The strategic plan that United Synagogue and Hayom: The Coalition for the Transformation of Conservative Judaism crafted was accepted by United Synagogue's board at its March 13, 2011 meeting and accepted by its General Assembly in May 2011. The plan charts a new course for United Synagogue, and eventually for the rest of the Conservative movement. An implementation committee began its work soon after the plan was passed.
In June 2011, a staff reorganization marked the start of a major restructuring effort.
Another part of the plan, a five percent dues reduction, was accepted at the May 2011 oard meeting. The strategic plan calls for a revaluation of the entire dues structure in the coming year.
The draft plan was released in February 2011, and both our CEO, Rabbi Steven Wernick, and some of our district directors and board members held in-person and web-based meetings to discuss it, and one of the webinars was recorded. Many people read and responded to it by email or by posting comments. The commission has taken every comment seriously, and considered everything it has heard while coming up with the final document, which is posted below.
The commission would like to thank everyone who was involved in this process. They are moved and humbled by the passion and deep sense of commitment to the movement so many people shared with them.
These material also are available at www.shefanetwork.org.
Board member Rabbi Leonard Gordon of Congregation Mishkan Tefilah delivered a d'var torah at the March 13 board meeting.
The United Synagogue Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center strategic review committee has been mandated by the strategic plan "to undertake a complete strategic review of the Fuchsberg Center in Israel, including its relationship to USCJ, Masorti and Masorti Olami." Its work began almost immediately.
UPDATE -- MARCH 2012
The ad hoc governance committee drew up a new set of bylaws, structured to follow the mandates of the strategic plan. The bylaws had to pass two board votes, one in December 2012 and one in March 2012. The bylaws passed, and they are now in effect.
Coverage of the Strategic Plan
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Unveils Reinvention Strategy
eJewishPhilanthropy.com, February 3, 2011
In an effort to redesign the Conservative Synagogue movement in North America, the USCJ – in coordination with Hayom – have come together with a consensus plan for the future. The plan emphasizes not only a new way of doing things, but change, responsiveness and transparency.
Conservative synagogue group releases new strategic plan
JTA, February 4, 2011
In the latest attempt to reverse the fortunes of what was once America’s largest synagogue denomination, the congregational association of the Conservative movement has released a draft strategic plan that seeks to improve its governance, reduce the financial burden on member synagogues and refocus its attention on “sacred communities.”
US Conservatives respond to dwindling numbers: New plan for United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism “calls for changes in focus and leadership and dramatic improvement.”
Jerusalem Post, February 6, 2011
A joint commission of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Hayom: The Coalition for the Transformation of Conservative Judaism has gone public with a draft strategic plan meant to change Conservative communities and synagogues.
United Synagogue Turns Inward: New focus on member synagogues proposed along with outreach to non-traditional minyans.
The Jewish Week (New York), February 8, 2011
Faced with a declining membership, an increasing number of Jews who shun synagogue affiliation and the movement’s “best and brightest” migrating to post-denominational or Modern Orthodox settings, the congregational arm of Conservative Judaism is seeking to reinvent itself.
The Evolving Religious World and Conservative Judaism's Challenge
The Jewish Week (New York), February 11, 2011 - Op-ed by Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik, a pulpit rabbi in Forest Hills
There is a great deal of talk swirling around about my movement- the Conservative movement- and its state of being. The lead article in this week’s print edition of The Jewish Week reports on a new strategic plan for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and the changes that it is intending to make in both its organizational structure and sphere of operations. The article implies- not too subtly- that the proposed changes reflect an organization, and a movement, in crisis.
A plan to cure what’s ailing Conservative shuls: National body seeks ‘significant changes’ in focus, leadership
New Jersey Jewish News, February 9, 2011
The Conservative movement’s synagogue umbrella organization has drafted a new strategic plan that seeks to improve its governance, reduce the financial burden on member synagogues, and make the movement more attractive to independent congregations that eschew the Conservative label.
Liberal Denominations Face Crisis as Rabbis Rebel, Numbers Shrink; Struggling for Relevance and Funding
The Jewish Daily Forward, February 9, 2011
Conservative Judaism’s membership rolls are in free fall. According to a strategic plan for renewal issued in February by the denomination’s congregational arm, the number of families served by synagogues belonging to what was once American Judaism’s leading stream has shrunk by 14% since 2001.
Some Coverage of Rabbi Wernick's Local Visits
Conservative changes afoot
Jewish Independent (Vancouver), February 11, 2011
Conservative movement embarks upon plan to retain its relevance
Jewish Transcript News (Seattle, Wash.), February 9, 2011
As a congregational rabbi at Adat Israel in Lower Marion, Penn., Rabbi Steven Wernick about five years ago began to recognize a shift in how his congregants began to view their relationship to their religious affiliation.
Conservative movement considers market testing here
Florida Jewish Journal, South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), January 27, 2011
South Florida could become a test market for ideas to renew the Conservative movement in the United States, Rabbi Steven C. Wernick, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, said during an interview with the Jewish Journal.
Top Conservative shares new vision at Neveh Shalom
The Jewish Review (Portland, Oregon), February 15, 2011
Changes under way in Jewish life today are “as significant a shift as that from biblical and Temple Judaism to rabbinic Judaism and the Mishnah,” the national leader of the Conservative movement told Portlanders Feb. 1.
Conservative Judaism leader to reveal new course Feb. 1
The Jewish Review (Portland, Oregon), January 15, 2011
Portlanders will be among the first in the nation to hear details about the new course that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism plans to follow when Rabbi Steven Wernick, USCJ CEO, speaks at Congregation Neveh Shalom Feb. 1 at 7 p.m.