With hundreds of members gathered June 9 for its annual meeting, Richard A. Block, senior rabbi of The Temple-Tifereth Israel, announced that the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation approved a matching commitment of $16 million towards their campaign.  The lead gift is in memory of Jack and Lilyan Mandel, life-long Temple members.

Rabbi Block said the Mandel gift is the cornerstone of a $32 million campaign The Temple is launching to further the institution’s recently affirmed vision:

We are a warm, welcoming synagogue family where each person matters.  We cherish our rich history and traditions and foster a dynamic culture of imagination and innovation.  Members of all ages find meaning and inspiration by developing enduring personal connections with each other, with Torah, God, the State of Israel, and the Jewish People, and through acts of justice and compassion.

The campaign will include $24 million for facility expansion and renovation and $8 million to increase The Temple’s endowment.

“For 163 years, each generation of The Temple has built upon the legacy of those who came before, ensuring that our facilities enable us to serve and inspire our vibrant, engaged congregational family and the larger community,” said Rabbi Block.  “Now it is our turn.  This gift and this campaign will allow us to offer new programs and create enhanced facilities tailored to our growing needs.  The Temple-Tifereth Israel is poised to begin a new chapter in its history and we are very grateful for the generosity of the Mandel Foundation.”

“My brother, Jack, would have seen this gift to The Temple-Tifereth Israel as a wonderful opportunity to support an institution that influences and enhances thousands of lives.  We are pleased to help make The Temple’s ambitious new vision a reality,” said Morton L. Mandel, Chairman and CEO of the Foundation.  Morton and Barbara Mandel are members of The Temple.

Jeanne Tobin, president of The Temple-Tifereth Israel, explained that the board of trustees formally adopted a new vision for The Temple two years ago, but then quickly realized that making the vision a reality would require a significant investment to upgrade and expand the Beachwood campus, which has gradually become the congregation’s center of worship, education, programming and outreach.

“We felt our building and our landscape should be a physical embodiment of our vision,” Tobin said, “but when we inventoried all our unmet needs, including our commitment to provide for renewal and maintenance, we faced a total reaching almost $32 million. Clearly, that would have been a daunting challenge had the Mandel Foundation not come forward at that point.

Bob Allenick, executive director of The Temple-Tifereth Israel, explained that the board asked The Albert M. Higley Company to conduct an exhaustive audit of the Shaker Road campus to determine how to update and expand the facility to meet the congregation’s growing needs.  “We looked at everything from our sanctuary, classrooms and meeting space to our HVAC system, other mechanicals and even our parking lot,” Allenick said.  “We knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put the foundation in place that will not only serve our current congregation, but their children and grandchildren as well.”

Based on Higley’s assessment the board hired Connecticut-based Centerbrook Architects to begin developing plans for the new campus.

“We conducted an extensive RFP before choosing Centerbrook,” Tobin said.  “We were looking for a partner that would work with us at every step and encourage input from our congregation.  We want the design of our new home to be an inclusive process and embody our vision.  Nothing will be put to paper until our members have had the opportunity to be part of the planning process.”  That process will begin, she said, with a series of workshops Centerbrook will facilitate with members of the congregation.

Allenick said the campaign will be similarly inclusive.  The Mandel Foundation gift, he explained, must be matched dollar-for-dollar by other contributions.

“Our members have the opportunity to secure the next one hundred years of The Temple-Tifereth Israel,” Allenick said.  “I am confident they will want to support this historic endeavor. We will be looking for contributions that have personal meaning to each of our members.”  He also announced that Beverly Gans has joined The Temple as development director and will be working with the board to help launch the matching portion of the campaign.  Gans previously served as vice president for the Montefiore Foundation.

The Temple-Tifereth Israel was established in 1850 as Tifereth Israel, Cleveland’s first Reform synagogue.   For many years, The Temple was based in University Circle.  The facility there, on the National Register of Historic Places, is still used by the congregation for High Holy Day services, major congregational and Jewish community occasions, and life-cycle events such as weddings, b’nai mitzvah ceremonies and funerals.  In 1969, the congregation built a branch campus on Shaker Boulevard to house its religious school.  Over time, The Temple’s other activities shifted to that site.  Today, The Temple-Tifereth Israel serves approximately 1,500 families and offers a range of worship services, a pre-K through grade 12 religious school and an extensive arts program.