United Synagogue’s Koach campus program gets a reprieve


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Conservative movement has reduced funding for its college campus organization, and expects Koach supporters to come up with the remaining requested money, according to United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism’s executive vice president.

In its board meeting in Detroit on Sunday, USCJ voted to provide Koach with $100,000 for fiscal year 2013, beginning July 1, provided that the campus group’s supporters come up with an additional $130,000 by the end of December, Rabbi Steven Wernick told JTA.

The board also will work to develop a three- to five-year business plan for the organization, Wernick said. He called the program, which serves some 25 campuses and 3,000 students, a “high-impact program with minimal participation."

The United Synagogue outlay is enough to fund the campus group until the end of December, he said.

“If they don’t raise the funds by then, they don’t have the resources to be able to continue it,” Wernick said.

Reports last week that United Synagogue might cut funding altogether led to the creation of savekoach.org, a petition to rescue the campus group. It garnered 850 signatures, according to Douglas Kandl, Koach representative at Pace University in New York.

He said he is confident the group will be able to raise the necessary funds.

The Women’s League of Conservative Judaism came to Koach’s rescue earlier this year when it raised about $35,000 in a “last-minute” campaign to save February’s Koach kallah, its annual conference, The Jewish Standard reported.

“We have continued to raise funds,” Rhonda Jacobs Kahn, Women’s League communications director, told JTA.

Rabbi Ari Israel, the Hillel director at the University of Maryland at College Park, called the decision “a step in the right direction.”

“We need to have ideologically based interests for those kids looking for it,” he said.

Kandl agreed, saying that the movement has invested in young people through its United Syngogue Youth groups and Camp Ramah. At the college level, he said, "we need something to be able to retain them in the movement and keep them active."


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