2 major Brooklyn Reform synagogues in merger talks as COVID-19 pandemic cuts into revenue

(JTA) – As the COVID-19 pandemic forces businesses and organizations to lay off employees and close up shop, two historic Reform synagogues in Brooklyn are entering merger discussions to address their financial challenges.

Congregation Beth Elohim and Union Temple announced the talks, which began in April, in emails to congregants on Thursday, according to the Forward.

Beth Elohim, a large synagogue in the Park Slope neighborhood, saw declining revenue at the start of the pandemic as it was forced to cancel a number of its programs.

“This is the most urgent message I have had to write as CBE’s president,” Rob Raich wrote in a letter to the congregation in April. “While I am prouder than ever to be part of this congregation, our financial health has been seriously impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Union Temple’s financial woes preceded the pandemic. According to the Forward, leaders of the synagogue, located a half-mile from Beth Elohim, announced last year that they would soon run out of money.

In the email Thursday to congregants, Union Temple leaders said the synagogue was “not big enough, strong enough, or well-resourced enough as a congregation to do what we dream of doing on our own,” according to the Forward.

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