United Synagogue Youth

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United Synagogue Youth
USY's new logo.jpg
The USY logo
TypeYouth Organization
HeadquartersNew York, NY 10017
  • 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271
Region served
North America[2]
Senior Director of Teen Engagement
Dana K. Prottas
Continental Engagement Supervisors
Maury Jacobs and Julie Marder
Noa Kligfeld
Main organ
International Executive Board, International General Board, International Youth Commission
Parent organization
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)
AffiliationsConservative Judaism

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

The organization was founded in 1951, under the auspices of the Youth Commission of what was then the United Synagogue of America.[1]

USY operates in the United States and Canada, with 350 chapters across 16 regions. Kadima (Hebrew for "Forward") is USY's program for pre-teens grades 5-8 (varies by region).


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.

PreTeen Programming

In 1969, the Youth Commission created Kadima, the youth group for middle school and junior high students.

USY Today

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, South Carolina, and Arkansas). 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.

Famous alumni[edit]

USY has produced over 250,000 alumni, many of which have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, rabbis, synagogue presidents, and Jewish educators.[4]

See also[edit]

  • 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


  1. ^ a b "Far West USY". Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  2. ^ a b J Weekly (1)
  3. ^ United Synagogue Youth
  4. ^ CJ Voices
  5. ^ Jewish Report
  6. ^ Doing Jewish in Toronto
  7. ^ J Weekly (2)
  8. ^ Heeb Magazine
  9. ^ The Times of Israel
  10. ^ The Covenant Foundation
  11. ^ Crescent City Jewish News
  12. ^ Philadelphia Jewish Voice

External links[edit]

United Synagogue Youth Official website