United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

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For the British Orthodox synagogue association, see United Synagogue

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) is the primary organization of synagogues practicing Conservative Judaism in North America. It closely works with the Rabbinical Assembly, the international body of Conservative rabbis, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.[1]

History[edit]

The United Synagogue was founded in 1913 by Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schechter on the principle that through cooperation they could both develop and perpetuate Conservative Judaism.[2]

Role and description[edit]

The USCJ has over 675 congregations as of 2009 (down from 850 in 1985).[citation needed] The USCJ works in the fields of Jewish education, youth activities, congregational standards and action and Israel affairs, and published the magazine United Synagogue Review.[citation needed]

Historically, the Jewish Theological Seminary has taken the leadership role in the Conservative movement (unlike the Reform movement, whose congregational organization has dominated its rabbinical school).[citation needed]

The diminished number of affiliated congregations noted above raised serious concern in the first decade of the century as new congregational forms, often populated by people who were educated in the Conservative movement, have become popular.[citation needed] The Conservative movement is perceived to have lost its uniqueness as its once-path-finding ideology of tradition and change has spread to and become a bedrock assumption of the Reform, Reconstructionist and "Renewal" groups, where services use Hebrew and traditional prayers, (often in updated versions) where study of traditional texts is considered important, where halacha (Jewish law) is treated with both respect and flexibility, and where egalitarian gender practices prevail.[citation needed]

The diminished population of USCJ and its congregations is seen by many[according to whom?] as a symptom of a weak organizational culture in the USCJ itself.[citation needed] A strategic plan undertaken in the 1990s was squelched when the report challenged many of the USCJ's practices.[citation needed] In 2010, dissension reached the point at which a coalition known as Hayom ("Today") was formed and threatened to break away from USCJ if significant changes were not undertaken.[citation needed] The creation of this coalition was in part a response to a restructuring announced by the new executive director, Rabbi Steven Wernick, without input from the field.[citation needed] A new strategic planning committee was formed, co-opting the Hayom group,[citation needed] and in March 2011 a draft of a new plan was announced[citation needed] and posted on the USCJ website.

Projects[edit]

The United Synagogue sponsors the following projects: United Synagogue Youth (USY), a youth group with chapters all over the United States and Canada.[citation needed]

The Solomon Schechter Day School Association, which provides leadership and services to approximately 50 Jewish day schools affiliated with the Conservative movement.[citation needed]

KOACH (defunct in 2013), the organization for Conservative Judaism on college campuses.[citation needed]

Project Reconnect. Project Reconnect seeks to reconnect alumni of USY, Atid, Koach, Nativ, the Conservative Yeshiva, Camp Ramah, the Solomon Schechter schools, the Leadership Training Fellowship, and other Conservative movement programs.[citation needed]

Project Reconnect's mission is to reinvolve, reinvigorate, and reconnect the very many Jewish adults who were touched by the Conservative movement's programs for teenagers, college students and young adults.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]