As regards your editorial “What were they thinking?” about the Teaneck Jewish Center, the proper question is, “What was the Jewish Standard thinking?”
The Jewish Standard seems to think that the board of trustees of a synagogue should be pursuing profits as if it were representing shareholders seeking a dividend. Nothing can be further from the truth. The first responsibility of the officers and trustees of any non-profit corporation is to fulfill the mission statement of the organization. All discussions about how to raise money, how to spend money and when to acquire and dispose of assets is governed first and foremost by how the decision reflects the core values and mission statement. The second consideration is for decisions to be made in accordance with the constitution and by-laws of the organization.
The editorial of December 18th about the sale of the Teaneck Jewish Center building decries their not even considering the highest cash offer. This specious logic denies the very nature of non-profit, for it fails to ask the most fundamental question. What would the board do with an additional $4 million (the reported discrepancy between Holy Name’s offer and Heichal HaTorah)? Who is to say that keeping this valuable piece of real estate in the heart of the Jewish community as an active asset in daily use by a Jewish High School is not the best way to honor the mission statement, constitution and by-laws of the Teaneck Jewish Center?
Large parcels of real estate that are suitable for Jewish schools, synagogues and community centers within easy walking distance or short drives from the population they are designed to serve are hard to come by. Transferring such an asset to a health care institution is not a decision to take lightly – and certainly not an action to be taken just because of the money involved.
The Board of Trustees of the Teaneck Jewish Center has some difficult decisions to make. They are the custodians of a valuable asset that is no longer fulfilling the organization’s mission to serve the Jewish community. The changing demographics of the Jewish community in Bergen County require the organization to make difficult decisions about how to fulfill their mission. Criticizing them about turning down a better cash offer gives no constructive input. Gratuitous insults about the size of the board of trustees relative to the membership – a number that is often defined in the constitution and difficult to change – are grossly unfair and insulting to the Teaneck Jewish Center and to the intelligence of the Jewish Standard’s readers.