Shuls threatening to quit United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism


From Stewart Ain in the New York Jewish Week:

In yet another indication of the problems plaguing the Conservative movement, as many as 40 synagogues are considering withdrawing from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism because the movement’s congregational arm doesn’t serve their needs, according to a leader of a new group pressing for change.

“I say stay and change from within, but 30 to 40 other synagogues may leave,” said Arthur Glauberman, a founder of Bonim (“Builders”). He was referring to multiple comments on a United Synagogue listserv.

Bonim, which claims to represent about 50 synagogues along the East Coast, is now speaking openly of ousting the current United Synagogue leadership, slashing the group’s $14 million budget and restructuring the organization. It is also calling for the closing of all 15 of the movement’s regional offices in order to save money on rent and staff.

“The United Synagogue has become so absorbed with its own power and is out of touch with providing services to member organizations,” said Glauberman, president of Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale.

Synagogues pay dues to the United Synagogue based on the number of congregants. Dues for a synagogue with a membership of 250 families pay about $10,000 a year, and a number of synagogues are behind in paying their dues because of the economic downturn, according to Glauberman and others.

On April 23 leaders of United Synagogue met with Bonim representatives to hear their concerns.

This was the second time United Synagogue leaders have met with synagogue representatives upset with their leadership. In March, the leaders met with representatives of the 25 largest United Synagogue congregations, which called themselves the Hayom (“Today”) Coalition. That group — which includes such prominent rabbis as and David Wolpe, Gordon Tucker, Jack Moline and Alan Silverstein — is working with United Synagogue to develop a long-range strategic plan for the movement by September 2010.

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