United Synagogue Youth
United Synagogue Youth (USY) is the youth movement of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). 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.
|Headquarters||New York, NY 10017|
|Region served||North America|
|Director||Rabbi Dave Levy|
|Main organ||International Executive Board, International General Board, International Youth Commission|
|Parent organization||United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)|
- 1 Structure
- 2 Summer programs
- 3 USY International Convention
- 4 Nativ College Leadership Program in Israel
- 5 High school programs
- 6 International Clubs
- 7 Regions
- 8 Leadership
- 9 Famous USY Alumni
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
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.
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.
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, Executive VP, Membership/Kadima VP, Communications VP, Social Action/Tikun Olam VP, and Isareli Affairs VP. Sometimes there is also a 9th-Grade Representative.
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).
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.
USY runs summer programs across North America and in Europe with all European trips going to Israel.
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
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.
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
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 2014 International Convention is being 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
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
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.
USY offers three clubs for USY members, the Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society, HeChalutzim, and the 613 Mitzvah Corps.
Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society
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 (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
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.
|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, 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|
International Executive Board
In December 2013, International USY Voting Delegates at International Convention in New Orleans voted in the following 6 members of International Executive Board 2014:
- 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
The International General Board is a group of committee members selected and appointed by the International Executive Board.
International Convention Co-Chairs
- Ori Brian - Far West
- Shayna Plotnik - NERUSY
- Michael Anfang - Hanefesh
- Ari Berman - Far West
- Ezra Goldmeer - Tzafon
- Samara Wyant - CRUSY
- 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
- Isaac Bensignor - METNY
- Jacob Flekier - EMTZA
- Marisa Lefton - HaNegev
- Jessica Perl - CHUSY
- Aaron Albuck - Hagesher
- Harry Bittker - METNY
- Scott Landman - METNY
- Samantha Roberts - HaNegev
Famous USY Alumni
USY has produced over 250,000 alumni, many have gone on to be rabbis, synagogue presidents, and Jewish educators.
- Norton Schwartz - United States Air Force general
- Michael Oren - former Israeli ambassador to the United States
- Howie Mandel - comedian, actor, television host
- Bruce Vilanch - comedy writer, songwriter, actor, and six-time Emmy Award-winner
- Debra Winger - actress and producer
- Bryan Greenberg - actor and musician
- Robert Freedman - screenwriter and dramatist
- Alexander Gould - actor and voice artist
- Danny Siegel - best-selling author, lecturer, poet
- Joe Purdy - folk singer
- Andy Fickman - film and television director
- Michael Levin - Israeli national hero
- Kelly Gould - actress
- Yossi Katz - author and former Israeli National Boxing Champion
- Jessica Abo - award-winning television journalist, philanthropist, and actress
- Aaron Jacobs - Girl Meets World screenwriter and production assistant
- Jeff Dachis - founder of Razorfish
- Rachel Shukert - author
- USY Website
- CHUSY Website
- CRUSY Website
- ECRUSY Website
- EMTZA USY Website
- EPA USY Website
- Far West USY Website
- Hagalil USY Website
- Hagesher USY Website
- Hanefesh USY Website
- Hanegev USY Website
- METNY USY Website
- NERUSY Website
- New Frontier USY Website
- Pinwheel USY Website
- Seaboard USY Website
- SWUSY Website
- Tzafon USY Website
- Nativ College Leadership Program in Israel
- KOACH College Outreach Program
- The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism