United Synagogue Youth is the youth movement of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism or USCJ.
United Synagogue Youth, more commonly known as USY, is a youth group with members from the United States and Canada dedicated to creating a fun, educational environment where Jewish teenagers can connect in hopes of meeting other Jewish teens in a comfortable atmosphere, combating assimilation, supporting Israel and giving and performing charity. The organization is open to all Jewish teenagers. While synagogue membership is not a requirement, most affiliate with the Conservative movement.
The goals of USY
The general aim of the United Synagogue Youth program is to bring about a meaningful and fully reciprocal encounter of Judaism, the Jewish people, and the synagogue on one side, and the Jewish teenager on the other. As a result of this encounter, the Jewish teenager will, firstly, demonstrate and experience how the Jewish way of living, through study, action and fellowship, leads to personal fulfillment and growth while meeting his spiritual and social needs, and secondly, make a significant contribution to his synagogue, community, society and the Jewish people.
| Name of region
|| Details of name
|| Areas covered
|| Regional President
|| Website |
|| Central Region USY
|| Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia
|| Jacob Hutt
|| www.crusy.org |
|| Chicago USY
|| Northern Illinois, Milwaukee, Madison
|| Seth Lerman
|| www.chusy.org |
| Hanefesh USY
|| Hebrew: הנפש, "the soul"
|| Connecticut and Western Massachusetts
|| David Haber
|| www.hanefesh.org |
|| Eastern Canadian Region USY
|| Ontario, Quebec
|| David Wallach
|| www.ecrusy.org |
| EPA USY
|| Eastern Pennsylvania USY
|| Eastern and Northern Pennsylvania from Harrisburg to Scranton
|| Sophie Taber
|| www.epausy.org |
| Far West USY
|| Region stretches furthest west.
|| Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Hawaii, Utah
|| Aaron Leven
|| www.fwusy.net |
| METNY USY
|| Metropolitan New York USY
|| Greater New York City and Long Island
|| Moss Amer
|| www.metnyusy.org |
| Emtza USY
|| Hebrew: אמצע, "middle"
|| Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Western Wisconsin, Manitoba
|| David Helfand
|| www.emtza.org |
|| New England Region USY
|| Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island,
|| Sara Miriam Liben
|| www.nerusy.org |
| Hagalil USY
|| Hebrew: הגליל, "the Galilee" (a region of the North District of Israel)
|| Northern and Central New Jersey
|| Raffi Mark
|| www.hagalilusy.com |
| New Frontier USY
|| Based on the 1939 film "New Frontier" with John Wayne
|| Northern California, Reno, Nevada
|| Daneh Farahi
|| www.newfrontierusy.org |
| Pinwheel USY
|| Pacific Northwest USY
|| Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta
|| Karen Labis
|| www.uscj.org/pacnw/usy |
| Hagesher USY
|| Hebrew: הגשר, "the bridge"
|| Delaware Valley, Greater Philadelphia
|| Jacob Beck
|| www.hagesher.org |
| Seaboard USY
|| "the area bordering the sea; a coastline"
|| Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Northeastern North Carolina
|| Alex Epner
|| www.seaboardusy.org |
| Hanegev USY
|| Hebrew: הנגב, "the Negev" (a region of the South District of Israel)
|| Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Southern North Carolina, South Carolina
|| Marisa Briefman
|| www.hanegevusy.org |
|| Southwest USY
|| Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana
|| Eliana Gershon
|| www.swusy.org |
| Tzafon USY
|| Hebrew: צפון, "north"
|| Upstate New York, Western Massachusetts, Southwestern Vermont
|| Chelsea Wagner
|| www.tzafon.org |
USY provides its members with optional membership to any or all of its three specialty clubs. Admission to such clubs requires either a small monetary payment to the USY international office, or fulfillment of various standards. Each club represents a specific quality of USY; respectively, in the order below, religious education, Israel awareness, and social action.
Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society
The Heschel Honor Society is a club for USY members of secular and religious academic excellence. The club is named after Abraham Joshua Heschel
. AJ Heschel Honor Society members often have Heschel meetings during regional conventions in which they discuss and debate topics that AJ Heschel wrote about. The Heschel Honor society holds a convention in March each year for a group of about 75 involved members. The Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society Convention was held in Albany, New York this year.
HeChalutzim is a club for USY members interested in Israel Affairs and Religious Zionism
. Members of HeChalutzim often attend unique regional weekends for the club, or enjoy special programming at regional conventions and International Convention. In addition, every year one HeChalutzim member from each region goes to Israel
with the HeChalutzim Israel Seminar, and returns to the regions to advocate for and encourage others to visit Israel.
613 Mitzvah Corps
The 613 Mitzvah Corps is the Social Action club for USY memberships interested in the ideals of social action and the Tikun Olam
program. It deals with helping out the Jewish and general communities.
USY runs a large number of summer trips and programs through the "USY: Great Escape" initiative.
