “self-financed” using funds held in our endowment.  The Foundation will effectively be acting as our bank.  To minimize the impact on the overall investment returns of the endowment, the Foundation will only be using funds that would otherwise be invested in its bond allocation.  While this may sound complicated, this construct is the lowest cost option to ensure we can complete the Phase One construction in a timely manner without any risk of long-term debt.

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

Great!! Thank you. You have several options: you can pdfdownload this 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.  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.

What happens to the money Beth Emet has already collected?

Funds collected on behalf of the Capital Campaign are deposited into a segregated bank account and allocated for their intended purposes.  Funds allocated for renovations are held until expenditures are incurred.  Funds allocated for the endowment and to provide seasonal working capital are transferred to The Beth Emet Foundation, and funds allocated for expenses are held until those expenditures are incurred.

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, as well as the salary of the Director of Development. 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, the Steering Committee, the Rabbi and Executive Director, working collaboratively on issues that arise and decisions that need to be made.  He is responsible for keeping this larger group informed of progress, schedules, roadblocks, contract bids, vendor selection options, and other details.

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, the Steering 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 quick 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 held in a money market account thereby generating additional income to be used for these purposes.

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.

Additional information about The Beth Emet Foundation is available on the Beth Emet website; you can click on a link herehere. In summary, prior to the start of the Capital Campaign, the Beth Emet Foundation was 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.

As a result of the Capital Campaign, two new funds are being created:  the T’rumah Campaign Fund and the T’rumah Liquidity Fund.  Should the Capital Campaign goals be met, the T’rumah Campaign Fund will be funded with at least $1.5 million and the T’rumah Liquidity Fund will be funded with at least $300,000.  Through the end of February 2018, over $750,000 has already been contributed to these two funds.

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

The Beth Emet Foundation contributes five percent of the three-year average balance of its unrestricted funds toward the annual operating expenses of the synagogue. Prior to additional funds being contributed from the Capital Campaign, the historical amount contributed was 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:
1. You can make a bequest in a will, trust, or estate plan; or
2. 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 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017 and received 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 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018 so we can collect an additional $10,000.

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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 Gerry Macsai
    Sunday, April 8, 9:30-11:00 a.m.
    Prompted by her recent trip to Budapest, Gerry Macsai will present a current picture of Jewish life in that area amid the blatant anti-Semitism still displayed and expressed th...

  • With Rabbi Andrea London

    Shabbat, March 10, 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, explore Jewish spiritual practices that combine praye...

  • Chametz Fest, Movie, and More: The Women's Balcony

    with Bekki Harris Kaplan
    Saturday, April 7 at 6:00 p.m.
    As Passover concludes, enjoy a light ‘chameitz’ supper, recite Havdalah, and watch the Israeli film, The Women's Balcony , to be followed by a discussion. Israel’s number ...

  • with David Zarefsky
    Monday, April 9 and Tuesday, June 12 | 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 contr...

  • Drumming for Self-Renewal

    with Linda Schneider
    Wednesdays, March 21, April 18 and June 20 and Monday, May 14

    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...

  • with Lindy Rubin and Jonathan Orlove
    April 15, 9:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (bus leaves Beth Emet at 9:30 a.m.)
    Art educator Lindy Rubin and architect Jonathan Orlove will lead a tour of sacred art located in three area synagogues: ...

  • with Rabbi Burton Cohen
    Friday, March 23, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    Participants will examine a selection from the Mishnah and Talmud (the first postbiblical codes of Jewish law) dealing with the origins and rationale for the b...

  • with Marilyn Price
    Shabbat, April 7 (potluck lunch following Kahal service)
    Marilyn’s recent book, From Gratitude to Blessings and Back, helps the reader enter into the exercise of thanking, through the avenues of Jewish bles...

  • with David Shyovitz
    Fridays, April 13 and 20 | 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    We will read and analyze several pre-modern Jewish narratives, seeking to uncover their historical and theological significance. As we shall see, Jewish s...

  • Thursday, April 12, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
    Chicago area Holocaust survivors of Nazi persecution in the former Soviet Union will share their compelling and previously unheard stories. Presenters Elliot Lefkovitz and Yonit Hoffman will...

  • 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...

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