United Synagogue Youth (USY) is the youth movement of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). USY operates in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Uganda. The goal of the movement is to bring Jewish teenagers closer to Judaism and Israel through learning and social interaction.
What Is USY?
The answer starts with an organization called the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). United Synagogue is the umbrella organization of Conservative synagogues in North America. It services the overall needs of its affiliated congregations. United Synagogue Youth (USY) and Kadima are the official youth organizations of the Conservative Movement. USY chapters exist only in congregations that are affiliated with United Synagogue. To be in USY is to strive to learn about and live within the framework of Conservative Judaism.
USY was founded in 1951 and has grown from a handful of chapters to an international organization with thousands of high school age members. In 1964, Kadima was formalized as a separate entity for pre-USY age young people. USY was conceived as a means of meeting the social, educational, religious, and recreational needs of Jewish teenagers. USY seeks to involve teenagers in synagogue life and help build the Jewish community of the future. Furthermore, USY is a Zionist organization, trying to build a relationship between Israel and Jewish youth in America. Today, USY continues to work toward these same goals. One measure of USY’s success is that it has produced its own leaders, as many advisors, youth workers, Rabbis, synagogue presidents, etc. are themselves former USYers.
USY begins at the local chapter level where it recruits members and trains leaders. The next level is the regional level. The regions have a variety of activities to bring together members and leaders from the chapters. The third level is the international level. The international USY offices are located in the United Synagogue building in New York City. The programs it coordinates include International Convention, USY on Wheels, Israel Pilgrimage, Nativ, Tikkun Olam, Chalutzim, 613 Mitzvah Club, Abraham Joshua Heschel Honor Society, and the Program Bank.