“The 3 C’s of USY”


At the December 2019 USY International Convention, then candidate Austin Kaufman shared what he called the 3 C’s – Connection, Collaboration, and Community with the group of 400 teens from around the continent. The following is his full speech from that day.

We are the future of Conservative Judaism. I’ll say it again: USY, we are the future of Conservative Judaism. Sitting in this room are nearly 400 Jewish teens that are doing the most holy thing possible: spending Christmas together. In all seriousness, we are some of the most active, most passionate, most influential Jews in North America and it doesn’t stop there. We have the power to make change and cement the future of the Conservative movement.

Look around you. Look to your left, look to your right… truly look around. Regardless of who you see, whether it is that person you met yesterday in your crowd breaker session or today at shacharit, your best friend from your region or a complete stranger that you will meet in the coming days, together, in this room, is the future of Conservative Judaism.

We are a very different organization than when we were founded in 1951. With fewer Conservative Jews in North America, it is no surprise that USY doesn’t have the membership it once had, but the USY community can be more connected than ever. That is where all of us come in this year: together we will increase connection, foster collaboration, and maintain community.

Focusing on these three c’s: connection, collaboration, and community will ensure that USY doesn’t fade, but stays fresh and dynamic, and ultimately thrives. Let me paint you a picture. The place: The Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The date: December, 25th 2018. Over a hundred and seventy voices filled the air as USYers sang songs that they all knew, but had never sung together before. Everyone called it something different from Sloach to Slow Ruach to Zmirot, but we all sang the same tunes as one hundred seventy-eight voices became one and the rest of the world stood still. It was the most incredible thing I have ever been a part of and was easily the highlight of IC Orlando for countless people in the Class of 2020, including myself.

The first C: Connection. In this upcoming year, I will work with every single position to take this aspect of connection we all felt in that moment at IC and bring it to USYers across the country all year long. In my past two years on International General Board, I have seen first hand how merely giving USYers from across the continent a reason to connect can form incredible friendships through initiatives like IConnect, Camp Connectors, and the infamous Find Your Sheep Challenge. If elected, we will take this to the next level with the first ever Connection Calendar. The Connection Calendar would be a month of optional challenges to help USYers connect with each other. Challenges will range from “SATO Sunday: do something to give back to your local community” to “Talk About It Tuesday: read an article about Israel and post something you learned.” These challenges will give USYers the opportunity to connect with people they would not have otherwise met from across the continent.

After connection comes the second C: Collaboration. My chapter, regional, and international Mem/Kad background has helped me learn to truly communicate and collaborate with people and I am confident that it will serve me well if elected as International President. When two positions join forces it gives more USYers the opportunity to get involved and feel connected. As President, I would strive to encourage collaboration among my peers. From helping Rel/Eds work with Comms on Buzzfeed type quizzes like “which person in the Torah are you based on your favorite ruach song?” to coordinating a Find Your Sheep Challenge-type initiative where the Development Chairs on my IGB work with the Connection Chairs to pair people by position instead of by grade, the possibilities are truly endless.

That final C: Community. Now, I want to address the elephant in the room – in late April, I received some really tough news: the cancer that I beat in 6th grade randomly came back. Fighting cancer again has been a huge speed bump in my life, but this USY community, whether FaceTiming my best friends from across the continent while getting chemo or having regular conventions to come back to in Far West helped me through this Journey. I am grateful to say that the end of my treatment is set for next month and is rapidly approaching. Why I bring this up isn’t just to be transparent and show that I will be healthy for my term, but it is to show you how much the USY community has to offer and how it is our job, as 400 of the most active USYers on the continent to help everyone find a place in this incredible community.

In the past 68 years, USY has seen many different changes, but I am confident that utilizing the three C’s, Connection, Collaboration, and Community, will ensure that we are in fact the future of Conservative Judaism.

Thank you.


Read more about the newly installed International Board of USY as well as USY programs and initiatives at usy.org.

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