United Synagogue Youth

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USY Logo
United Synagogue Youth
Abbreviation USY
Formation 1951[1]
Type Youth Organization
Purpose Religious
Headquarters New York, NY 10017
Location
  • 820 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Region served North America[2]
Membership 15,000[2]
Director Rabbi Dave Levy
President Aaron Pluemer
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/

United Synagogue Youth (USY) is the youth movement of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.[3] 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.[1]

Structure[edit]

USY has three main levels of entry into the organization, the chapter level, the regional level, and the international level. In some regions, there are subregions (HaNegev) or divisions (METNY) that divide the larger regions into smaller groups.

Chapter[edit]

The chapter is the most basic organizational level of USY. Chapters are associated with a local synagogue affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Typically, a given chapter's name is an acronym/airport code of the city or synagogue of a chapter followed by the letters "USY". Within the chapter, there is a leadership board which typically consists of a President, Executive VP, Membership/Kadima VP, Communications VP, Social Action/Tikun Olam VP, and Isareli Affairs VP. Sometimes there is also a 9th-Grade Representative. In smaller chapters, there is just a President, VP, and Communications VP. Chapters also have advisors who are usually college students or young adults who act as mentors and supervisors.

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 and sometime are broken into subregions (HaNegev) or divisions (METNY). There are 17 USY regions each with a Regional Executive Board consisting of a President, Executive VP, Membership/Kadima VP, Communications VP, Social Action/Tikun Olam VP, and Isareli Affairs VP. Sometimes there is also a 9th-Grade Representative.

Sub-Regional/Divisional[edit]

Larger USY regions are occasionally split into sub-regions or divisions. The sub-regions/divisions act much like regions, holding their own conventions and elections. Currently, there are two regions with sub-regions/divisions, the HaNegev region and the METNY region. Each Sub-Region/Division is lead by a 6 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), led by Ethan Richter; Sababa (Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn), led by Rachel Coons; and Ruach (Long Island), led by Ethan Feuer.

International[edit]

On the International level, USYers 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 the United States 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 a optional week in Italy, Poland, or Eastern Europe followed by a month in Israel. The month in Israel has three different focuses, tourism, social action. One trip spends an extra week in Israel and uses that time to participate in Gadna, or IDF simulation/boot camp.

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 the largest annual gathering for Untied Synagogue Youth. USY holds an annual convention during the winter school vacation season. 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 regions of North America over a period of a few years.

The 2014 International Convention will be held in Atlanta, Georgia (HaNegev) on December 21–25, 2014. During the week of the Convention, USYers will participate in community service, leadership, religious, educational, cultural, and social programming. The 2014 IC co-chairs are Ori Brian (Far West) and Shayna Plotnik (NERUSY).

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

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, Madison Eli Krule
CRUSY Central Region USY Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana,

Kentucky, West Virginia

Samara Wyant
ECRUSY Eastern Canadian Region USY Southern Ontario; Toronto, Hamilton, London, Richmond hill, and Ottowa Shira Eisen
EMTZA USY Hebrew: אמצע, "Middle" Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri,

Nebraska, Western Wisconsin, Manitoba

Jamie Halper
EPA USY Eastern Pennsylvania USY Eastern and Northern Pennsylvania from Harrisburg to Scranton Unagh Frank
Far West USY Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada,

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 area, Main Line, Brynmawr, South 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, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, 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, Maine, New Hampshire,

Vermont, Rhode Island

Ryan Trager
New Frontier USY Northern California, and Reno, Nevada Ammi Racket
Pinwheel USY Pacific Northwest USY Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Yukon,

British Columbia, and Alberta

Lindsey Carmen
Seaboard USY Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, 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, Southwestern Vermont Ari Jaffe

International Executive Board[edit]

In December 2013, International USY Voting Delegates at International Convention in New Orleans voted in the following 6 members of International Executive Board 2014:[5]

  • President - Aaron Pluemer (New Frontier)
  • Israel Affairs Vice President - Ariel Weinstein (EMTZA)
  • Religion/Education Vice President - Gila Fridkis (Seaboard)
  • Social Action/Tikun Olam Vice President - Joseph Goldberg (EMTZA)
  • Membership/Kadima Vice President - Abraham Bayer (Hanefesh)
  • Communications Vice President - Brandon Ginsberg (Hanegev)

International General Board[edit]

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

International Convention Co-Chairs

  • Ori Brian - Far West
  • Shayna Plotnik - NERUSY

Israel Affairs

  • Michael Anfang - Hanefesh
  • Ari Berman - Far West
  • Ezra Goldmeer - Tzafon
  • Samara Wyant - CRUSY

Religion/Education

  • Oren Bazer - NERUSY
  • Micah Cowan - Seaboard
  • Cara Kupferman - METNY
  • Josh Pilchik - Hagesher

Social Action/Tikun Olam

  • Hailee Grey - HaNegev
  • Jamie Halper - EMTZA
  • Rebecca Perl - CHUSY
  • Valerie Weisler - METNY

Membership/Kadima

  • Isaac Bensignor - METNY
  • Jacob Flekier - EMTZA
  • Marisa Lefton - HaNegev
  • Jessica Perl - CHUSY

Communications

  • Aaron Albuck - Hagesher
  • Harry Bittker - METNY
  • Scott Landman - METNY
  • Samantha Roberts - HaNegev

Famous USY Alumni[edit]

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]