TORONTO — Beth Tikvah Synagogue will stay in the Conservative movement, despite a recent recommendation by the Toronto congregation’s board of governors to terminate its membership in the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) over philosophical differences regarding ritual observance and lack of responsiveness to the congregation’s needs.
Last Thursday, two weeks after the board of directors of Adath Israel Congregation voted to leave the USCJ and terminated its membership retroactive to last July 1, Beth Tikvah held a special congregational members’ meeting, during which a vote was taken to determine whether to amend the synagogue’s constitution, which mandates USCJ membership.
Of the 192 members at the meeting, 98 were opposed to the motion to change the constitution, and 75 were in favour.
The meeting included about an hour of discussion, but it was not heated, Rabbi Wayne Allen, TOP RIGHT, the congregation’s spiritual leader, told The CJN.
“I think there was much exasperation expressed in terms of the services provided by United Synagogue, yet there was a sense that an affiliation with a larger entity is important,” he said.
Beth Tikvah president Jeffrey Jackson told The CJN that the constitutional clause regarding USCJ affiliation can be changed only if 75 per cent of members vote in favour of the change at two consecutive meetings.
“We wanted to change [that rule] to two-thirds of the members present at a special meeting,” said Jackson.
He said the synagogue, which pays $41,000 annually in USCJ membership dues, uses “very few” of the organization’s services.
The USCJ, which has about 760 affiliates in North America, offers services in areas such as education, leadership development, social action and public policy, Israel affairs and youth activities.
Beth Tikvah’s youth group has about 25 members.
Paul Kochberg, president of the USCJ’s Canadian region, said the board of Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue was scheduled to vote this week, on April 15, on the issue.
Shaar Shalom Synagogue and Beit Rayim Synagogue are staying in the movement, and other congregations will vote on the issue in the next few weeks, Kochberg said.