The Next Generation

Overview

Artist’s rendition of the new home for Mizmor LeDavid based on current architectural plans

Mizmor LeDavid is a neighborhood, halachic, Zionist synagogue that strives to create an inviting, warm environment with spirited, serious participatory prayer and in-depth Torah learning.  The community supports a number of charitable and learning programs including Israeli soldiers participating  in the IDF conversion course, Polish  groups rediscovering their Judaism, fundraising events for Keren Doris charity, a community urban vegetable garden, as well as musical events and Torah lectures.

The Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat service sung in the style of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach is legendary with people of all ages, especially young Israeli and visiting adults, who come together in dance and song to honor the Shabbat. Ask anyone who has been there – it is truly a unique Jerusalem experience that has been described as ‘electric’ and “The spiritually uplifting highlight of my week.”  This is what a shul should be.

The Spirit of Mizmor

The spirit of Mizmor is expressed through focused intentional prayer in Nusach Sfard  (Chassidic and Carlebach style), including the addition of new melodies and joyful dance.  This not only applies to Shabbat, but also pervades all holidays and celebrations from the festivals to Yom Haatzmaut and the High Holy Days. When permitted, musical instruments enliven the worship.

Our approach to learning Torah is equally spirited, encouraging critical thinking and exchange of ideas through regular divrei torah, shiurim, guest lectures, shabatonim and cultural events. Our after-kiddush parshat teaching on Shabbat is especially lively, often resulting in open, enthusiastic, well-informed discussions that are also down-to-earth. The Kehilla embraces religious and ethnic diversity within a friendly, relaxed ambience, where serious, spiritual davening is combined with regular social interaction.

Our prayer, learning and charitable activities are intended to  reflect  our core values:

  • Tikkun Olam
  • Acceptance of the other
  • Expanded Consciousness
  • Healthy Mind Body & Spirit
  • Social & Environmental Responsibility

A Place for All to Pray, Learn and Love

In addition to our renowned, spirited prayer, Mizmor LeDavid supports critical thinking through regular divrei Torah, shiurim, guest lectures, shabbatonim and cultural events.  Mizmor strives to be sensitive to gender issues and other needs of community members within the framework of Halacha through study, innovation and the warm embrace of all newcomers. The Kehilla endorses religious and ethnic diversity within a friendly, relaxed ambience, where serious, spiritual davening is combined with social interaction. Mizmor fulfills its mission to reach out to the broader community through its learning programs, tzedakah and tikkun olam work with indigent elderly, welcoming converting soldiers and visitors of other religions into their homes.

Our Vision for the Next Generation

Only a great vessel can hold great light.

While Mizmor L’David has touched many people using minimal resources, its potential in Jerusalem to impact the spirit of the Jewish people and beyond remains relatively untapped. Blessed with a diverse membership with expertise in prayer, Torah learning, meditation, horticulture, biblical tourism, physical training and music, the community has so much more to offer.

The main obstacle limiting the congregation’s potential is the lack of an adequate physical structure. An improved space will facilitate the expansion of membership, offer significantly more activities and programs, create a place for community events and allow Mizmor L’David to become self sustaining.

Our daily, Shabbat and holiday prayers, as well as our expanded local and international programs, will be substantially enhanced when our inner spirit is reflected in the outer dwelling place.  We envision a Beit Knesset and classrooms that harmonize with the beauty of our prayer. We envision a place of dignity, cleanliness and safety  where our children can learn and play, and all our members can find comfortable seating within the sanctuary.  We envision a space where our members and visitors will feel inspired by both our inner spirit as well as the ‘garment’ of our beautiful, but simple place of worship.

For over a decade, Mizmor L’David has brought this rich experience to our congregation and to thousands of visitors from Israel and other nations.  We are open to everyone.  We have inspired many to find their way back to Judaism by rekindling the flame of spirituality, the love of God, and the love of the Jewish people.  The sincerity and energy of our congregation creates a spiritual emanation that is palpable. The time is ripe to expand  and bring forth these “wellsprings” to our greater community, throughout the world, to all Am Israel.

Our Challenge

    I.        What we need

Our success has outgrown our space. We cannot contain the number of people who come and pray at our shul. People have correctly noted safety concerns about blocked access and egress, lack of seats for elders, and the many who are forced to stand or remain in the courtyard. Sadly, some avoid attending services because of these conditions. We would like open our door to more people from all backgrounds.

