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Frequently Asked Questions

More Questions (and Answers!) will be added to this document as the project evolves, to reflect additional congregant questions as well as progress made on the project. Please continue to refer to these FAQs for updated information.


UPDATE: How much has been raised? How much do we need to raise? How close are we to the goal?

Our goal is to enter the new building with no debt and no mortgage and a fund for deferred maintenance. We believe this is fiscally responsible. The total amount we need to have on hand to build, furnish and program in the new building is $4.5 million:
The current budget for just the construction of the building is close to $3.7 million, excluding furnishings. We have been working with the contractor to keep the budget reasonable and have gone ‘back to the drawing board’ several times. This number is higher than first anticipated due to a combination of the current building boom, natural disasters and recent tariffs. The increase is not attributed to enhancements or special requests (other than an elevator add).
We believe it is prudent to begin construction with a cushion for unanticipated challenges
We need to furnish the building, including the sanctuary, as well as have programming funds to engage congregants of all ages in our new home.


We have $2.3 million in the bank from the sale of the building and cash already in from pledges to the campaign.

As of the beginning of December, we have $ 1.1million in pledges scheduled to be paid.
We still need to raise approximately $1 million  


Any funding in excess of the goal will allow us to choose among additional programming and / or deferred maintenance as we meet the needs of our growing congregation.


Why do we need a fundraising campaign?
When we purchased our new location, we did so by talking to a few contractors who projected a simple renovation with a budget of $2 million.  It took us some time to sell our former location and during that time, the design of our new location evolved.  Modernizing our new locations is simply going to cost more than originally planned.  The proceeds from the sale, plus paying off our mortgage which secured our new location and a significant increase in the cost of construction has left us short of funds. While we will not overspend on this renovation, we will not incur debt or add a building assessment to membership commitments either, so we must raise the funds needed to pay for the renovations.

How will a building campaign help meet congregational goals?
A successful building campaign helps us meet a few objectives:

  • We believe this is the time to secure our congregation’s future, and the future for our children. We are well positioned with a new synagogue building and new senior Rabbi. Our moment is now.
  • A successful campaign will allow us to move into a furnished building without debt, as well as implement relevant and new programming.
  • We also intend to raise awareness and funding to augment our Foundation Funds.

How much did we make from the sale of our building? How much is available to improve the new location?
Our former location sold for $3,950,000 and we netted $2,248,000 for the improvement of the building. Although this was the only viable offer received, it was competitive given the location and real estate market. We are especially pleased that the offer was from a religious organization which we believe resulted in a higher price as the buyer is able to use the building without significant renovation. The difference between the sales price and the funds available is as follows:

  • $1,260,000 million for our new location. This includes the cost of the real estate, realtor fees, and closing costs.
  • $442,000 to repay our loan to the Temple Israel Foundation (includes $21,000 of interest). The loan from the Foundation was necessary due to several years of shortfall between membership income and Temple expenses. We are grateful we had access to The Temple Israel Foundation in our time of need. You may remember that several years ago we received an unsolicited offer of $8 million for our previous building. While we actively pursued this opportunity, the offer turned out to be unviable. As part of the process in pursuit of the offer we hosted a congregational town hall, and those that participated in the meeting reached a consensus that, regardless of the outcome of the unsolicited offer, a smaller space would better serve our congregation. In many ways, the unsolicited offer became the opening for some healthy and important congregational dialogue about our future. Ultimately, the $3,950,000 sale price was the only viable offer made for the building.

What happens if we do not raise the funds necessary for current plans?
Although we believe we will raise the funds in a reasonable amount of time, we do have options: The first option is to delay the construction until all funds are committed. The second option is to defer certain building improvements (such as adding the additional religious school classrooms/multi-purpose spaces) until a later time when the additional funds are available. We do believe that deferring improvements will most likely increase the overall cost of the building.

How will my gift be recognized?

All gifts will be recognized even if they are not eligible for specific naming opportunities. Recognition will include plaques, synagogue communications, etc. Gifts can also be recognized as anonymous. We believe naming opportunities provide congregants a way to memorialize their families and legacy.


What are the naming opportunities?

We have provided an initial menu of naming rights options. These will continue to evolve as design initiatives are finalized. Please see naming opportunities.


Can I set up a payment plan for my pledge over multiple years?

We are happy to accommodate a payment plan at a member's request.  We will still need to pay for the cost of construction for the entire building at its completion, and deferred payments might result in a need and interest expense of a short-term bank loan.  Therefore we ask that payment plans only be established for donations greater than $5000, or if you are truly in need of a deferment. If you prefer such a payment plan, please complete the commitment form accordingly.  We are grateful for your contribution. Thank you so much!


