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Kehilla Affiliation and Standards Committee

Serving Conservative Judaism's Synagogues, Schools, Professionals and Clergy

Rules and Application for Settling Disputes with the Kehilla Affiliations and Standards Committee

This information was written about the Committee on Congregational Standards. The committee is now called the Kehilla Affiliations and Standards Committee, but the information is still accurate.

Who Are We?

The question was raised by the president of a synagogue that was involved in a contractual dispute. “What right do you have to get involved?” he asked. The answer is that we provide an important service from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism to every constituent lay and professional group. All synagogue professionals can submit or file a complaint with the committee.

The committee is an integral unit of United Synagogue and of Conservative Judaism. Its objective is to serve the affiliated synagogues and constituencies. Every effort is made to meld Jewish tradition with our daily lives as synagogue members. When controversies arise, the application of local civil law is made in keeping with Jewish tradition and customs.

The committee is comprised of leaders, both lay and professional, selected by the president of United Synagogue. The committee includes members of the Rabbinical Assembly, Cantors Assembly, Jewish Educators Assembly, Jewish Youth Directors Association, North America Association of Synagogue Executives, Women's League of Conservative Judaism, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. It is the responsibility of these organizations to educate their membership about the committee's existence and the benefits it provides. The committee meets quarterly.

Standards for Congregational Practice

Each of our affiliated synagogues is expected to function under the Standards for Congregational Practice. The standards deal with the following areas: Basis of authority (the roles of the rabbi and the Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards); Shabbat, kashrut; rites, ceremonies and functions; Jewish education for all ages (including early childhood); religious schools and Solomon Schechter day schools; fundraising; moral dignity; relationships with other congregations and the general Community. (The Standards were revised and accepted in 2010.)

Function of the Committee

The committee functions under the general supervision of the president of United Synagogue and under the control and authority of its board of directors. The Conservative movement's professional, volunteer and academic organizations have full membership on United Synagogue's board. Other than decisions made by way of interim policy and those relating to procedural matters, or by independent panels of arbitrators in handling disputes, the determinations are submitted to the board of directors from time to time for review and disposition.

While its specific mandate is to serve synagogues, the committee often is called upon to assist United Synagogue and other constituencies of the Conservative movement. The main objective is to maintain standards of practice and to build harmonious relationships among synagogues and between the synagogue and its professionals. The fullest cooperation of synagogue leadership is a top priority.

Resolving Controversies

The Standards Committee strongly encourages the inclusion in all professionals' contracts of a requirement that any controversy between a congregation and the professional be sent to it for mediation, followed by arbitration if the mediation is not successful. The committee acts as a neutral body, assisting in an equitable resolution of differences.

Rules and Application for Settling Disputes with the Kehilla Affiliations and Standards Committee

Guide to Contractual Relations

This guide helps in developing contractual relations and provisions for synagogue clergy and professional staff.

Providing Guidance

The committee handles general inquiries throughout the year that may relate to an actual controversy or that may be concerned with a potential controversy ordeal with the guidelines, standards and halakhic/ethical Jewish behavior. Often with input from regional leadership, cases are resolved effectively and satisfactorily.

Publications of the committee now available on the USCJ website:

(Francis Mintz, Esq. wrote a version of this article in 1983 for the United Synagogue Review. In 2000 it was revised, with the guidance of the Committee on Congregational Standards, by the committee's then-director, Rabbi Moshe Edelman, and its then-chair, Scott Kaplan, in 2000. It was revised in 2008 by Rabbi Edelman and chair Ed Rudofsky, and edited by Joanne Palmer and in 2013 by Rabbi Paul Drazen.)

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