Currently we have evening and morning services on Shabbat and Holidays, but on Shabbatot we cannot include the afternoon service because the facility is used by the organization from whom we currently rent. During the week, we have a well attended morning minyan, but do not have the facilities for afternoon and evening services for the same reason. We require our own premises if we wish to cover all of the tefilot on Shabbat, holidays and weekdays.

One of most pressing issues we face is personal safety. The current premises is littered with debris, including sharp metal scraps and  wood pieces with nails that are hazardous to  our children and adults,  one of whom was recently injured. There is nothing more endearing at Mizmor than hearing the kids singing in the children’s service. Cultivating an enjoyable shul experience for our children and grandchildren is a major priority that we must address.

With expansion also comes additional operational and maintenance expenses. Owning our own building with a dedicated reception hall and equipped kitchen will allow us to expand our existing fundraising events, which will offset a portion of these expenses. We anticipate that a new, modern building with expanded services will attract additional members, also increasing revenue from a growing membership base.

  II.        What we would like to do

We would like to leverage and expand our in-house learning program. based on Shimon Bar Yochai, the Arizal, the Baal Shem Tov, Rav Nachman, Rav Kook and Reb Shlomo – as well as other traditional sources.  This would include a rich adult learning program in multiple languages using both our own in-house, as well as outside, Torah scholars and teachers.

Learning programs could also be supplemented by biblical tours, local culinary experiences, meditation, music and physical exercise. Special sessions would be offered for both tourists and local participants.

Our members are concerned about the number of young people who have become disenchanted with Yiddishkeit. This is a major issue for English speakers in the US as well as Israel. We would very much like to offer programs that show these youth the beauty of their own unique brand of Judaism through music, spiritually uplifting prayer, chassidic thought, meditation and hands-on chesed projects.  Mizmor LeDavid’s spirit of dynamism, enthusiasm and sincerity are the perfect ingredients to reignite the fire of Yiddishkeit in these disaffected Jews.   A new facility will allow this vision to be realized.

Our Solution

    I.        We need our own physical space

By acquiring a fully equipped building with ample indoor and outdoor space we can accomplish the following:

  • Accommodate our own present members with more room for new members.
  • Give more people the opportunity – including those standing outside – to have a more complete, inclusive Mizmor experience.
  • Provide a safe environment for our babies, young children, teens and adults
  • Offer exhilarating prayer services in a holy, beautiful and respectable building
  • Conduct outreach Shabbatons to “light the fire” through spirited prayer and learning

  II.        We need a Beit Midrash

We currently have a morning learning program that meets daily from 7:30 before shacharit and continues learning from 9:00 – 11:30. The robust chavura covers teachings from the Chumash, Gamara, Zohar, the Ari, and Rav Kook.  We have recently added a beginners class on Parsha with Rashi and Chassidic sources on Mondays and Thursdays.

We are very fortunate to have a number of experienced Rabbis and teachers in our congregation. Expanded facilities will now allow us to bring these novel and effective teachers to the greater public in the form of classes and programs.

Similarly, our special learning sessions and film series will be enjoyed by a wider audience. In addition to our existing program, we will be able to expand into new programs that leverage the many talents of our members including tour guides, master chefs and bakers, personal trainers, therapists, musicians and singers.

Our goal is to bring an ‘old-new’, holistic and universal approach to the Torah and Jewish observance within an halachic framework. This includes demonstrable acts of kindness and encouragement of each individual’s spiritual journey.

  III.  We need event facilities

Until now, Mizmor L’David has not have a proper place to celebrate their smachot. The new premises will have a kitchen and a hall, which will allow the preparation and storage of food for hosting events, including our signature weekly potluck kiddush that distinguishes our congregation.

The hall can also provide a forum for our many musicians to give concerts, as well as to host lectures, shiurim, films and other cultural activities by which we can generate revenues to cover much of the anticipated increase in building maintenance expenses.

Conclusion

The municipality of Jerusalem officially announced that they will soon open bids for a new Beit Knesset two blocks from the location where we are currently renting space. This is an ideal setting for Mizmor’s Kehilla, situated within walking distance for existing members and sheltered by high walls between a children’s playground, a gan, and the Ruti Bar’am ‘little tayelet.”

We trust that the above report, together with the artist’s rendering of the building, will inspire you to share and enthusiastically support our vision for the next generation of Mizmor LeDavid Synagogue.

