We are writing to share exciting information about a deeper partnership between Our RA and USCJ. As you may know, USCJ recently moved to the JTS campus in New York City, where our own offices are also located. We have been working on many joint projects together, including the very successful joint convention in Boston this past December. Together we have recognized the potential of deep collaboration, and are now planning a new framework of cooperation that will enable us to strengthen Conservative/Masorti Judaism in North America and around the world.
Recently our conversations with USCJ about further integration have intensified, and we are preparing to take new steps. At recent meetings (including a USCJ Board Meeting just this evening), the boards of both organizations agreed on a new framework of cooperation. Beginning July 1, our Chief Executive, Jacob Blumenthal, will begin serving as the CEO for both USCJ and the RA.
While remaining two separate entities, this collaboration has three goals:
- To continue to implement the Our RA Vision Plan, (here's an update on steps we've taken recently to further this goal)
- To continue to implement the USCJ Roadmap, and
- To strengthen the Conservative/Masorti movement by rethinking our organizations and work, and how we can be more effective in bringing our ever-relevant Torah to more people in more places in more ways.
We expect this joint executive leadership and closer collaboration to bring many benefits, including:
- Strengthening collaborations between clergy, professionals, funders, and lay leaders, critical for growth and relevance in the 21st century. We will model the partnerships that need to become universal in our synagogues, schools, Hillels, innovative ventures and all the other venues where we work to engage community members
- Using a more holistic approach in addressing big issues related to managing the careers and roles of our clergy, professionals and lay leaders
- Tackling challenges facing synagogues and clergy, such as creating engaging prayer experiences, developing new models for communities, and engaging with disruptive change
- We will bring our RA's culture of rabbinates beyond congregations to become a part of the work of our movement, as we think about how to engage participants beyond the walls of our synagogues -- on campus, in schools, with young adults in our communities, with spiritual seekers, and others
- We will bring the entrepreneurialism and creativity that are often found in the work of our colleagues outside of North America to bear in our work in North America.
- Our new synergy will create new energy and creativity, engaging new program and funding partners
The leadership of both organizations understand Our RA's commitment to connecting and supporting rabbis in every career track, and all over the globe, and part of this plan includes additional investments in our programs to support rabbinates beyond congregations and outside North America.
The other Conservative Movement institutions around the globe have been consulted in the development of this plan, and we have promised to provide a model of cooperation that engages them while respecting their own independence and unique missions.
Just as we have found new ways to collaborate in our work in recent months, we anticipate that this new level of partnership will bring us even closer in our relationship as institutions. This new plan is not a merger -- while we will share a CEO, we will have separate bank accounts, budgets, and boards. However, over the three years of this agreement, we will explore our shared purpose, determine areas for joint operation, and explore a new model of integration or possible merger.
This is a big step for both organizations, and we expect our member colleagues to have questions and concerns. We have scheduled Zoom conversations on the following dates for RA members:
You are also welcome to share your thoughts, questions, and comments here.
We never take for granted your ongoing commitment to our RA and our Movement. We will keep you informed as this process develops, and look forward to your continued engagement and leadership in this process, as we bring our Torah to more people in more places in more ways in the years ahead.
Debra Newman Kamin Stewart Vogel
President Vice President and President Elect