Koach Saved For Now


Koach, the college program of the Conservative movement that was to have been defunded for budgetary reasons, was granted a six-month reprieve Sunday by the directors of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

The board of directors decided to budget $100,000 for the program in the hope that an additional $130,000 could be raised by December. In a press release, Rabbi Steven Wernick, the organization’s chief executive officer, was quoted as saying Koach’s “future is contingent upon raising an additional $130,000.”

At the same time, he insisted, “it was never our intent to cut the program; we merely called for a summer hiatus to regroup and strategize about new methods of fundraising. Koach is key to the future health of Conservative Judaism.”

But Douglas Kandl, one of the students who created a website (savekoach.org) to raise money and generate support for Koach, said he understood that funding was to cease for the college group that serves 3,000 students on 25 campuses. He said the board decided to provide partial funding only because of student and supporter protests triggered by a story in The Jewish Week that USCJ’s budget committee had defunded Koach at Rabbi Wernick’s request.

In his statement, Rabbi Wernick said the organization had received more than 500 e-mails in support of Koach — primarily from students — and that more than 750 people had signed the online petition imploring USCJ to continue to fund the program.

He said the board of directors has created a Koach Consortium to develop a three-to-five-year business plan to ensure continued funding of Koach.