Introduction to the Voluntary Commitment Model and to this Webpage

The Overall Plan 

As described in a recent letter to the congregation from PSC President Ron Mester and Rabbi Corey Helfand and in a Resolution of the PSC Board of Trustees passed at the July Board meeting:

  • The Board is recommending that the PSC community move away from a "fee for service" membership model and towards a "voluntary commitment" membership model that will allow us to create a more relational and connected community that each of us values. (See more description of the proposed model just below.) 
  • The Board is launching a conversation within the congregation about this idea, to take place over the next several months, through which members will be able to learn more about how the model has worked elsewhere, and help to shape how we might create and implement the model at PSC. 
  • The Board is hoping for a fleshed out, proposed PSC "voluntary commitment" model, including a possible 2016-17 fiscal year implementation plan, to be developed through congregational input and committee work and presented to the congregation for approval at a special meeting, probably in December 2015 or January 2016. 

What is the Voluntary Commitment Model? 

The Voluntary Commitment Model is a set of changes intended to align Peninsula Sinai Congregation's structure and operations with the values and vision that we share. Here are the primary components of the model, as the Board has conceived it thus far:

  1. We are a welcoming Jewish community built around the principles and values of Conservative Judaism, that supports each other, as well as the organization we call our Shul, in all moments of life.  
  2. We recognize that each of our members has his/her own preferred way(s) of engaging and volunteering in the community, and that’s wonderful!  As a community we want to encourage such participation by as many members as possible by making it easy and meaningful.

  3. There would be no more dues to “belong” to PSC.  Instead, all PSC members would be made aware of the cost of maintaining the activities, personnel, and properties of the Congregation -- through a transparent sharing of our budget. Each member would then be asked to make a meaningful annual financial commitment to help cover these costs, based on a recommended “sustaining level” per member family. The amount of this "Voluntary Commitment" would be determined solely by each member, and could be less or more than the “sustaining level.”  
  4. People who are not yet members of PSC are welcomed to participate in community activities without upfront discussions about "dues" or "fees," which have in the past presented a barrier to participation. As individuals and families become integrated into our community, they will also be integrated into our “Voluntary Commitment” program.

What is this webpage? 

The purpose of this webpage is to serve as one venue where congregants can learn more about a voluntary commitment model and provide input on how that might be adapted for PSC.   Specifically, from this page you can access the following: 

  1. A good list of articles and several studies (with links to those and/or downloadable attachments) primarily about how a voluntary commitment model has been implemented or considered at other congregations around the country.
  2. comments and questions page, where congregants (and others) can pose questions or share comments about the model -- either privately to PSC leaders and staff, or (ultimately) in an open public forum.  That page may eventually include a list of frequently asked questions regarding the model and the plan, with some responses.

  3. The August 2015 letter to the congregation introducing the new model and the highly collaborative process that PSC will engage in over the coming months to consider and flesh out this idea.

  4. The July 21, 2015 Resolution of the PSC Board of Trustees recommending the new model.

As the Rabbi and Ron noted in their letter to the congregation, "There are many details to be worked out - and a lot of questions that need to be asked and answered. There are risks - but there is also the opportunity for a huge benefit in the form of a more engaged and committed community that relies on each other and supports our common goals and vision to be a derech, a pathway for making Judaism and Jewish identity a more meaningful and spiritually fulfilling part of people's lives.... Over the next month or so, your Board of Trustees will present the basics of this new approach to the congregation as a whole - and then invite every member to participate in defining how a Voluntary Commitment format can work best at Peninsula Sinai Congregation."  

Hopefully this webpage can serve a useful role in that process.