United Synagogue is Turning 100
Help Us Chart the Course for the Next Decades
by Richard Skolnick
Have you heard?
United Synagogue is
turning 100. Needless
to say, we’re planning
a major celebration,
which you can read all
about on page 22. But more than a celebration,
the event in Baltimore on October
11–15, 2013, will help us chart the course
for the next decades of USCJ and Conservative
Judaism. By “us,” I don’t mean just
we at United Synagogue, I mean thought
leaders, rabbis, synagogue leaders, scholars,
and innovators of all stripes – everyone,
in short, who cares about strengthening the
authentic, living Judaism that Solomon
Schechter and his colleagues envisioned
when they created the then United Synagogue
of America in 1913.
The Baltimore gathering will look at the
extraordinary impact of Conservative/Masorti Judaism over the last 100 years and
will honor the people and kehillot who have
been integral to the history of United Synagogue.
There will be a joyous Shabbaton,
led by some of our most creative, inspiring
ba’alei tefillah and musical interpreters.
The Shabbaton will be a chance for contemplation,
celebration and connection.
In plenaries and workshops we will join
renowned thought leaders and innovators
in exploring what Jewish identity, synagogues
and Conservative Judaism will look like
in the next 10, 20 and 30 years. What
changes must we make to create the future
we envision? How will we develop the leaders
we need? How do we strengthen our
kehillot – our sacred communities – so they
remain relevant, vibrant centers of Jewish
life? The answers we formulate will be visionary
and practical, inspiring and down-toearth.
Clearly, approaches that worked for our
parents and grandparents need to be
rethought and reimagined for the new century.
But what we do next requires the active
participation of Conservative Jews everywhere
– and of everyone who cares about
the vital Jewish center.
That’s where you come in. As we launch
the next 100 years of United Synagogue, we
need you to help us shape the future. Come
to the Centennial in Baltimore. Join the conversation we’ll be having online, in person
and in print over the next months. Be
part of the work we’re doing to strengthen
our synagogues and communities so they
can continue to enrich the lives of Jews
and be a force for good in the world around
us. To share your thoughts, go to our
Centennial Facebook page at facebook.com/USCJ100 and check out our web site at
I want to take this opportunity to thank
Margo Gold and Jack Finkelstein, Centennial
co-chairs and USCJ board members,
for the incredible time and dedication
they are giving to planning this event. Margo
and Jack are devoted to making the Centennial
Celebration a time of learning and
inspiration, a unique experience that can
only be appreciated when we gather together.
I am truly grateful to them for their hard
Finally, I’d like to wish all of you and your
families a happy Chanukkah filled with light
Richard Skolnik is the international president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.