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June 2014 / Sivan 5774

At United Synagogue, the essence of our work is bringing together Conservative congregations and their leaders – lay people, clergy, and professionals – to form a powerful network of learning, sharing, and transformation. Together we are helping synagogues adapt to the seismic shifts occurring in Jewish identity and affiliation, and empowering them to become engaging, dynamic kehillot – sacred communities – for North American Jews.

We also forge bonds between Conservative Jews in North America and our brothers and sisters in Israel and around the world. Indeed, as I write this, I am in Jerusalem for meetings with government leaders and participants in our summer programs. All of Israel is gripped by concern over the recent kidnapping of three teenage boys. I’ve told everyone I speak to how much we share their anguish and that we will continue to pray, to rally, and to do everything in our power to bring about the boys’ safe return.

Over the past year, we at USCJ have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of congregational leaders, and from this work, I can honestly say that Conservative kehillot are doing extraordinary things. It is inspiring to be a partner in these sacred endeavors.

As we close out our fiscal year, I’d like to share with you just a few highlights of our joint activities from July 2013 until now. Please follow the links below for information about our activities this year.

 As always, I welcome your feedback, comments, and insights. Please contact me at


Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO

Developing New Leaders
Our colleague Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal says wisely that there are no shortcuts to building community. It takes one-on-one interaction, Shabbat dinners, opportunities for people to meet in small groups, and more. That’s why Rabbi Blumenthal, of Congregation Shaare Torah in Gaithersburg, Maryland, was so pleased that his synagogue participated – twice – in USCJ’s Sulam for Emerging Leaders ... read more

It Began With Conversation
During last fall’s USCJ Centennial – the Conversation of the Century – 1,200 people came to Baltimore for one of the most inspiring Conservative gatherings in recent memory. ... read more

Helping Leaders Make Lasting Change

Many of us have a vision of what our synagogue could be, but it can be a daunting process to make that vision a reality. That’s why we launched Sulam for Strategic Planners, a chance for congregations to receive expert, sustained guidance in identifying their communal goals and the strategies to meet them. ... read more

Nurturing the Next Generation
Through its joyous approach to Jewish practice, its immersive experiences, and its opportunities for leadership, friendship, and social action, USY continues to engage and inspire thousands of Jewish teens. ... read more

Our Home in Israel
As I write this, I am in Israel, where among other things I have had the opportunity to meet some of the 225 adults from around the world who will spend part of their summer studying at the Conservative Yeshiva ... read more

Understanding Who We Are
Synagogue leaders often ask: “What do others synagogues do in this case?” or “What’s the norm?” To help answer these questions, we’ve undertaken a series of surveys to gain clearer a picture of what is “typical” among Conservative kehillot. ... read more

Reducing Expenses, Finding New Revenue Sources
Like most synagogues, we have to make tough decisions about where to spend our finite resources. Last year, we continued to cut expenses through greater efficiencies and a leaner structure. In fact, since 2008, the expense side of our ledger has dropped by $2 million. ... read more

A Voice on the World Stage
As partners in United Synagogue, we represent 1.3 million North American Jews. Because of our combined strength, we have a major voice in worldwide Jewish affairs, and we are at the table when major decisions are made. ... read more

The Future
A big part of our work this year involved revising and updating USCJ’s Strategic Plan, which you can read here. ... read more

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