How does this campaign impact other fundraising for the synagogue?
Annual membership and religious school dues keep the lights on for all our members. Therefore, we prefer you prioritize your annual membership commitment which we hope will be paid prior to your building campaign pledge.


Will clergy be spending time on fundraising?   
Our clergy are best able to share the vision of the congregation with all our members, including potential donors to the campaign and will therefore be a vital part of the fundraising efforts as their schedule permits. However, serving the congregants in the pastoral and well-being of our congregation remains the number one priority. Moreover, the building campaign window is anticipated to be very narrow. Our clergy have already planned their participation in the campaign in their overall summer schedule.


We are saving for/paying for our children’s school/college now and have other financial commitments. Why should we give to this campaign?
Just as you plan and save for your children’s future, so too is it important for us to think about and plan for our Synagogue’s future. We know every Synagogue family has its own journeys and obligations; an investment in your spiritual home now will help ensure our synagogue is there for all the important moments in your family’s future. We are committed to make paying for your commitment as easy as possible to fit into your other obligations.


My kids are grown; why should I contribute?
Our synagogue community is made up of families: generations of children, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. We hope you will think of contributing to the building campaign as part of your legacy to your family and your role as a member of the Temple Israel community. With your participation, you help to ensure the Synagogue will be here for them. Think of it as ‘paying it forward’ as others have done for us. We also hope that regardless of whether your children have moved on you feel that Temple Israel is your spiritual home!


This gift will be a stretch for us. How can we make it work for our circumstances?
Thank you for participating! We are committed to make paying for your building campaign contribution as easy as possible. To that end, we have established many levels of giving and created payment options to allow you to pay your commitment over several years, though if you are able, full payment within a year is preferred and greatly appreciated.

Can I make a planned gift?

Yes! Temple Israel Foundation provides a perpetual stream of funding to the Synagogue. Gifts made to the Foundation are invested and earnings of approximately 4 to 4.5% are returned to the Temple to provide additional funding for Temple Israel activities and operations. Also, Foundation gifts are made in perpetuity, providing a perpetual stream of funding to Temple Israel beyond the life of the donor. For more information or to learn more about how to set up a Legacy gift, please contact Brian Tuckerman, Foundation President, at or Elaine Tenenbaum, Foundation Executive Director, at


How will we cover non-recurring maintenance expenses after the building is open?
A special building maintenance reserve will be funded with a portion of current membership commitments to ensure long term viability. Our synagogue is unique in relying on the commitments of our members without an upcharge for a separate building fund. Rather than assess an additional building fund, we prefer to focus on annual membership commitments commensurate with the average per family cost to operate the Synagogue.


When will we move into our new building?
Completion of plans, permitting and zoning will enable us to be ready to break ground. Our contractor anticipates 12 months of construction. Our plan is to raise the necessary funds prior to starting construction, our fundraising success will be critical as to our timing.


What is the project finish time of the renovations?
This is still unknown as we are looking at ways to continue to cut costs and value engineer (always). We promise to communicate updates as we work with the City, the architect and the construction manager. This is a complex and tedious process, but we are committed to being transparent with the congregation. We want to commence and complete construction as soon as practically possible, but with construction costs going through the roof, what is necessary versus what is nice to have is now top of mind.



UPDATE: Breaking ground: When will we start? When will the building be ready?

If all goes according to plan we will break ground in the spring, no later than April 1st. If we can begin earlier - we will. Our contractor anticipates 12 months of construction.  Our plan remains to raise the necessary funds prior to starting construction.




UPDATE: How are we making sure our new building is secure? What will we have in place to protect our congregants?
We are uniquely positioned to make our new facility a model for what it means to be a secure synagogue facility in the 21st century. We take this very seriously and are working with experts to achieve this goal.We have had security experts walk our new property and have spoken with local law enforcement. Our security committee continues to be engaged as well.


Could we move into the new building as-is, do minimal work and not expand the footprint?

Unfortunately, this was never an option. The facility fell below existing building codes, as it had not been updated in decades. When we purchased the building we did not plan on expanding the footprint significantly. However, given our growing membership and the suggested design modifications to accommodate our needs, we are adding approximately 9,000 sq. ft. to the new building to make sure that the worship space, social hall, classrooms, offices, storage and bathrooms are sufficient. Even so, the new building is still significantly smaller than our prior building (19,000 sq. ft. vs 59,000 sq. ft.).

