United Synagogue Youth
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The USY logo
|Headquarters||New York, NY 10017|
Director of Teen Travel and Programs
Continental Engagement Supervisors
|Maury Jacobs and Julie Marder|
|International Executive Board, International General Board, International Youth Commission,|
|United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)|
The organization was founded in 1951, under the auspices of the Youth Commission of what was then the United Synagogue of America.
- 1 History
- 2 Structure
- 3 Programs
- 4 Interest Clubs
- 5 List of Regions
- 6 Leadership
- 7 Famous Alumni
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The First USY Chapter
Under the leadership of both Rabbi David Aronson and Rabbi Kassel Abelson, the first USY chapter was founded at Beth El Synagogue in Minneapolis in 1948 to provide for the social and spiritual needs of its teens. Soon, other synagogues began following suit.
Founding the National Organization
“The Youth Commission unanimously agrees that the teenage groups come under the general supervision of the Youth Commission. Teenage groups should include boys and girls of high school level, 13 to 17 years inclusive…The Youth Commission shall concern itself with non-scholastic group work for teenagers.”
With these words, on March 19, 1951 USY was formed nationally at its first convention, bringing together delegates from synagogues and other youth groups across the country, along with lay and professional youth workers of USCJ.
All told, more than 500 people, representing 65 communities from 14 states and Canada attended the first official meeting of USY.
At that convening, under the leadership of the newly elected national president, Paul Freedman, the two basic documents of the organization, Aims and Objectives and the USY Constitution, were adopted.
USY’s Tzedakah Program
In 1956, the Two-o-Nine tzedakah (charity) project began (later revamped to become Tikun Olam (Repairing the World), the social action/charity project that all contemporary USYers recognize).
Summer Travel for Teens
That same summer, twelve USYers went on the first organization sponsored trip to Israel. Known as the USY Israel Summer Pilgrimage, it became the first of the USY summer programs.
Two years later, Pilgrimage enrollment had already increased to 100 teens. In 1961, USY further expanded its summer programs when two staff members took four USYers on their “Schlep and Pray Across the USA,” the first USY on Wheels trip.
In 1969, the Youth Commission created Kadima, the youth group for middle school and junior high students.
Today USY has 350 local chapters in 16 regions across North America.
USY has three main levels of entry into the organization, the chapter level, the regional level, and the international level. The HaNegev and METNY regions are also split into sub-regions and divisions, respectively.
Chapters, typically run out of local USCJ congregations, provide programming on the local level. This includes social, religious, educational, and community service-based programming. Social programming ranges from lounge and movie nights to pool parties and paintballing. Religious, educational, and community service-based programming include mock-seders, Israel education, and volunteering.
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 synagogue or city in which the chapter is based followed by the letters "USY". For example, the "Congregation Beth Judea in Long Grove is shortened to BJUSY". Chapters are associated with a USCJ-affiliated synagogue.
Regions consist of chapters in the same geographical area. Regions gather for bi-monthly, quarterly, and annual regional events, such as weekend-long kinnusim (conventions) and week-long encampments. There are 16 USY regions.
Larger USY regions are occasionally split into sub-regions or divisions. The sub-regions and divisions act much like regions, overseeing their respective chapters, and 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 led by a six-person executive board. HaNegev's three sub-regions are Arvot (South Florida), Mercaz (North and Central Florida), and Ein Gedi (Florida Panhandle, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina). METNY's three (previously four) divisions are Emek (Hudson Valley), Sababa (Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn), and Ruach (Long Island).
On the International level, USY holds an International Convention, the largest gathering of Conservative Jewish teens in North America, and runs summer trips across the United States, Canada, Israel, and Europe.
The International Board is composed of the 6-person Executive board and their committees. These boards are elected at the International Convention, which takes place every December, and the members serve for 1 calendar year, unlike chapter and regional boards which are elected in mid to late spring and serve through an academic year.
International USY provides the following programming:
USY on Wheels is a six-week bus tour throughout the continental United States, Canada, and Alaska. Participants spend the summer visiting America's greatest landmarks, including the Grand Canyon and Pier 39, as well as the country's more obscure destinations including the Corn Palace and Wall Drug. The program's goal is giving teens the opportunity to understand what it means to live Jewishly no matter where you go. Participants stay in both hotels and home hospitality. Participants keep Kosher and pause to celebrate Shabbat throughout the summer. In addition to the "Classic" Wheels trip, other travel options include:
- Wheels East, a four-week east coast trip exclusively for 7th and 8th grades
- Wheels West, a four-week west coast trip exclusively for 7th and 8th graders
- Pacific Northwest, a three-week trip that includes two-weeks on the West Coast and a one-week Alaskan cruise
USY's trips to Israel, USY Israel Pilgrimage, consist of an optional week in Poland or Eastern Europe followed by a month in Israel, learning about Jewish communities and the Shoah (Holocaust). Pilgrimage trips visit every major city and region, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Tiberias, Beersheba, and Eilat. In addition to city life, the program incorporates many hiking opportunities and outdoor experiences, in areas including the Golan Heights, the Jordan River, the Galilee the Mediterranean Sea, Masada, the Dead Sea, the Negev, the Red Sea, and archaeological digs of ancient Jewish civilization, all led by professional tour guides. Another option for Israel Pilgrimage is L'Takayn Olam, a program that blends social action and volunteering with sightseeing.
