Conservatives’ umbrella group alters bylaws

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Conservative movement’s synagogue umbrella group approved new bylaws aimed at improving its governance.

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism adopted new bylaws Sunday that will reduce the size of its board of directors and place greater philanthropic demands on the board, according to a news release. The new bylaws also will increase the organization’s accountability and employ new metrics to measure its effectiveness.

“The vote is a major achievement in United Synagogue’s reorganization," said Rabbi Steven Wernick, the group’s CEO and executive vice president. "It aligns new strategies with governance, staff and structures. Our leaders affirmed the wisdom of our mission, vision and strategic plan, our commitment to excellence and the value we add both to our affiliated kehillot and to the larger Jewish world."

The bylaw changes come more than a year after the USCJ released a strategic plan in a bid to improve its effectiveness and shift its focus toward the serving of kehillot, or sacred communities.

More broadly, the plan was an effort to reverse the Conservative movement’s sagging fortunes. Once the country’s largest Jewish denomination, the movement has been overtaken in size by the Reform movement and bruised by divisive debates over the role of gays and lesbians. The USCJ has seen the number of its affiliated congregations drop in recent years from 740 to 657.

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