Given that the congregation is growing, how much do you foresee it growing? Will this building be big enough for our congregation?
Regarding the growth of our congregation, we anticipated losing as much as 30% of our congregation. However, since we have left our former location, we grew by approximately 10%.   We remain committed to not overbuilding - we will not build to optimistic or short-term numbers.   Of course, it would be optimal to have all services to meet our congregational needs located in our new facility, but it also might be necessary to hold High Holidays in a location which is larger than what we contemplate building.-

What is the new floor plan compared to the existing floor plan?
The new footprint is projected to a total size of ~ 19,000 square feet (or less) versus a former square footage of ~ 59,000 square feet.

How can we accommodate attendance on High Holidays given the anticipated size of the building?
We will most likely have to hold 2 services for each High Holiday vs. 1 (in addition to children's service, teen service, etc). However, we will continue to determine whether there are other options in the city that are cost beneficial. We are choosing not to size our building solely for High Holiday Services.  The expansion of the sanctuary would be strictly to accommodate life cycle events, such as B’nai Mitzvahs and larger funerals, but nothing is set in stone and in the end, will be cost driven.

When will the construction process begin? Why do all the funds required for the renovation need to be collected before the construction process begins?
In the past, when construction started before the funds were raised, the congregation had to take on a mortgage which diverted support from ongoing maintenance expenses, programming and even payroll. We do not intend to take this path; instead we want to be confident we have raised the required funding to pay for the construction outright.

How are named opportunities from the previous building being memorialized/recognized in the new building?

The new building will honor its history in a couple of ways. Previously named artifacts will retain their named rights. A special plaque will recognize donors from the previous building. Please know that those memorialized on our sacred memorial wall will continue to be honored. A committee of congregants will make sure our artifacts are properly placed within our new home.


How much natural light will there be in the atrium/social hall area?
Although not yet finalized, the plan is to have as much light as possible throughout the building.

Will there be an elevator?
We are making every effort to install an elevator to accommodate a wheelchair or walker. A regular elevator is extremely expensive, takes up space and is costly to maintain. Although not yet finalized - we continue to review and will determine the most cost-effective option.

What type of space will be available for volunteers to do office-type work?

The dedicated office space will have enough room for volunteers. There will also be additional space on the first floor for volunteer work.

Will there be moveable walls and other design elements to maximize the uses of the space?
We currently plan on having movable walls between the Sanctuary and the Social Hall as we would need those walls to be movable to accommodate overflow from the Sanctuary to the Social Hall when necessary.

What is going to happen with the windows in the sanctuary?
Given the increase in labor, materials and city requirements, we continue to review and make changes to the renovation footprint. We are working with interior designers to make room and incorporate many of the art/artifacts which we took with us when we vacated our former location. Given the dramatic reduction in space, that will be a thoughtful effort.

How will the new sanctuary accommodate those with hearing impairments?
We are still finalizing the design of the building and have just started our meetings with the interior designer. We have asked the architect and builder to research option to maximize participation for those with hearing impairments including the LOOP to determine whether this is a cost-effective option for Temple Israel. Devices used in the past were often less than effective and we are looking at alternatives to replace our former devices.

Will there be a chapel?
We do not plan to have a separate chapel because doing so would require increasing the size of the building significantly at a substantial cost. We plan to have one sanctuary that will accommodate our congregation. Current design allows the sanctuary to accommodate additional seating into the social hall when larger services occur.


Will the bima be accessible for those with disabilities?
We plan to have a wheelchair accessible ramp leading up to the bima.

How the parking will work?
There will be 2 parking lots and 2 entrances to the building. The curb cuts/entrances will be redone to minimize traffic on East Broad as well as to maximize efficiency for Temple and as required has been approved by the City of Columbus. We will continue to have special duty officers from the Columbus Police Department present whenever the situation or traffic warrants.

What will the outdoor space be like? How we are planning to use it effectively? What are we planning to do to minimize the bell tower?
Currently we have 36 trees being "held" at a nursery to be planted. These trees were a tribute to Rabbi Zinkow upon his departure and we envision beautiful grounds surrounding our building and that design is evolving. As to the removal of the bell tower, it is a consistent comment, however, its removal may not be cost effective.  The staff offices will be located upstairs, and the location of the tower may add some space for a café/meeting space, etc. which may be interesting (or not).  To be determined.       


Mon, March 25 2019 18 Adar II 5779