May 5, 2010

Fwd: United Synagogue May eNews

eNews: Electronic Bulletin - The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

May 2010

What's Happening

United Synagogue, Conservative Movement Join Other Groups to Criticize Israeli Conversion Bill

United Synagogue, Conservative Movement Join Other Groups to Criticize Israeli Conversion Bill - Israeli Member of Knesset David Rotem and Israel's deputy foreign minister, Daniel Ayalon, met with United Synagogue leaders, other Conservative movement leaders, and heads of the Reform and Reconstructionist movements to urge us to back down on our criticism of MK Rotem's proposed conversion bill. We appreciate their concern and respect their integrity but reject their bill, as does the director of the Masorti movement in Israel.

During that visit, as shown in the photo above, MK Rotem visited the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, where high school students talked to him freely, even challengingly, about their concerns about religious pluralism in Israel.

Teleconference on Jewish College Choices - There are many factors to consider when you (or your child, or your congregant's child) consider a college, and surely a campus's Jewish life should be among them. Koach's Rabbi Elyse Winick will discuss those factor in two teleconferences, both on Thursday, May 6, one at 3 eastern time and the second at 8, also eastern time. The calls are open to high school students, their parents, and their United Synagogue-affiliated congregations' lay and professional leaders. Respond to Ariella Brody and include the time you'd prefer, along with your shul's name, town, and state.

Teleconference on Membership - How do you (assuming that you're a synagogue) recruit new members? How do you retain them? To begin at the beginning, how do you start the process? Robert Leventhal of the Alban Institute led a teleconference exploring those and related questions.

CJ?s in the Mail

CJ's in the Mail - The summer issue of CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism, considers issues as diverse as Jews in the military, Barbie at shul, and feet on silk crossing the river Jordan. Look for it in your mailbox the second week of May.

Presbyterian Church's Report on Israel - As the Presbyterian Church USA considers voting to accept a report that strikes many Jews as not merely critical of Israel but actively anti-Zionist, we at United Synagogue join in deploring the report and explain why we think it's dangerous.

Help Stop Iran From Going Nuclear - If Iran succeeds in obtaining nuclear weapons, it will pose an existential problem to Israel – and to all of us. An ad that United Synagogue and many other Jewish groups placed in the New York Times ask you to sign a petition urging the United States to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

Helping Haiti - As soon as news of the massive earthquake that demolished much of Haiti made it to North America, many members of our affiliated synagogues wanted to help, and they wanted to donate through us. So far, with donations coming in both online and through the mail, we have collected more than $150,000 for relief efforts there.

New Ideas

Marketing Synagogues - Many synagogue leaders have asked for help in marketing their shuls. We offer them Telling the Story: Synagogue Communications by Steve Rabinowitz.

Bragging Rights

Young Leaders in Seaboard

Young Leaders in Seaboard - More than 160 people celebrated United Synagogue's 15 Young Leadership award winners as the Seaboard region put on one of its last events – it has joined the Southeast region in a new merged district. Here, some of the 15 winners stand together; later, they listened to a panel discussion speculating on how the next generation of Jews will worship.

Schechter Students Visit Israel - This year, 1,113 students from 32 Solomon Schechter Day School Association-affiliated schools visited Israel on a school trip. Most of those students are eighth graders on two-week programs, some were fifth and sixth graders, and some, who were in Israel from anywhere from seven weeks to nearly four months, are seniors. These trips help cement the students' bond to Israel as they gain a realistic appreciation of life there.

Chinese Dinner in West Vancouver

Chinese Dinner in West Vancouver - In West Vancouver, Har El Tzofim USY's Chinese fundraising dinner drew about 120 people; the funds raised that night will support the USY group's scholarship fund and other tzedakah projects.

Spaghetti in Calgary - Calgary Kol Hashalom USY raised money by eating spaghetti. The chapter attracted 150 people, made lots of money, and was highly successful.


New Directors' Institute - United Synagogue's program for new education directors and principals at schools affiliated with Conservative synagogues will run from Tuesday, June 22, to Thursday, June 24. New this year, the program will meet at the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center in Reisterstown, Maryland, and it will cost only $450 if you share a room ($500 if you do not). Email our education consultant Susan Wyner for more information and to register.

Hazak Goes to Camp - Hazak, for people 55 and older, invites you to camp at Block and Hexter Vacation Center Center in Poyntelle, Pennsylvania, for a week of fun, friends, music, learning, and food, from June 30 to July 7. Email Jo-Anne Tucker-Zemlak for more information or a reservation.

Conference at Mayyim Hayyim - United Synagogue is co-sponsoring a conference at Mayyim Hayyim, the community mikvah in Boston, October 10-12.

Hazak Goes to Israel – Twice - Hazak, United Syangogue's program for people 55 and older, has run such successful annual trips to Israel that we've decided to go twice within a six-month period. The first trip is set for November 7 to November 18, and the second for March 13 to 24.

USY and Nativ

A USYer on USY - Wendy Low of St. Louis, a high school student who is co-president of her USY chapter, BSKI, wrote an op-ed for the St. Louis Jewish Light about how USY helped strengthen her Jewish identity.

A USY Parent on Nativ - The father of a Nativ student has been so moved by his son's experience on the seven-month program for newly graduated high school students that he wrote an open letter urging other parents and children to consider strengthening their commitment to Jewish living and learning, to Israel, and to tikkun olam.

USY Regional Conventions - Thousands of USYers will be at regional conventions this spring, as they renew friendships, meet new people, and explore what being Jewish in this world means.

Summer 2010 Programs - Although the summer is approaching rapidly, there still are a few openings for USY summer programs. It's the escape of a lifetime, and often the strengthening of a lifelong Jewish connection.

Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center

Honoring Rabbi James Lebeau

Honoring Rabbi James Lebeau - On June 30, Rabbi James Lebeau, the head of United Synagogue's Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center, will retire. He's headed the Fuchsberg Center since 1997; before that he was a U.S. Navy chaplain and a congregational rabbi in both Massachusetts and Japan. He is well loved, and he will be missed greatly.

A scholarship has been established in his honor, so that the students who knew him and loved him – and to know him is to love him – will be able to contribute to the institution he has done so much to sustain.

Summer Programs - The Conservative Yeshiva at United Synagogue's Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center offers intensive Hebrew and Jewish text study. This summer, the first session will run from June 27 to July 15 and the second will be from July 18 to August 5. The Yeshiva, which is open to all students, from beginners through advanced learners, is accepting registration for both summer and full-year programs.

From the Book Service

The high holidays are not that far away. This year, we can take the Rabbinical Assembly's new machzor, Lev Shalem, to shul with us. The machzor, which was years in the making, is available through United Synagogue's Book Service. The retail price is $44, and there are discounts available for single copies, larger sales, Jewish retailers, and general retailers and wholesalers. Email or call , ext. 1031.

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