United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
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|Formation||February 23, 1913|
|Founder||Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schechter|
|Legal status||501(c)(3) religious organization|
|Headquarters||New York City|
|Services||Create, develop, and disseminate educational, religious, and Tikkun olam programming;
Create communities of Conservative congregations throughout North America;
Promote, nurture, and foster a vibrant Conservative Movement;
Advocate for the congregations of the Conservative Movement;
Strengthen the connections between North American Conservative Jews, the Jewish People, and the State of Israel.
Chief Executive Officer
|Rabbi Steven Wernick|
|Mission||To strengthen and serve our congregations and their members.|
|United Synagogue of America|
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.
Representatives of twenty-two Jewish congregations in North America met at the Jewish Theological Seminary on 23 February 1913. The representatives formed the United Synagogue of America to develop and perpetuate Conservative Judaism. The group elected Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schechter the first president.
The name of the organization was changed to the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in 1991.
Role and description
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism works in the fields of Jewish education, youth activities, congregational standards and action and Israel affairs, and published the magazine United Synagogue Review.
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).
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. 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 halakha is treated with both respect and flexibility, and where egalitarian gender practices prevail.
The diminished population of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and its congregations is seen by many[according to whom?] as a symptom of a weak organizational culture in the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism itself. A strategic plan undertaken in the 1990s was squelched when the report challenged many of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's practices. In 2010, dissension reached the point at which a coalition known as Hayom ("Today") was formed and threatened to break away from United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism if significant changes were not undertaken. 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. A new strategic planning committee was formed, co-opting the Hayom group, and in March 2011 a draft of a new plan was announced and posted on the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism website.
United Synagogue sponsors the following projects:
- United Synagogue Youth (USY), a youth group with chapters across the United States and Canada.
- The Schechter Day School Network, which provides leadership and services to approximately 50 Jewish day schools affiliated with the Conservative movement.
- Project Reconnect, which 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.(defunct in 2013)
- "Jewish Synagogues Unite". The New York Times, 24 February 1913. p. 6.
- "USCJ History". United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
- "United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism". Exempt Organizations Select Check. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- "United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism". Guidestar. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- "Financial Statements and Auditor's Report" (pdf). United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. June 30, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
- "Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies". American Jewish University.
- Menken, Yaakov (2005). The Everything Torah Book: All You Need To Understand The Basics Of Jewish Law And The Five Books Of The Old Testament (2nd ed.). Avon, Massachusetts, United States: Adams Media. p. 177. ISBN 978-1593373252.
- Young & Young Adult Programs. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.