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]
Director of Teen Travel and Programs
Michelle Rich
Continental Engagement Supervisors
Maury Jacobs and Julie Marder
Zachary Zabib
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, 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 Summer Experience[4][edit]

USY runs simultaneous four-to-seven-week summer programs across North America and Europe. The trips through Europe culminate in Israel.

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.

International Convention[edit]

Hatikvah 6 frontman Omri Glickman performing during USY's 65th annual International Convention in Baltimore.

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.

2015 International Convention Co-Chairs Aaron Albuck and Samara Wyant during their Opening Session skit.

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

Interest Clubs[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[5]
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


Regional Executive Board[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.[6] The 2018 IGB is:

International Convention Co-Chairs:

  • Jacob Deane (METNY)
  • Hannah Wandersman (Seaboard)

Development Chair:

  • Sophia Sloves (Mizrach)

NOAM Olami Partnership Coordinators:

  • Nina Robins (Hagalil)
  • Ilan Rotberg[7] (NERUSY)

Summer Experience Outreach Chairs:

  • Shawn Konichowsky (Hagalil)
  • Ilana Richman (HaNegev)
  • Tali Schor (METNY)

Israel Affairs Committee:

  • Samantha Brody (CHUSY)
  • Samuel Burg[8] (NERUSY)
  • Raz Yona (METNY)

Religion/Education Committee:

  • Benjamin Kane[9] (NERUSY)
  • Noa Kligfeld (Far West)
  • Shoshana Scheinberg (Hagalil)

Interfaith Chair:

  • Joshua Brunnlehrman (METNY)

Social Action/Tikun Olam Committee:

  • Hailey Figur (HaNegev)
  • Zachary Greenwald (Emtza)
  • Anat Pissetzky (CHUSY)
  • Izzy Levy (Pinwheel)

Membership/Kadima Committee:

  • Mira Katz (Pinwheel)
  • Austin Kaufman (Far West)
  • Emily Kutler (Emtza)

Alumni Outreach Co-Chairs:

  • Emma Grungold (HaNegev)
  • Demi Fine (Emtza)

Blog Coordinatior

  • Leah Miller (Hagalil)

Communications Committee:

  • Sam Adler (Far West)
  • Maddie Brim (CHUSY)
  • Julia Feldman (Seaboard)
  • Zack Wolfman (METNY)
  • Madelyn Pollack (Seaboard)

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.[10]

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. ^ "Jewish Summer Teen Travel Programs | USY". usy.org. Retrieved 2016-12-19.
  5. ^ "2017-2018 Regional Executive Board". Hanefesh USY. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  6. ^ USY Leadership
  7. ^ http://www.nerusy.org/2018/02/3-nerusyers-named-to-international-board/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ http://www.nerusy.org/2018/02/3-nerusyers-named-to-international-board/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ http://www.nerusy.org/2018/02/3-nerusyers-named-to-international-board/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ CJ Voices
  11. ^ Jewish Report
  12. ^ Doing Jewish in Toronto
  13. ^ J Weekly (2)
  14. ^ Heeb Magazine
  15. ^ The Times of Israel
  16. ^ The Covenant Foundation
  17. ^ Crescent City Jewish News
  18. ^ Philadelphia Jewish Voice
  19. ^ Renana Books
  20. ^ Jewish Week

External links[edit]

United Synagogue Youth Official website