Thursday, February 9, 2012

United Synagogue February eNews

eNews: Electronic Bulletin - The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

February 2012


Welcome to Beth Sholom Congregation of Frederick, Maryland, the newest affiliate in our kehilla of kehillot.

What's New for You

Register Now to Go to Israel! - If, that is, you are between 22 and 26, or know someone who is eligible. This is for a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip with the Conservative movement. Registration opens February 15 and stays open for a short time, so if you want to see Israel through a Conservative movement (and free) lens, register now. Refer someone eligible and you can win an iPad2, an iPHone 4s, or a Macbook Air. Go on the trip, and you get to see Israel.

Ma'a lot Israel Education and Advocacy Grants - United Synagogue's Israel Commission and Nefesh b'Nefesh join to offer grants to kehillot for Israel education and advocacy. The intent to apply deadline is February 20. Email Kathy Elias for more information.

Sulam for Current Leaders

  • The Delegation Plan - The next in the series of Sulam webinars, the Delegation Plan, helps you, as a leader of your kehilla, to define the roles of the executive committee, board, and committees, reduce role confusion, explore how decisions are made, create the vision of an effective board, and organize your board to be more efficient. It's set for Wednesday, February 29, at noon and again at 8 pm., both eastern standard time. Register and we'll email you call-in details by midday on Febrary 28.
  • The Change Management Plan - The second webinar in Sulam for Current Leaders, the Change Management Plan, is online. This webinar was designed to help leaders cultivate change and navigate innovation in their kehillot.
  • Earlier Webinars - Earlier Sulam for Current Leaders webinars are posted; they are the Leadership Plan and an Introdution to Sulam.

Find A High Holiday Cantor (Wait. What?) - It's not too early to look for a cantor for the high holy days, or for cantors to find a kehilla that requires their services. We can get you started; we also can help with placement for other Jewish professionals.

CJ's Almost in the Mail - The latest issue of CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism looks at rabbis without borders, kehillot (temporarily) without buildings, people (again temporarily) without jobs, synagogue buildings without Jews, and a Renaissance siddur with a surprisingly modern twist. And because, although it's not clear how this happened, Passover is just two months away, some recipes and a seder checklist. Expect CJ by the end of the month. And if you are among the leaders of your kehilla, and you do not get CJ, we can fix that! Please send us your mailing lists. Email Bonnie Ras for more information.

Letter to President Obama - Our CEO, Rabbi Steven Wernick, joined a list of more than 20 other heads of major U.S. religious group in signing a letter thanking President Obama and the Health and Human Services department in affirming that contraceptive services must be covered by most insurance policies without deductibles or co-pays, and that only purely sectarian organizations are exempt from this requirement.


Koach Kallah – It's not too late to register for the Koach Kallah, set for February 23-26 at Boston University. And it's not unaffordable! Thanks to a generous grant from Women's League for Conservative Judaism, registration is only $100, and a travel equity fund will help offset travel costs over $200. If you or your favorite college student needs more of a push, look at this.

Learn with the Conservative Yeshiva - Two scholars from our Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center's Conservative Yeshiva plan to teach and visit here in the next few months. From March 16 to March 25 Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein will teach in the Washington, DC, area, and Rabbi Shmuel Lewis will do the same in metropolitan New York. In early June, Shoshana Cohen will teach in New Jersey and Philadelphia. Local KRMs have details, so email Jo-Ann Tucker-Zemlak for information about Rabbi Silverstein's visit, Nadine Kochavi for details about Rabbi Lewis's trip, and Michelle Rich to learn about Ms. Cohen's.

New Directors Institute - Our education department offers the New Directors Institute, a three-day institute and yearlong coaching program for new educational directors, from June 19 to June 21 at the Pearlstone Retreat and Conference Center. For $500, brand new or sort-of-new directors can gain a toolbox of useful strategies and a network full or other professionals. For more information or to register, email educational consultant Susan Wyner.

What We've Been Doing for You

Scholar-in-Resident Program in California - Rabbi Gail Diamond, associate director of the Conservative Yeshiva at United Synagogue's Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center, was scholar-in-residence in our Northern Pacific region in late January. Here, more than 40 people crammed into the living room of Rabbi Daniel Pressman's house in Saratoga, California, to learn with her.

Honoring Merrill Alpert - Merrill Alpert, Pacific Southwest's director of informal education and youth activity for Far West USY, was honored with the Or Zarua award from the Jewish Educators Assembly for her lifetime of service to the Jewish community. At the same time, 20 emerging leaders in their 20s were honored with the JEA's 20/20 award; 11 of them were alumni of Far West USY.

