Org. Name: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Location: New York, NY
Mission: The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism is a community of kehillot — sacred communities — committed to a dynamic Judaism that is learned and passionate, authentic and pluralistic, joyful and accessible, egalitarian and traditional. Our kehillot create the conditions for a powerful and vibrant Jewish life, empowering Jews in North America to seek the presence of God, to seek meaning and purpose in Torah and mitzvot, to fully engage with Israel, and to be inspired by Judaism to improve the world and the Jewish People. United Synagogue creates the spiritual, intellectual, and managerial network that enables each of our kehillot to fulfill their sacred mission and connects all our kehillot with a common sense of community, shared mission, and purpose.
Name of joint project: The Ruderman Inclusion Action Community
Partnership Description: This initiative will create a network of kehillot committed to making inclusion a systemic priority – from their sanctuaries to their schools, in their budgets, and in the hearts and minds of their members. A group of at least ten congregations will create and implement strategic plans for whole community inclusion. Resources, strategies and successes will be shared with our entire network of kehillot. Together, we will change the landscape of inclusion in our communities.
Year funded: 2014-2015
United Synagogue on Inclusion: If we can create congregations that are comfortable, warm, and welcoming places for people with disabilities, we will do far more than better serve a particular group. We will make a giant leap toward transforming our kehillot into truly sacred communities, places that foster deep relationships and empower people to live meaningful Jewish lives and improve the world around them.
“United Synagogue is proud to launch the Ruderman Inclusion Action Community with the generous support of the Ruderman Family Foundation. When this exciting initiative was announced, I received messages from many of our kehilla leaders congratulating United Synagogue for embarking on work in this area, and for the opportunity to get help organizing their work towards inclusion. As one leader wrote, “ ‘I feel that most congregations struggle to be inclusive because inclusion needs to be an integral part of all decision making within the congregation.’ ” — Kathy Elias, Chief Kehilla and Strategy Office, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
“The idea of inclusion reflects one of Judaism’s most powerful teachings – that each of us is created in the image of God. For some time, Conservative congregations have strived to live up to that ethos by welcoming and accommodating people of all abilities. Only some kehillot, however, have had the expertise and resources to fully realize their goals. Thanks to the Ruderman Family Foundation, United Synagogue can now provide the training and leadership to create a cadre of kehillot that reflect inclusivity at the highest levels and which in turn can inspire and educate others.” – Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism