A group of rabbis representing 25 Conservative synagogues has asked the leadership of the United Synagogue to agree to develop a long-range strategic plan for the movement’s future.
“We have given them 30 days [to respond],” said Rabbi Michael Siegel of Chicago, the group’s chairman. “My sense is we’ll hear.”
The request was made during a three hour meeting last Thursday at the headquarters here of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism.
“We expressed a deep sense of urgency that this is the time to act and to go forward together,” Rabbi Siegel said. “We are willing to put money into the study to offset the cost.”
He said he was hopeful that Robert Rubin, leader of a group of Conservative synagogue
leaders, would have his group join the planning project.
Rubin, treasurer of his synagogue in Washington, D.C., said he attended last week’s meeting and presented his group’s request that the United Synagogue deal with more immediate issues.
“Our synagogue has a culture of inclusion and transparency and we need that same sort of openness” in the United Synagogue, Rubin said. “We spoke of four areas of concern: transparency, responsiveness, responsibility and focus.”
Rabbi Jerome Epstein, the outgoing executive vice-president of the United Synagogue, said the meeting was “very positive” and that everybody “came with the idea that we want to work together to strengthen the movement. ”
Rabbi Epstein is to retire in June. Both groups said they believed it was wrong that the United Synagogue chose Rabbi Epstein’s successor after deliberately excluding the various arms of the United Synagogue from the selection process.