Abayudaya Youth Association - The Abayudaya Youth Association of Uganda, a chapter of Far West USY, held its annual convention in January. The group is underwritten in part by United Synagogue's Pacific Southwest region, and as in other years some members of Far West went to Uganda for the convention and helped with leadership training and programming skills.

Meeting of Presidents - In December, our international president, Richard Skolnik, and the president of the Rabbinical Association, Rabbi Gilah Dror, went to a holiday party at the White House. Here, they are flanked by Michelle and President Barack Obama.


Summer 2012 – It's Closer Than You Think - If your teenager wants to join us in one of our life-altering summer programs - you can go to the glaciers in Alaska or to sun-soaked Israel, to the depths of the Grand Canyon or the heights of Masada - please register now. Don't be closed out!

Nativ Opens a New Track - Nativ, USY's gap-year leadership program in Israel, now offers a track in Kfar Hassidim Youth Village. You can get regular updates about Nativ 31's year in Israel on Twitter by following @nativisrael. Nativ is accepting applications for the 2012-2013 school year.

Heschel Honor Society Kinnus - Members of USY's Heschel Honor Society are invited to a weekend of spirited tefillah, thought-provoking Jewish study, social action, and ruach from March 9 to 11 at Tifereth Israel CongregatIon in Washington, DC for the Heschel Honor Society Kinnus.


A Taste of Nativ - Koach, for college students, invites Nativ alumi to bring a taste of that Israel-based gap-year program to their campuses. Thanks to United Synagogue's Israel Commission and Rabbi Paul Freedman, two $250 grants are available for a student-run, Nativ-style oneg Shabbat or seudah shlishit. Email Koach with proposals or questions.

Koach On The Road - This semester, Koach, for college students, offers a weekly class at Boston University on Strange Stories in the Mishah, works with Hillels of New York to build a presence at Pace University; vists Nativ in Israel, Yale, Queens College, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, and other schools, and presents an area-wide workshop on making Jewish college courses at Congregation Beth El in Vorhees, New Jersey. For a little more Koach, wherever you happen to be, email Koach's director, Rabbi Elyse Winick.

From the Conservative Yeshiva

Conservative Yeshiva Online Learning - The Conservative Yeshiva's four-week online course about midrashim on the Exodus begins on March 4. Register now!

Volunteer in Israel This Summer - The Conservative Yeshiva's Volunteer and Study summer program gives you the chance to learn with a diverse group of students and meet Israelis by volunteering with an Israeli nonprofit. Come to Israel for a summer to live your Jewish values!

United Synagogue's Kallah 2011

United Synagogue's biennial convention, transformed into a kallah centering around Shabbat, met in La Jolla, California, from December 1 through December 4.

We have wonderful vendors, and we would like to thank them. Here's a list. We hope that synagogue leaders will consider this list as they shop for goods or services.

Israel Commission

Jewish National Fund - More than 80 kehillot have signed up for the partnership between United Synagogue and the Jewish National Fund that gives each kehilla a 20 percent rebate when its members buy products, including trees planted in Israel, through a special link on JNF's website.

Send Us Your Names - Many of our kehillot have changed administrations in the last few months, or are about to do so. If you have a new Israel Affairs chair, please send Rabbi Paul Freedman his or her name and email address, along with the name of your kehilla, its city and state or province, and the name of the recently retired chair.

From Our Book and Media Center

Are You Ready for Adar? - Purim begins on the evening of March 7, and do we have a megillah for you! The offerings in our Book and Media Center range from JT Waldman's graphic version of Megillat Esther to the JPS Bible Commentary – Esther to the more traditional Book of Esther.

And if you need some new ideas or new perspectives, Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Winter Holidays and The Tapestry of Jewish Time are great sources.

Around the Jewish World

Centennial in Kentucky - Ohavay Zion Synagogue in Lexington, Kentucky, is celebrating its first hundred years. It's planning a party the weekend of April 27-29, and welcomes all former members, as well as anyone interested in its rich history. For more information, write to Sue Ezrine and you'll be added to the mailing list.

Around the Jewish World

Jewish Disability Awareness Month - February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month. Learn more or take a look at JDAM's program guide.

Human Rights Campaign/Jewish Organization Equality Index - The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nonprofit educational division of the United States' biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organization, is working with Jewish philanthropists and nonprofits on the Jewish Organization Equality Index. Conservative movement institutions are urged to complete a survey and be included in this groundbreaking effort. To join this survey, a kehilla representative should fill out this form; within three days the HRC Foundation will send login information for the next step.

Web Hosting

Take advantage of free Internet hosting services to affiliated synagogues, USY chapters, and afternoon/day schools. We now also can provide your synagogue with a free template CMS website.

Two Minute Torah

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The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
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