Meet Our International President, Richard Skolnik
USY changed Richard Skolnik’s life.
Richard, who is now our international president, was so energized by his experiences as a USYer in Long Beach, New York, that after college he spent 16 years as a chapter advisor, a youth director, and then a regional field worker. During that time, he reports, “I was able to affect the lives of thousands of Jewish teenagers by them discover the joys of Shabbat, the importance of kashrut, and the fulfillment to be found in social action projects.”
As he worked with USY, Richard proved himself to be a successful fundraiser and innovator. The projects he began often focused on the arts, including a drama program and an Israeli folk dance company, and the personal warmth that marked him and the problem-solving talents with which he has been gifted made him highly sought out by USYers.
It was the experience of USY, both as a teenager and then as an adult, that drew Richard deeply into Jewish communal life.
After his stint with USY Richard changed roles, going from professional to lay leader as he left United Synagogue’s employ to work in the for-profit world. He became active in his United Synagogue region, Metny, eventually becoming president. In that role, he began a college career day for high school students and their parents, and a commission to think of ways to encourage those students to date and eventually to marry other Jews.
Richard has gone beyond simply playing lip service to the idea that various parts of the Conservative movement should work together. Moving logically to the next age group up from USY, and working in partnership with the National Ramah Commission, Richard conceived of the Mizrach Minyan (originally called the Ma’a lot Minyan) to meet the social and religious needs of those young Conservative Jews, newly out of college, who were looking for Jewish connections. When he became chair of United Synagogue’s Council of Regional Presidents, Richard worked with the Rabbinical Assembly to initiative Building for the Next Generation. The program, a direct marketing campaign, provided newlyweds with information about local Conservative shuls and about Conservative Judaism in general.
Working with the Cantors Assembly, Richard produced the Spirit CD series. The project’s eight CDs (and counting!) have brought the sounds of Conservative Judaism to people’s houses and brought more money in to United Synagogue simultaneously.
Richard also became integral to the success of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires – the camp where his children spent their summers – serving as its chairman. During his tenure there, he helped set the camp on a stable financial footing, instituting capital improvements that made it a model for the others Camps Ramah. He also had been president of his synagogue, the Bellmore Jewish Center.
Richard married his high-school USY sweetheart, Sherry Zuckman. They both were elected to the executive board of the Nassau/Suffolk USY Council, he as first vice president, she as secretary. They have two children, Jeffrey and Frann. Richard is now vice president of sales at Century Direct, a direct marketing company in Long Island City, New York.
Richard is a product of United Synagogue and of the entire Conservative movement. He came up through the ranks as a United Synagogue lay leader, using his skills in strategic planning and organizational skills he has learned from Jewish volunteer work. He has been treasurer and vice president for community relations. He is an innovator, a conciliator, and a doer, as the record shows clearly.
And how he’s our 36th international president.
Welcome, Richard Skolnik!