United Synagogue Youth

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United Synagogue Youth (USY) is the youth movement of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ).[1] USY operates in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Uganda. The goal of the movement is to bring Jewish teenagers closer to Judaism and Israel through learning and social interaction. The organization was founded in 1951, under the auspices of the Youth Commission of what was then the United Synagogue of America.[2]

United Synagogue Youth
Abbreviation USY
Formation 1951[2]
Type Youth Organization
Purpose Religious
Headquarters New York, NY 10017
Location
  • 820 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Region served
North America[3]
Membership
15,000[3]
Director
Rabbi David Levy
President
Hailee Beth Grey
Main organ
International Executive Board, International General Board, International Youth Commission
Parent organization
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)
Affiliations Conservative Judaism
Website http://www.usy.org/

Structure[edit]

USY has three main levels of entry into the organization, the chapter level, the regional level, and the international level. The large HaNegev and METNY regions are also split into sub-regions and divisions, respectively.

Chapter[edit]

The chapter is the most basic organizational level of USY. The chapter primarily provides social programming and periodically provides religious, educational, and community service-based programming. Social programming ranges from lounges and movie nights to pool parties and paintballing. Religious, educational, and community service-based programming includes mock-seders, Israel education, and volunteering at a local soup kitchen. All programming is planned by the Chapter Board with the assistance of a professional advisor. Typically, a given chapter's name is an acronym of the city or synagogue in which the chapter is based followed by the letters "USY". Chapters are associated with a USCJ-affiliated synagogue.

Regional[edit]

At the regional level, chapters come together for regional events, such as weekend-long kinnusim and conventions, and week-long encampments. Regions comprise of chapters in the same geographical area. There are 17 USY regions each with a Regional Executive Board consisting of a President, and Membership/Kadima, Communications, Social Action/Tikun Olam, and Isareli Affairs Vice President. Certain regions have additional positions, such as an Executive Vice President, or grade representatives.

Sub-Regional/Divisional[edit]

Larger USY regions are occasionally split into sub-regions or divisions. The sub-regions and divisions act much like regions, holding their own conventions and elections. Currently, there are two regions, HaNegev and METNY, with sub-regions or divisions. HaNegev's sub-regions are each led by a three-person executive board, and METNY's divisions are each lead by a six-person executive board. HaNegev's three sub-regions are Arvot (South Florida), Mercaz (North and Central Florida), and Ein Gedi (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina). METNY's three divisions are Emek (Hudson Valley), Sababa (Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn), and Ruach (Long Island).

International[edit]

On the International level, USYers, as members are affectionately referred to, from all over North America come together for weekend-long kinnusim, International Convention, and summer programs. The International Board is composed of the 6-person Executive board and their committees, the International General Board. These boards are elected at International Convention in December and the members serve for 1 calendar year, unlike chapter and regional boards which are elected in mid to late Spring and serve for the duration of an academic year.

Summer programs[edit]

USY runs summer programs across North America and in Europe with all European trips going to Israel.

North America[edit]

USY on Wheels is a six-week bus tour throughout the continental United States, Canada, and Alaska. Participants have the opportunity to spend the summer touring America's greatest landmarks and some obscure locations with the goal of giving teens the opportunity to understand what it means to be Jewish no matter where you go. Participants keep Kosher and celebrate Shabbat and other Jewish holidays throughout the summer. Option range from a classic summer experience, a community service trip, a trip to college campuses, a trip to Cuba, and a shortened trip on the east coast for those entering 8th Grade. The METNY region has implemented the Wheels on the Bus program, which allows USYers interested in wheels to go on a mock bus tour to see what the experience would be like. Some nights they stay in hotels, while other times they have "home-stays" where they sleep in groups at local Conservative Jews' homes.

Israel and Europe[edit]

USY's trips to Israel, USY Israel Pilgrimage, consist of an optional week in Italy, Poland, or Eastern Europe followed by a month in Israel. The month in Israel has one of three different focuses: tourism, social action, and IDF simulation in Gadna.

Masorti Movement[edit]

USY nominates and sends some select USYers to different countries including Israel, and the UK, to learn more about the Conservative/Masorti movement in other countries.

USY International Convention[edit]

International Convention (IC) is USY's largest gathering that is held annually during the winter school vacation season for five consecutive days. The Convention includes regional delegations totaling approximately 800 teenagers ages 14 –18, plus an additional 150 staff members. The location changes from year to year, covering several USY regions over a period of a few years.

The 2015 International Convention will be held in Baltimore, Maryland (Seaboard Region) on December 27–31, 2015. During the week of the Convention, USYer's will participate in community service, leadership, religious, educational, cultural, and social programming.

International Convention is planned, organized, and run by two USYers. The two USYers holding the title of IC Co-chairs are ordinarily one year removed from their senior year of high school. These two individuals are selected by the International Executive Board in December along with the International General Board.

The 2015 IC co-chairs are Samara Wyant (CRUSY) and A-a-ron Albuck (@IdontgivealBUCK) (Hagesher).

Past International Conventions have been hosted in New Orleans, Boston, Philadelphia, Orlando, Chicago, Anaheim, Washington D.C., Toronto, and San Jose, among other cities.

  • It can be noted that A-a-ron Albuck (@IdontgivealBUCK) is the first junior/senior to ever be selected as IC Co-chair in USY's 65 year history.

Nativ College Leadership Program in Israel[edit]

Nativ is a post-high-school gap-year program that draws a lot of its participants from USY and who's alumni often become USY staff. Nativ's mission is to create and inspire the Conservative Jewish leaders of tomorrow. Nativ, which means “path” in Hebrew, aims to provide a unique opportunity to explore new directions on the journey to becoming a Jewish adult. From September to May, Nativ participants are immersed in Israeli society and a Conservative Jewish lifestyle.

