As chair of Adath Israel’s United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism committee and a board member, I attended meetings of the Conservative congregations in Toronto dealing with United Synagogue (“Conservative shuls move to secede from USCJ,” CJN, April 3). Your article has led people to conclude that theology was instrumental in our leaving USCJ. In fact, ideology was never discussed by us. We voted to leave USCJ, not the Conservative movement, and we remain a Conservative congregation wanting to form a new association to meet our needs.
Many are concerned about the USCJ’s increasing dues and control. Their model is based on 55 per cent of each dollar staying with USCJ and 45 per cent with us. After paying rent and salaries, there were no funds for programming. When we asked for help fund a mikvah, adult education, regional programming, etc., USCJ told us there was no money.
Regional staff are employees of New York, which determines their priorities, and their wishes take precedence. The region has no autonomy and needs approval from New York for decisions. We wanted to run the Melton adult education program from the regional office without regional funding; New York refused.
All the congregations wanted to rework our association and remain part of USCJ, so we developed a plan for the movement to create a Canadian United Synagogue as part of USCJ, like a child who has grown up and moved out, but is still part of the family. We proposed paying fees to New York, which would leave us funds, and having regional staff hired by, and accountable to, the region. USCJ flatly rejected these concepts.
A subcommittee of the Presidents’ Council tried to negotiate a deal. USCJ offered temporary funds with the expectation that we would move to “normative” dues, with each congregation paying significantly more than they do now. We came to the realization that the best USCJ had to offer was close to the status quo.
While nobody was happy to withdraw after a 50-year association, we now look with excitement to the Toronto congregations working together to revitalize the Conservative movement.
Conservative movement and USCJ (2)
As a past president and adviser of United Synagogue Youth (USY) at the Adath Israel Congregation in Toronto, it is with sadness that I note the withdrawal of my former congregation and the potential cessation of affiliation of other Canadian Conservative congregations from United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (“Beth Emeth leaves Conservative umbrella body – follows Adath Israel in ending USCJ membership,” see page 3).
While my personal liberal and egalitarian beliefs have led me to an active role in the Reconstructionist movement and Congregation Darchei Noam, my memories of regional and national conventions, Shabbatot and study sessions that I was privileged to enjoy as a teenager in USY, and, of course, friends I made, will forever be the foundation of my Jewish commitment. Too bad that today’s Adath Israel teenagers won’t have this opportunity – can their parents really be so short-sighted?
Expelled from café for wearing a kippah
Regarding the article “American says he was expelled from a Belgian café for wearing a kippah” (CJN, Feb. 14), why do I, a 15-year-old girl, who lives miles away, care? I care because discrimination is wrong. This man was expelled from the café only because the waiter saw a kippah on his head. Discrimination is unacceptable in any country, and as a Jewish student studying World War I, I learned that doing nothing, as everyone in the café did, can lead to great problems. Everyone needs to take a stand against racism and discrimination. Everyone should be able to enjoy a simple cup of coffee without worrying about who they are or what they are wearing.
Volunteers in Israel, 1967
I am compiling memoirs for a book about volunteers to Israel who travelled there in June 1967 to help. Many Canadians – Jews and some gentiles – participated. Time is passing quickly, and the record must be compiled before it is lost. If you are one of those who went to help, or have information about anyone who volunteered in Israel in June 1967, please contact me.