USY also partners with the DREAM Project for DREAM USY, a two-week social action trip in the Dominican Republic.
USY’s International Convention, commonly referred to as IC, is the largest gathering of Conservative Jewish teens.
Held annually the last full week in December, the convention moves to a different North American city each year and convenes hundreds of Jewish teens for five days of celebration, friendship, Jewish learning, and giving back to the local community.
The location changes from year to year, covering several USY regions over a period of a few years.
The 2016 International Convention was held in Dallas, Texas (SWUSY Region) on December 25–29, 2016. During the week of the Convention, USYers participated in community service, leadership, religious, educational, cultural, and social programming. The 2017 International Convention was held in Chicago, Illinois.
Past International Conventions please note that prior to 1963, International Convention was a faction of EMTZA Region USY. It was not until the creation of other monetary regions in 1963 that International Convention took the form it holds today. For purposes of this table, International Convention's location and chairpeople will start from 1963 although the first convention was held in 1950.
|Year||Site of Convention||Chairpeople|
|1963||Chicago||Sharon Perlman and Ed Schechter|
|1964||Chicago||Lewis Ginsberg and Mindy Abramowitz|
|1965||Washington, D.C.||Mark Braverman & Judy Lasker|
|1966||St. Louis||Mark Braverman & Barbra Cutler|
|1967||New York City||Barbra Cutler & Jonathan Fenster|
|1968||Chicago||Scott Jacobson & Arthur Magin|
|1969||Buffalo||Steve Rockoff & Billy Tilles|
|1970||Atlanta||Myron Edelman & Steve Salinger|
|1971||Washington, D.C.||Stuart Blumenthal & Billy Klein|
|1972||Boston||Michael Klayman & Amy Ripps|
|1973||Los Angeles||Lisa Isaacman & Arnie Sherrin|
|1974||Washington, D.C.||Joel Ticatch & Beth Levenson|
|1975||Chicago||Bob Bagoff & Marcia Tatz|
|1976||Orlando||Debbie Katz & Cheryl Kelman|
|1977||Toronto||Heidi Aronin & David Lowenstein|
|1978||Cherry Hill||Judy Kunoff & Marc Shandler|
|1979||Rye||Judy Kunuff & Eric Sherby|
|1980||Los Angeles||Norman Katzoff & Sharyn Salamankolopololis|
|1981||Arlington||Lori Schrecter & Ira Snyder|
|1982||Chicago||Sammy Karliner & Marty Kunoff|
|1983||Cherry Hill||Bennett Kaplan & Sheri Wexler|
|1984||Tampa||Jonathan Draluck & Debbie Hite|
|1985||Toronto||Adina Ben-Seez & Ivan Wolnecj|
|1986||San Jose||Hope Tanhoff & Roger Woodman|
|1987||Baltimore||Bobbi Berenbaum & Adina Cohen|
|1988||Chicago||Josh Kulp & Jeff Meyers|
|1989||Philadelphia||Brian Cohen & Billy Padnos|
|1990||Tampa||Kenny Baer & Jeremy Wlederhorn|
|1991||Boston||Joshua Gruenberg & Amy Nedow|
|1992||Baltimore||David Linder & Beth Tritter|
|1993||Irvine||Debbie Cohen & Josh Einhorn|
|1994||East Brunswick||Jeff Fox & Anne Levenson|
|1995||Toronto||Jeremy Gordon & Paul Tritter|
|1996||Orlando||Jennifer Baerman & Yehuda Gruenberg|
|1997||Philadelphia||Ari Greenfield & Blayne Ross|
|1998||Chicago||Bobby Hanson & Ilana Siegel|
|1999||San Jose||Dani Greenspan & Seth Wax|
|2000||Boston||Gabi Gershowitz & Matt Rossoff|
|2001||Washington, D.C.||Miriam Osadchey & Elana Kieffer|
|2002||Orlando||Sarah Kay & Hillel Gruenberg|
|2003||Toronto||Ariella Gutin & Gabe Berkowitz|
|2004||Chicago||Shayna Hirsch & Jeremy Rietman|
|2005||Philadelphia||Tova Fishman & Zach Berkowitz|
|2006||Boston||Ross Broms & Josh Goldberg|
|2007||Anaheim||Jordan Soffer & Davey French|
|2008||Washington, D.C.||Jake Stoehr & Ezra Moses|
|2009||Chicago||David Chaim Wallach & Chelsea Wagner|
|2010||Orlando||Sarah Tudzin & Max Beede|
|2011||Philadelphia||Ellie Carr & Shira Goldstein|
|2012||Boston||Adam Rosen & Danielle Levine|
|2013||New Orleans||Jake Wassermann & Gabby Roth|
|2014||Atlanta||Ori Brian & Shayna Plotnik|
|2015||Baltimore||Aaron Albuck & Samara Wyant|
|2016||Dallas||Noa Rose & Harrison Steier|
|2017||Chicago||Jeffrey Gold & Samantha Ronik|
|2018||Orlando||Jacob Ezra Deane & Hannah Wandersman|
USY offers three interest clubs for USY members the Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society, Chalutzim, and the 613 Mitzvah Corps.
Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society
The Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society is a club for USY members of secular and religious academic excellence. The club is named after prominent theologian and activist Abraham Joshua Heschel. Members meet during regional conventions to discuss topics that Heschel wrote about. The Heschel Honor society holds an annual three-day, text-focused convention every March.
The Heschel Honor Society recognizes USYers committed to the study of Torah, prayer, and performance of G’milut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness).
Chalutzim is our Israel advocacy club, helping you build and develop your relationship with the Jewish homeland through programming, workshops, and fun activities.
In Hebrew, Chalutzim means “pioneers,” referring to the original settlers in modern-day Israel.
613 Mitzvah Corps
613 Mitzvah Corps (commonly referred to as 613) is USY’s Social Action/Tikun Olam (Repairing the World) or SA/TO club.
The club was designed for USYers who wish to be more involved in social action and learn more about social activism within the context of Judaism.
There is an annual fee of $6.13 to be a member of 613 Mitzvah Corps. You can also donate a generous $61.30 to become a lifetime member.
List of Regions
|Name of region||Details of name||Areas covered||President|
|CHUSY||Chicago USY||Northern Illinois, Milwaukee, and Madison||Madison Brim|
|CRUSY||Central Region USY||Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia||Noa Marcus|
|ECRUSY||Eastern Canadian Region USY||Toronto, The GTA, Hamilton, London, Montreal and Ottawa||Jenna Bienstock|
|EMTZA USY||Hebrew: אמצע, "Middle"||Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Western Wisconsin, and Manitoba||Emily Kutler|
|Far West USY||Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Utah||Noa Kligfeld|
|Hagalil USY||Hebrew: הגליל, "The Galilee"||Northern and Central New Jersey and Staten Island||Shawn Konichowsky|
|Hanefesh USY||Hebrew: הנפש, "The soul"||Connecticut and Western Massachusetts||Millie Cattan|
|HaNegev USY (Sub-Regions: Arvot, Mercaz, Ein Gedi)||Hebrew: הנגב, "The Negev"||Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina, Barbados, and Puerto Rico.||Jacob Slavkin (Sub-Regional Presidents: Ilana Richman, Sadie Waldbaum, Elan Levine)|
|METNY USY (Divisions: Emek, Ruach, Sababa)||Metropolitan New York USY||Greater New York City and Long Island||Omer Neutra (Divisional Presidents: Liran Maayani, Ariel Wajnrajch, Danielle Amster)|
|Mizrach USY||Hebrew: מזרח, "East" (formerly known as EPA/Hagesher USY)||Philadelphia, Main Line, Bryn Mawr, Bucks County and Southern New Jersey Eastern and Northern Pennsylvania from Harrisburg to Scranton||Sophia Sloves|
|NERUSY||New England Region USY||Eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine||Ilan Rotberg|
|New Frontier USY||Northern California, and Reno||Eli Ganz|
|Pinwheel USY||Pacific Northwest USY||Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, and Alaska||Abby Glass|
|Seaboard USY||Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina||Julia Feldman|
|SWUSY||Southwest USY||Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana||Morgan Gonzales|
|Tzafon USY||Hebrew: צפון, "North"||Upstate New York, and Southwestern Vermont||Ariella Fessler|
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Regional Executive Board
Each region has a Regional Executive Board (REB), which serves as the region's cabinet, tending to its needs across the year. An REB typically consists of a President, and five Vice Presidents: Israel Affairs VP (IA), Religion/Education VP (Rel/Ed), Social Action/Tikun Olam VP (SA/TO), Membership/Kadima VP (Mem/Kad), and Communications VP (Comm). Some regions incorporate an Executive Vice President and/or Parliamentarian position. In regions that have Divisions or Sub-Regions, Divisional or Sub-Regional Presidents are automatically granted REB member status.
