Hello Again.

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Dear Conservative Movement,
It’s been a few months since I’ve had to write you a nasty letter, and I was proud of that. You’ve come out against Agriprocessors and even worked on opening up a Washington, DC office like I asked.

But then you go and screw up everything. With independent minyanim, nonetheless. In your latest misguiding, you’re offering $2500 to any independent minyan who will develop a relationship directly with a USCJ congregations (aka sell their soul).

You’re doing this because “during the last 10-15 years many independent prayer or ‘davenning’ communities of young adults have emerged, often generated by those whose commitment to Jewish life grew from experiences in United Synagogue Youth (USY), Camp Ramah and Solomon Schechter Day Schools.”

But in trying to be the sugar daddy to these minyanim, you are missing the whole point. It’s your USCJ-affiliated congregations that aren’t meeting the needs of alumni of your programs. Instead of trying to buy them out (at a ridiculously low price) you need reevaluate what’s wrong in your own shuls and fix that first.

Bringing strong minyans in association with your synagogues will likely both hurt their credibility as independent and unnecessarily place restraints on their approaches to davenning. Renting space is one thing, but my guess is that “developing a relationship” in your mind means more than that.

Improving your own congregations and helping them to meet the needs of the “cool” 20- and 30-something Jews that used to rock out at Ramah and USY will both make you a stronger movement and bring those back to your “derech.”

It’s a good first attempt, but you should probably go back to the drawing board.

Hope you have a great summer, and I’m sure we’ll talk before the High Holidays.

Love,
Meredith

Posted on May 27, 2008

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