Tomorrow Is My Greatest Accomplishment
I was honored to be invited by the Israeli government, and to join other worldwide Jewish leaders in attending President Shimon Peres’ funeral just before Rosh HaShanah. I was proud and humbled to represent North American Masorti/Conservative Jewry, the largest constituency of Masorti/Conservative Jews the world over.
As we approach Yom Kippur, we naturally think of Israel—with the collection of prayers that bring the holy days to a close, with the messianic vision of our people returning to the land, with the liturgical poems of the Mahzor, and finally with our more modern memory of the Yom Kippur war of 1973 in which we almost lost our homeland.
Today, Israel has more than survived – it is thriving in so many ways.
Shimon Peres’s life is the story of the Jewish people and our return to our land. I was truly honored to represent our kehillot at his funeral, and in a new post, Tomorrow is My Greatest Accomplishment, wish to share my reflections of that experience with you today.
My warmest wishes for a G’mar Chatima Tova, may you be sealed in the book of life.
Rabbi Steven Wernick
Statement on the Passing of Former Israel Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres
Once asked what he considered his greatest accomplishment, Israel’s former Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres replied, “What I am going to do tomorrow.” A consummate dreamer, Peres inspired and challenged people everywhere with his tireless efforts to build peaceful ties between Israeli and Palestinian citizens in the Middle East. Read more here.
USCJ Announces USY Reorganization to Strengthen Its Member Congregations’ Capacity for Teen Engagement
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) announced today a reorganization of its youth movement, United Synagogue Youth (USY), to better achieve USY’s mission of helping kehillot (sacred communities) empower Jewish youth to develop leadership skills, a sense of belonging to the Jewish people, and a commitment to inspired Jewish living through meaningful and fun experiences rooted in authentic Jewish values. Read more here.
The Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem Appoints Director of North American Engagement
The Conservative Yeshiva (CY), a project of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), announced today that Rabbi Andy Shapiro Katz joined on September 1 as Director of North American Engagement. Rabbi Shapiro Katz, an alumni of the CY, is based at the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center in Israel. Read more here.
Baton Rouge Flood Relief Fund
Relentless flooding has devastated southern Louisiana, now a federal disaster area. following severe storms, rising waters have killed at least 7, destroyed countless homes and forced tens of thousands to flee for their lives--including Federation staff and many from the local Jewish community.
Jewish Federation across North America are raising funds to support the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge as they meet urgent needs. Because the ongoing flooding is so widespread, we are still working to understand the full impact of the disaster. One hundred percent of your donation to will go to the Baton Rouge Flood Relief Fund. Read more here.
Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Egalitarian Prayer Space at Kotel: Legal Action Is At Hand
Dear Mr. Prime Minister: Because so much has happened since we met in your office on June 1st, we feel compelled to put into writing our deep disappointment and concerns. These concerns have grown beyond the lack of real progress in implementing the government decision regarding the Kotel, and today also include the government's intention to continue with legislating the mikvaot bill and the ongoing and unprecedented incitement presented by cabinet and Knesset members towards Conservative and Reform Jews. These cumulative developments bring us to a critical juncture and are already having a serious impact on the vital relationship between the State of Israel and world Jewry. Read more here.
Statement on Kotel Prayer Service
We wish to offer a Kol HaKavod to the leaders, staff and participants who organized and took part in today’s prayer service at the Kotel. Nearly 500 participants joined this last-minute event to draw attention to the fact that the Government of Israel has not yet begun implementing the agreement to create a permanent space for pluralistic and egalitarian prayer at the Kotel. Click here to read more.
USCJ Awarded Grant from Jewish United Fund
For the second time in as many weeks, USCJ has been awarded a grant for innovative programming. This time, Yozma Pilgrimage was one of the 16 projects selected to receive funding from the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago’s Breakthrough Fund, created to help support leading-edge local programs and initiatives that meet local human needs, engage Chicagoans Jewishly, and strengthen Jewish communities in Israel. Read more here.
Statement Regarding Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu About Kotel Agreement
Today, a delegation of senior North American Jewish leaders, representing the Jewish Federations of North America, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, the Conservative/Masorti movements, and Women of the Wall, together with Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky, held an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to discuss the failure to implement the Kotel Agreement that was voted into law by the Cabinet on January 31, 2016. Click here to learn more.
USCJ Awarded Grant from Jewish Funders Network
We are thrilled to announce that our Community & Covenant initiative was one of the 28 projects chosen to receive matching grants through a program of the Jewish Funders Network for innovative projects that promote "Avenues to Jewish Engagement for Intermarried Couples and their Families," created in honor of Genesis Prize Laureate Michael Douglas. Read more here.
USCJ Appoints CIIO and CFOO to Executive Leadership Team
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) announced two appointments to its executive leadership team: Leslie K. Lichter as Chief Innovation and Implementation Officer (CIIO) and Bruce Skyer as Chief Financial and Operations Officer (CFOO). Both will begin in their new positions on May 2, 2016. Click here to learn more.
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Receives Continuing Support on Inclusion Initiative from Ruderman Family Foundation
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) will build on the successful launch of the Ruderman Inclusion Action Community initiative to transform Conservative congregations into truly inclusive
communities for people with disabilities, thanks to continuing support from the Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) in the form of a $375,000 three-year grant. Click here to learn more.
