Lavi`s Sales Manager, Shalom Ashkenazi, offers guidance for those purchasing synagogue furniture. The process is relatively complex and sometimes even frustrating. Shalom discusses the influence of personal preferences and tastes and advises how best to work towards mutual agreement
Having spent the last fifty years dealing with congregations in Israel and around the world, we would like to bring you the benefit of our experience, and show you the way the process should work.
Different people reach different conclusions, and coming together and reaching a collective decision is a far from simple matter. In order to avoid disputes and anger along the way, it needs to be decided in advance who will be authorized to make decisions of behalf of the community, and how these decisions are to be reached.
1. The least desirable solution is to leave the process to the community as a whole, and is based on a “sample bench” placed in the synagogue for everyone to see and try out. We will relate to the “sample bench” issue later, and the disadvantages of reaching decisions that are based mainly on this factor.
Whatever path is chosen, relating seriously to the purchase process requires an investment of time, study, and in-depth consideration of the issues, which is difficult to carry out in a forum consisting of all members of the community
2. Setting up a special committee – in our experience, this committee needs to be small enough (no more than 4-5 people) so that it can meet and act. On the other hand, its composition needs to give expression to the capabilities, opinions and needs of the members of the community, so that when the committee`s recommendations are brought before the community, they reflect the position of the majority of the members of the community. On occasion, the community rabbi is also involved as a member of the committee.
3. Leaving the decision to an external entity (architect, designer etc.) – is also an option, but one that also has its limitations. On the one hand, we are dealing with experienced professionals of proven ability. It is reasonable to assume that the professionals will give of their experience, including past work contacts with various furniture manufacturers. In addition, they can assist you in defining the professional details regarding the quality of the products and their durability over time. On the other hand, deep knowledge of the community and its needs is essential and even vital in reaching informed decisions. This information is first and foremost held by yourselves, and your involvement at every stage of the process is thus of vital importance. It is important for the representatives of the community to be aware of all the various alternatives and to examine them taking into account the needs of the community and its capabilities.
Whatever you decide – it is important to determine in advance the method of working and to stay with it to the successful end of the process