International Executive Board
On December 26, 2017, International USY Voting Delegates at the 67th USY International Convention voted the following 6 members onto the 2018 International Executive Board (IEB) into office:
- President - Zachary Zabib (METNY)
- Israel Affairs Vice President - Aaron Schwartz (METNY)
- Religion/Education Vice President - Sawyer Goldsmith (CHUSY)
- Social Action/Tikun Olam Vice President - Emily Rosenberg (METNY)
- Membership/Kadima Vice President - Ilan Cohen (Seaboard)
- Communications Vice President - Bayle Goldman (SWUSY)
International General Board
The International General Board (IGB) is a group of committee members selected and appointed by the International Executive Board in the first month of the new year. To be considered for a position on the International General Board, an applicant must agree to keep standards and fill out an application. The 2018 IGB is:
International Convention Co-Chairs:
- Jacob Deane (METNY)
- Hannah Wandersman (Seaboard)
- Sophia Sloves (Mizrach)
NOAM Olami Partnership Coordinators:
- Nina Robins (Hagalil)
- Ilan Rotberg (NERUSY)
Summer Experience Outreach Chairs:
- Shawn Konichowsky (Hagalil)
- Ilana Richman (HaNegev)
- Tali Schor (METNY)
Israel Affairs Committee:
- Samantha Brody (CHUSY)
- Samuel Burg (NERUSY)
- Raz Yona (METNY)
- Benjamin Kane (NERUSY)
- Noa Kligfeld (Far West)
- Shoshana Scheinberg (Hagalil)
- Joshua Brunnlehrman (METNY)
Social Action/Tikun Olam Committee:
- Hailey Figur (HaNegev)
- Zachary Greenwald (Emtza)
- Anat Pissetzky (CHUSY)
- Izzy Levy (Pinwheel)
- Mira Katz (Pinwheel)
- Austin Kaufman (Far West)
- Emily Kutler (Emtza)
Alumni Outreach Co-Chairs:
- Emma Grungold (HaNegev)
- Demi Fine (Emtza)
- Leah Miller (Hagalil)
- Sam Adler (Far West)
- Maddie Brim (CHUSY)
- Julia Feldman (Seaboard)
- Zack Wolfman (METNY)
- Madelyn Pollack (Seaboard)
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USY has produced over 250,000 alumni, many of which have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, rabbis, synagogue presidents, and Jewish educators.
- Norton Schwartz - retired general who served as the 19th Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
- Michael Oren - member of Knesset, and former Israeli ambassador to the United States
- Bruce Vilanch - comedy writer, songwriter, actor, and six-time Emmy Award-winner
- Bryan Greenberg - television and movie actor, and musician
- Robert Freedman - four-time Tony Award-winning screenwriter and dramatist
- Alexander Gould - movie actor and voice artist
- Danny Siegel - best-selling author, lecturer, poet, Jewish educator, social activist, and founder of the Ziv Tzedakah Fund
- Andy Fickman - film, television, and theatre director
- Michael Levin - fallen lone soldier and Israeli national hero
- Yossi Katz - author and former Israeli National Boxing Champion
- Jessica Abo - award-winning television journalist and news anchor, actress, and philanthropist
- Kadima - the pre-high-school program of USY
- Camp Ramah - a network of Conservative Jewish summer camps across North America and Israel
- Nativ - the post-high-school gap year program operated by USCJ
- United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism - the organization of Conservative Jewish synagogues in North America
- Koach - a now-defunct, college campus organization affiliated with Conservative Judaism
- Conservative Judaism - a leading modern denomination of Judaism
- Judaism - the religion of the Jewish people
- "Far West USY". Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
- J Weekly (1)
- United Synagogue Youth
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- "2017-2018 Regional Executive Board". Hanefesh USY. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
- USY Leadership
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- http://www.nerusy.org/2018/02/3-nerusyers-named-to-international-board/. Missing or empty
- http://www.nerusy.org/2018/02/3-nerusyers-named-to-international-board/. Missing or empty
- CJ Voices
- Jewish Report
- Doing Jewish in Toronto
- J Weekly (2)
- Heeb Magazine
- The Times of Israel
- The Covenant Foundation
- Crescent City Jewish News
- Philadelphia Jewish Voice
- Renana Books
- Jewish Week