Addendum I – Financial Requirements

Financial Goals

The Municipality of Jerusalem has officially confirmed that they will build a beit knesset on the Yisrael Eldad site in Arnona. The site is about two blocks from our current location and a perfect match with Mizmor L’David’s needs .  In order to make a bid for the new building, we need to have NIS 600,000 initially. If our bid is accepted, we need to raise an additional NIS 2,000,000 over 5 years, for a total of NIS 2,600,000.  Our target is NIS 3,000,000 to allow for expected additional expenses.

These monies will come from internal contributions from members, donations from external sources within and outside of Israel, and fundraising events conducted over the
5-year period.

In addition to the cost of a new building, we anticipate a 20% increase in maintenance expenses.  We believe that we can afford this increase from our current surplus of
NIS 100,000, together with a gradual increase of membership and new fundraising and outreach programs, all of which will be stimulated by a new facility. We project increasing membership by 10% per year, which will generate 50 new members over 7 years, the time estimated to build the building and complete paying for it.

Phase 1:  3-Month Plan for NIS 600,000

We need to generate NIS 600,000 within the next 3 months when the official bidding will occur, pending an absence of (or unsuccessful) objections from neighbors.

The initial plan is an internal matching program whereby we have 5 “platinum” members or individuals who pledge NIS 63,000 ($18,000) for a total of NIS 315,000.  These pledges are based on the remainder of the entire congregation matching NIS 315,000, which will generate NIS 630,000.

How much will this cost current members?:  For the Kehillah to match the NIS 300,000, each of our 70 members or family units would need to make an initial, one time contribution averaging NIS 4,285 (4,285 x 70 = 300,000). Some will give more, some less, and some none.  If most give in the range of NIS 2,000 to 10,000 (or more), this goal can easily be met.

Phase 2:  5-Year Plan for NIS 2,000,000

NOTE: The following plan is a conservative projection based entirely on internal and external donations that does not take into account any additional fundraising events conducted by Mizmor.  The likely success in fundraising efforts that will increase over the
5-year period when we have a building can substantially reduce the projected costs to members.

We are also negotiating with a U.S. synagogue that plans to close to obtain a substantial amount of money from the sale of their building as well as several Sefer Torahs.

External Matching Funds of NIS 1,000,000

The NIS 2,000,000 will be realized by seeking, over 5 years, NIS 1,000,000 ($285,000) matching funds donated from outside sources within Israel and abroad. As with other development projects, we anticipate finding several large benefactors who value our unique vision and are interested in supporting religious institutions in Israel.

In addition, we attempted a grassroots pilot project of soliciting $1000 (NIS 3500) donations from 6 Americans (family members, friends, acquaintances)  and obtained a 50% success rate for the full amount, with 100% rate of all giving something. This resulted in a total donation of nearly $4000.  The clear feasibility of this strategy indicates that if 10 Mizmor members can obtain 10 people who contribute $1000, this will generate $100,000.  If 25 members can obtain 3 contributions of $1000, this would generate an additional $75,000, for a total of $175,000 (NIS 612,500).  This represents close to ⅔ of the goal for external funding over 5 years.

Internal Donations of NIS 1,000,000

For the Kehillah to match the 5-year goal of NIS 1,000,000, the average yearly contribution will be NIS 2,860, again with people giving varying amounts.  If most make yearly contributions in the range  of NIS 1000 to NIS 5000 (or more), this goal can be met.

What will my total cost be for a new Beit Knesset?: The average total donation per member or family over a 5 year period will be NIS 18,585 (@$5,310).

Please note that we anticipate obtaining tax deductible status so that this amount will be literally reduced by a third, to NIS 12,400 ($3,542).  Also, consider the certainty that fundraising events will lower this figure even more.

Building a Beit Knesset at this price for our spirited, dynamic and growing Kehilla is a fantastic deal. We invite you to become part of the foundation of

What will my total cost be for a new Beit Knesset?: The average total donation per member or family over a 5 year period will be NIS 18,585 (@$5,310).    

Please note that we anticipate obtaining tax deductible status so that this amount will be literally reduced by a third, to NIS 12,400 ($3,542).  Also, consider the certainty that fundraising events will lower this figure even more.

Dr. Reuven Schwartz and Drew Tick

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Location

Mizmor LeDavid is located in the Scouts (Tzofim) building, Nachum Shadmi 2, corner of Efrata and Giladi, in Old Talpiot/ Arnona.


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