The program includes academic university classes, intensive Hebrew classes, Judaic and Yeshiva studies, and leadership training workshops. Nativ enables recent high school graduates to earn college credits for their studies while on the gap-year program.

High school programs[edit]

USY High is an eight-week program in which high schoolers (juniors and seniors) live at the Israel Goldstein Youth Village in Jerusalem, studying and exploring Israel. In the campus classroom, participants are introduced chronologically to each historical period. Campus class time is interspersed with time experiencing the "classroom without walls" - the Land of Israel. Participants learn in an ancient cave, a mountain fortress, an army bunker, riding on a camel, or at the beach. It is the sister program of Tichon Ramah Yerushalaim (TRY), which is done by Ramah. TRY is seventeen weeks long and is for sophomores and juniors.[4]

International Clubs[edit]

USY offers three clubs for USY members, the Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society, HeChalutzim, and the 613 Mitzvah Corps.

Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society[edit]

The Heschel Honor Society is a club for USY members of secular and religious academic excellence. The club is named after Abraham Joshua Heschel. Members meet during regional conventions to discuss topics that Heschel wrote about. The Heschel Honor society holds an annual convention in March. The 2012 Heschel Kinnus will be held in Washington DC.

HeChalutzim[edit]

HeChalutzim (Hebrew for "The pioneers") is a club for USY members interested in Israel affairs and Religious Zionism. Members of HeChalutzim convene for regional weekends and special programs. In addition, a delegate from each region is sent to Israel with the Hechalutzim Israel Seminar.

613 Mitzvah Corps[edit]

The 613 Mitzvah Corps is the Social Action and Tikun Olam club within USY. The goal of the club is to provide members with the tools to take action.

Regions[edit]

Name of region Details of name Areas covered President
CHUSY Chicago USY Northern Illinois, Milwaukee, and Madison Eli Krule
CRUSY Central Region USY Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia Samara Wyant
ECRUSY Eastern Canadian Region USY Southern Ontario, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Richmond Hill, and Ottawa Shira Eisen
EMTZA USY Hebrew: אמצע, "Middle" Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Western Wisconsin, and Manitoba Jamie Halper
EPA USY Eastern Pennsylvania USY Eastern and Northern Pennsylvania from Harrisburg to Scranton Unagh Frank
Far West USY Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Utah Sophie Sigel
Hagalil USY Hebrew: הגליל, "The Galilee" Northern and Central New Jersey Eric Steinbach
Hagesher USY Hebrew: הגשר, "The bridge" Philadelphia, Main Line, Bryn Mawr, Bucks County and Southern New Jersey Ethan Einhorn
Hanefesh USY Hebrew: הנפש, "The soul" Connecticut and Western Massachusetts Noa Shapiro-Franklin
HaNegev USY (Sub-Regions: Arvot, Mercaz, Ein Gedi) Hebrew: הנגב, "The Negev" Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Southern North Carolina, South Carolina, Barbados, and Puerto Rico. Hailee Grey
METNY USY (Divisions: Emek, Sababa, Ruach) Metropolitan New York USY Greater New York City and Long Island Yair Koas
NERUSY New England Region USY Eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine Ryan Trager
New Frontier USY Northern California, and Reno Ammi Racket
Pinwheel USY Pacific Northwest USY Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, and Alaska Lindsey Carmen
Seaboard USY Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Northeastern North Carolina Wittney Skigen
SWUSY Southwest USY Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mexico Daniel Seelig
Tzafon USY Hebrew: צפון, "North" Upstate New York, Western Massachusetts, and Southwestern Vermont Ari Jaffe

Leadership[edit]

International Executive Board[edit]

On December 24, 2014, International USY Voting Delegates at the 64th USY International Convention voted the following 6 members of the 2015 International Executive Board into office:[5]

  • President - Hailee Grey (Hanegev)
  • Israel Affairs Vice President - Eli Collin Krule (CHUSY)
  • Religion/Education Vice President - Micah Cowan (Seaboard)
  • Social Action/Tikun Olam Vice President - Jamie Halper (EMTZA)
  • Membership/Kadima Vice President - Marisa Lefton (Hanegev)
  • Communications Vice President - Eduardo Madero (SWUSY)

International General Board[edit]

The International General Board is a group of committee members selected and appointed by the International Executive Board.[6] The 2015 IGB is as follows:

International Convention Co-Chairs

  • A-a-ron Albuck - Hagesher
  • Samara Wyant - CRUSY

Israel Affairs

  • Nathan Bishop - SWUSY
  • Daniela Rojzman - HaNegev
  • Noa Rose - EMTZA
  • Liat Wasserman - CHUSY

Religion/Education

  • Evan Chansky - NERUSY
  • Cara Kupferman - METNY
  • Evan Shaw - CRUSY
  • Arielle Yacker - Hagesher

Social Action/Tikun Olam

  • Jessie Goldberg - EMTZA
  • Jenny Gurev - New Frontier
  • Sophie Sigel - Far West
  • Hannah Smith - Seaboard
  • Val Weisler - METNY

Membership/Kadima

  • Sami Ronik - HaNegev
  • Shelly Tsirulik - Hagalil
  • Josh Zucker - CHUSY

Communications

  • Eric Bornstein - NERUSY
  • Ben (BShappy Shapz) Shapiro - Far West
  • Ilana Weinstein - EMTZA

Summer Program Outreach Chairs

Famous USY Alumni[edit]

USY has produced over 250,000 alumni, many of which have gone on to be rabbis, synagogue presidents, and Jewish educators.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]