USCJ and the Rabbinical Assembly Agree to Deepen Joint Partnership, Advancing a Shared Vision for 21st Century Conservative/Masorti Movement

USCJ and the Rabbinical Assembly Agree to Deepen Joint Partnership, Advancing a Shared Vision for 21st Century Conservative/Masorti Movement

Posted on March 04, 2020

Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal to Serve as CEO for both USCJ and the Rabbinical Assembly Starting July 1

March 4, 2020 (New York City, New York) United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) and the Rabbinical Assembly (RA) announced today that they are establishing a new framework for their partnership to advance a shared vision of collaboration focused on enlivening and enriching meaningful Jewish experience and to serve as an inspiration to the broad center of Jewish life. With this move, USCJ and the RA initiate a change from the siloed movement of the past, towards an ecosystem of partnership focused on the needs of the members of our communities.

“The most successful spaces in Jewish life (and beyond) are all about partnerships, and it is time for us to model the true synergy between visionary rabbinic and lay leadership, and live what we teach,” explained Ned Gladstein, International President, USCJ.

Starting on July 1st, Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, current Chief Executive of the RA, will step into a new joint leadership role as Chief Executive Officer of USCJ and the RA. Each organization will remain independent, with separate governance and finances.

“We are incredibly enthusiastic about the possibilities that will come from deepening the partnership between USCJ and the RA,” Ned Gladstein continued. “Our immediate goals are to continue to implement the work set out in our individual strategic plans - USCJ’s Roadmap and the RA’s Vision Plan. Together, we will work to strengthen centrist Judaism and effectively bring our Torah to those in our community and those who will help shape our future. Working together, we can achieve results that neither organization could accomplish alone.”

Planning Process

For eighteen months, working teams from USCJ and the RA have met to explore short and longer term initiatives to achieve common goals outlined in their respective strategic plans. Building on the success of December's collaborative 20/20 Judaism convention, and with strong support gathered from staff and board surveys, leadership of both organizations decided that the time was right to proceed with a deeper collaboration, to further explore shared purpose and opportunities for integration.

“The many conversations we have had over time have led us to this important moment, and we are committed to moving forward together,” said Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin, President, RA. “We strongly believe that by partnering together, both the RA and USCJ can prepare for the future, better engage young adults, and meet the challenges of a 21st century Judaism.”

“This new beginning moves us to an ecosystem of deeper partnership and collaboration, focused on the needs of participants in and seekers of Jewish life,” shared Rabbi Blumenthal. “It’s extremely exciting to take this step in intensifying our work together, reinforcing one another, and creating as many new synergies as possible,” he added.

Benefits for Synagogues, Clergy and the Movement

This 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. Focus resources, conversation, and sharing of best practices on the most challenging aspects of centrist Jewish life, including the approach to intermarried couples and families, and the renewal of prayer and spiritual experiences.
  2. Encourage visionary change in synagogue life, fostering new approaches to relationship engagement, worship, education, and community action.
  3. Develop new models of engagement outside the walls of synagogues, including for youth, college-age individuals, young adults, spiritual seekers, and others who might not otherwise enter our doors.
  4. Shape a holistic approach to human talent, re-thinking how we recruit, train, support, transition, and create the highest standards of excellence for clergy, educators, administrators, and lay leaders.
  5. Ensure a broad and strategic approach to connecting and convening those who share our approach to Jewish life, including a global gathering in Toronto in December 2021 to celebrate Torah, diversity, and cooperation on the strategic direction of a renewed centrist Judaism.

A joint steering committee with members from each organization's governing bodies and community thought leaders will advise the new partnership. Both USCJ and the RA have offices in New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary building.

About Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal

Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal is a visionary within Conservative/Masorti Judaism and American Judaism at large. Rabbi Blumenthal has a proven record as a communal innovator and entrepreneur. Prior to his leading the RA beginning in July 2019, he was the founding rabbi of Shaare Torah in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Begun with just 25 families, Shaare Torah today boasts a membership of 300 families. Rabbi Blumenthal also helped create Washington, D.C.’s Ramah Day Camp and local outreach programs to millennials.

About USCJ

Founded in 1913, USCJ is the network of nearly 600 Conservative Jewish communities across North America. “Seek Meaning Together” is our underlying philosophy as we represent the values and beliefs of an authentic and dynamic Judaism in North America (US, Canada, Caribbean, Cuba and Mexico), South America and Israel. Our work strengthens kehillot (Jewish communities inside and outside the walls of a synagogue) by providing visionary leadership training, creating opportunities for Jews of all ages to learn and grow, sharing essential resources, and seeding innovative ideas. More information at www.uscj.org.

About the Rabbinical Assembly

The Rabbinical Assembly is the international association of Conservative rabbis. Since its founding in 1901, the Assembly has been the creative force shaping the ideology, programs, and practices of the Conservative movement, and is committed to building and strengthening the totality of Jewish life. The Assembly publishes learned texts, prayer books, and works of Jewish interest; and it administers the work of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for the Conservative movement. It also serves the professional and personal needs of its membership through publications, conferences, and benefit programs, and it coordinates the Joint Placement Commission of the Conservative movement. Rabbis of the Assembly serve congregations throughout the world, and also work as educators, officers of communal service organizations, and college, hospital, and military chaplains. More information at www.rabbinicalassembly.org.

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Media Contacts:

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

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