USY sends hundreds of teens to Israel each summer. Trips vary in locations, programming, and mood, but every trip stays in or visits at least the following locations: Jerusalem
, Tel Aviv
, kibbutz Sa'ad
, the Dead Sea
, and Rosh HaNikra
. Security is provided by Israeli staffers with military experience and the Jewish Agency
is a four-week, Israel-only trip which consists of three weeks touring around Israel and one week spent in a mock army
training called Gadna
Eastern Europe/Israel Pilgrimage
Eastern Europe Israel Pilgrimage
consists of exploring the history and cultures of Poland
, the Czech Republic
, and Lithuania
for two weeks and spending the remaining four weeks touring Israel. The trip's itinerary before 2008 inlcuded Hungary
instead of Lithuania.
consists of one week touring prominent historical locations in Spain
and Portugal and then four weeks touring Israel.
Israel Pilgrimage/Poland Seminar
Israel Pilgrimage/Poland Seminar
consists of nine days spent touring prominent Jewish locations, former Jewish communities, and concentration camps
before spending four weeks touring Israel. Past groups have visited Sobibor
, and many others.
Etgar! Outdoor Adventure: Israel
Etgar! Outdoor Adventure: Israel
is a five-week program that goes beyond the souvenir stands to discover the Israeli side of Israel, combining volunteer work with challenging nature hikes in the Galilee
, Golan Heights
, and the Negev
USY on Wheels
USY on Wheels
is a six and half-week bus tour across the United States and Canada, which visits different Jewish communities and tourist attractions across America, including the Grand Canyon
, Mount Rushmore
, and many others. In addition to several buses simply touring, there is one Mission Mitzvah
bus, which focuses on community service projects and social action. Wheels East
, a four-week East Coast trip for entering 9th graders, was added in Summer 2007.
Summer in the City
Summer in the City
is a co-ed, four week pre-college program that takes place in New York City
. The USYers live in the List College dorm. Participants choose a class to take at Barnard College
in the morning with students participating in Barnard's Pre-College Program and the entire group takes a class at the Jewish Theological Seminary
in the afternoon. In the evenings and on weekends, the group goes out to see the various sights and activities New York has to offer, including a New York Yankees
game, a Broadway
, and other social attractions. The group spends one weekend at the New Jersey shore. There is also some community service once a week.
School year programs
USY International Convention
, also referred to as IC, is a yearly gathering of over 1200 USYers from across North America in a different city each year. They gather for study sessions, specialty club meetings, Summer Program reunions (see above) and socializing. The new officers of United Synagogue Youth are also elected at this time. The convention takes place in December, and the 2008 convention is in Washington, D.C.
Past International Conventions have been held in:
1987 - Baltimore
1988 - Chicago
1989 - Philadelphia
1990 - Tampa
1991 - Boston
1992 - Baltimore
1993 - Irvine
1994 - East Brunswick
1995 - Toronto
1996 - Orlando
1997 - Philadelphia
1998 - Chicago
1999 - San Jose
2000 - Boston
2001 - Washington, D.C.
2002 - Orlando
2003 - Toronto
2004 - Chicago
2005 - Philadelphia
2006 - Boston
2007 - Anaheim
2008 - Washington, D.C.
is an eight-week program in which high schoolers (juniors and seniors) live at the Goldstein Youth Village in Jerusalem
, studying and exploring Israel. In the campus classroom, participants are introduced chronologically to each historical period. Campus class time is interspersed with time experiencing the "classroom without walls" - the Land of Israel. Participants learn in an ancient cave, a mountain fortress, an army bunker, riding on a camel, or at the beach. It is the sister program of Tichon Ramah Yerushalaim (TRY), which is done by Ramah. TRY is seventeen weeks long and is for sophomores and juniors.
is a 9-month program in Israel for recent high school graduates. Paticipants go on trips around Israel, attend leadership seminars and study at either Hebrew University
or the Conservative Yeshiva
(aligned with the Masorti
movement in Israel). Participants also choose between living on a kibbutz
(specifically, Kibbutz Sa'ad
or Kibbutz Ein Tzurim
) or living and volunteering in a developing community.
There are six officers on the International Executive Board (IEB). These USYers are responsible for the executive leadership of the organization. They are elected to one year terms at the yearly International Convention. The 2008 Leadership is as follows:
- President: Adam Berman (CRUSY)
- Israel Affairs Vice President: Deborah Hoffman (Hanegev)
- Religion/Education Vice President: Daniel Novick (Seaboard)
- Social Action/Tikun Olam Vice President: Missy Mandell (Hagalil)
- Membership/Kadima¹ Vice President: Joshua Warshawsky(CHUSY)
- Communications Vice President: Scott E. Strenger (METNY)
¹Kadima (translated literally as "forward") is the middle school age affiliate of USY and USCJ.
These positions are mirrored in Regional and Chapter Executive Boards when possible.
The USY office in New York, NY is home to the professional leadership of USY which collaborates with the above USY officers. They have greater responsibilities in summer programs, Nativ and long-term planning. Jules Gutin is currently the International Director of USY.