Frequently Asked Questions About USCJ and the RA's Deepened Joint Partnership


What are the goals for the joint partnership?

Our two organizations share the same goals and aspirations for the Conservative/Masorti Movement. While we will remain two separate entities in the near future, with separate governance and finances, our new joint partnership has three goals:

  1. To strengthen the Conservative/Masorti movement, by rethinking how our organizations operate and how we can be more effective in bringing our Torah to more people.
  2. To continue to implement the USCJ Roadmap.
  3. To continue to implement the RA Vision Plan.

We have come to realize that the strength of each organization is essential to the well-being of both organizations and to addressing the needs of our movement beyond our current individual mandates.


How will the joint partnership work? Is this a merger?

Under the auspices of the new partnership, USCJ and the RA will begin to leverage the work of both organizations, with shared visionary leadership and a collaborative approach to advancing our work at both the lay and staff levels.

We are excited to embark on this journey together. We will explore together ways to share staff expertise and roles, integrate aspects of our operations, and develop joint efforts to meet common goals. There are numerous possibilities for the future. Each organization will remain independent, with separate governance and finances. Both organizations will continue to execute their respective strategic plans and will maintain their current office spaces at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. The organizations will share a joint CEO.


For how long have USCJ and the RA been talking about a joint partnership?

In the fall of 2018, with USCJ poised to launch a search for a new CEO, leaders of both organizations explored the idea of a closer collaborative effort focused on three things: advancing Conservative/Masorti Judaism, advancing the mission of USCJ, and advancing the mission of the RA.

Working teams from USCJ and the RA have met to explore short and longer term initiatives over the past eighteen months to achieve common goals outlined in their respective strategic plans. Building on the success of the collaborative 20/20 Judaism convention, and with affirmation gathered from staff and board surveys, it was decided that the time was right to proceed with a deeper collaboration to further explore shared purpose and opportunities for integration.


Have the other organizations across the Conservative/Masorti Movement been consulted?

The other Conservative/Masorti Movement institutions around the globe have been consulted in the development of this plan, and we have promised to exemplify a model of cooperation that engages them while respecting their independence and unique missions.


How will the joint partnership benefit synagogues and clergy?

The new partnership framework strengthens the organizations’ collective ability to support and connect rabbis, synagogues, and Conservative/Masorti Jews more broadly. Among the immediate benefits are the opportunities to:

  1. Model organizationally the clergy-lay leadership partnership prevalent in and universally needed in synagogues, schools, Hillels, innovative ventures, and venues where both organizations work to engage community members.
  2. Seamlessly tackle current issues facing synagogues and clergy, such as creating engaging prayer experiences, developing new disruptive models for communities, and engaging the next generation through USY.
  3. Bring the entrepreneurialism and creativity that is found across North American synagogues and beyond to more conversations and shared spaces.
  4. Use a more holistic approach in addressing issues about clergy and lay leader recruitment, training, retention, and transitions.

How will the joint partnership benefit the Conservative/Masorti movement overall?

The joint partnership between USCJ and the RA provides a bigger platform to shape our Judaism, from which to have direct dialogue between individual Jews with rabbis as a whole, and to find and shape centrist communities.

Together, we will have a broader mission and vision for the movement, to motivate funders to allow us to do more. Our new synergy will create new energy and creativity and will engage new programs and funding partners. As part of our focus on enhancing the movement, we commit to making space for the “big questions” and engaging partners within and beyond our own organizations and constituencies in addressing those questions, now and in the future.

We will bring the RA’s culture of rabbinates beyond congregations to become a part of the work of our movement, as we think about how to engage participants beyond the walls of our synagogues -- on campus, in schools, with young adults in our communities, with spiritual seekers, and others.

We will bring the entrepreneurialism and creativity that are often found in the work of our colleagues outside of North America to bear in our work in North America.


Will this impact each organization’s finances?

No. Each organization remains separate legal and financial entities. Together, we will best utilize the resources we have, and any savings that result will be reinvested in initiatives to help us grow.


Does this collaboration affect the process for determining Jewish law in the Conservative Movement?

Even as the two organizations deepen their partnership, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) will continue to make halakhic decisions on behalf of the movement, and rabbis will remain the marei d’atra of their respective congregations and organizations.


How does this affect the resolution of disputes between rabbis and congregations when they arise?

We hope that this collaboration will model the partnership that is needed in our congregations and other institutions. However, when necessary, the Advocacy and Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program and the Joint Placement Commission (JPC) will continue to function as semi-autonomous bodies, with policies and operating procedures approved jointly by both USCJ and the RA.


Will the process for synagogues searching for rabbis be impacted?

Rabbinic search will continue to work with USCJ’s synagogue consultants advising synagogues and posting their positions through the current system. We anticipate the technical procedure staying the same, however, our teams working in this area have already deepened their collaboration and we hope that we will work even more closely together in the future to continually coordinate and improve support to rabbis and congregations during clergy transitions.


Media Contacts:

Julie Livingston, USCJ
[email protected]
(646) 519-9222 (direct)

Steve Rabinowitz for The Rabbinical Assembly
Bluelight Strategies
[email protected]
(202) 494-7655