Statement on Behalf of Worldwide Masorti/Conservative Movement Regarding Egalitarian Prayer at the Kotel Decision
Today marks an historic moment as the Israeli governing Cabinet has approved a proposal to create a permanent space for pluralistic and egalitarian prayer at the Kotel (Western Wall). This space will accommodate all forms of prayer and marks the first time that Israel has enacted a law in support of an egalitarian prayer space at a Jewish holy site, thus conveying official government legitimacy on religious streams other than Orthodoxy. Twenty-five years in the making, the decision brings us measurably closer to the simple, basic fact that there is more than one way to be Jewish and that there should be "One Wall for One People". Click here for the complete statement and here for FAQs.
USY Announces Winners of its 2015 Annual Awards
USY announced the winners of its annual awards, including the first-ever Abraham Joshua Heschel Society Award which was given to Dr. Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), for her lifetime of service to humanity through the lens of Jewish values. Dr. Messinger was presented with the award after addressing more than 700 teens at USY’s 65th Annual International Convention about her activism and social change efforts. Read more...
United Synagogue Youth’s 65th Annual International Convention in Baltimore to Focus on Empowering Teen Advocacy
This December 27-31, more than 700 teenagers from United Synagogue Youth (USY) will gather in Baltimore, MD to celebrate, learn and give back at USY’s 65th International Convention. Read more...
Joint Statement of Worldwide Conservative/Masorti Movement
December 17, 2015 - This week, Im Tirtzu released a video accusing well-known human rights activists in Israel as being enemy agents of the state, while President Reuven Rivlin continued to be the target of incendiary language, most recently from the Heritage Channel and the new media adviser and head of public diplomacy and media in the Prime Minister’s Office. Read more...
Statement on Paris Attacks
We offer solidarity to the people of France and remind them they are not alone, as an attack on them is an attack on all of us. Jewish tradition teaches us that we are all connected; only by separating themselves from the rest of humanity can groups like ISIS perpetuate such evil. We pray for the recovery of those injured and comfort for those who mourn.
- Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO and Margo Gold, International President, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Announces Eric Leiderman as Winner of 2015 Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Award
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) announced today Eric Leiderman, Co-Founder and Director of Institutional Advancement of Masorti on Campus, as winner of its 2015 Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Award. Eric will receive his award on Sunday, November 15 during the General Assembly of Kehillot meeting at the USCJ convention, Shape the Center, in Schaumburg, IL. Read more.
USCJ's 2015 Convention, Shape the Center, to Serve as Incubator for Change
"This November 13-17, the world’s largest gathering of Conservative Jewish thinkers and doers will converge upon the Chicagoland area to influence the future of Conservative Judaism at The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s (USCJ) convention, Shape the Center. Not just a conference, but a launching pad for positive change, Shape the Center is an opportunity to engage, inspire and transform Conservative Judaism and kehillot (sacred communities) throughout North America." read more...
Solomon Schechter Award Winners for 2015
USCJ announced the winners of its 2015 Solomon Schechter Awards, designed to recognize initiatives that shape the center of the dynamic experience of Conservative Judaism. Two congregations, Ahavath Achim Synagogue of Atlanta, GA, and Congregation Beth David of Saratoga, CA, have been distinguished at the highest level for innovation and impact, while 13 others were recognized for excellence in one of five categories. read more...
USCJ Forms Partnership with Rowman & Littlefield to Acquire Its Book Service
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism announced that it has formed a partnership with Rowman & Littlefield, one of the largest independent book publishers in North America, to acquire its book service, effective October 15, 2015. read more...
Statement on Violence in Israel
"The people of Israel are not alone; people of conscience and Jews around the world support them. That support will be felt next week as thousands of the world's Zionist leaders will descend upon Jerusalem for the World Zionist Congress. We stand side by side with Israel in this hour of need. We unequivocally condemn this onslaught of Palestinian terror and call on leaders from the United States, Canada and other countries to do the same." read more...
Conservative and Masorti Leaders Thank President Rivlin
"After months of acrimony, the leaders of Conservative and Masorti Judaism issued words of praise for Israeli Reuven Rivlin, following the pre-Tisha B’Av gathering he hosted at his official residence last night with the heads of Orthodox, Conservative/Masorti and Reform Judaism." read more...
Keep the Memory Alive
USCJ is proud to announce the launch of Blessed Memory, an interactive virtual yahrzeit board.
Rabbi Wernick in Canadian Jewish News
"Rather than asking “How can I get more members in,” I think the core question synagogues have to ask is “How can I get more meaning out?”The change today is if you only worry about membership, you’re not going to get the money or the members. You have to worry about meaning and about how you can understand people’s self-interest, their values, their stories, and organize around what those interests are through a Jewish lens. If you do that, then you build a financial model around it, which is the reverse of what tends to happen today." read more...
Making Change With USY
Matthew Fieldman, an advertising agency CEO who’s won several awards and honors for his work as a social entrepreneur has been named the 2015 “USY Danny Siegel Changemaker-in-Residence” by United Synagogue Youth. Over the course of the year Fieldman will serve as a teacher, mentor, and role model for Jewish teens, inspiring them to make a commitment to social action and social justice. read more...
Office Sale Information
We are delighted to report that after a certified count of all ballots, our affiliated kehillot have voted overwhelmingly to approve the sale of United Synagogue’s New York office. A total of 91.8 percent of the 258 kehillot voted yes on the sale, with more than 40 percent of congregations voting. This turnout was far greater than the New York State Attorney General’s requirement and well beyond the two-thirds approval threshold required to allow the sale to go forward. read more...