USY and Kadima Chapters

USY is USCJ’s youth movement and provides opportunities locally, nationally and internationally USY empowers Jewish youth to develop friendships, leadership skills, a sense of belonging to the Jewish People, a deep engagement with and love for Israel, and a commitment to inspired Jewish living through meaningful and fun experiences based on the ideology of Conservative Judaism.

Kadima (6th-8th)

Between Hebrew school and bar/bat mitzvah lessons, it’s easy to stay connected to Jewish life. But what happens next?

Kadima, USY’s program for pre-teens. Kadima is for middle-schoolers with programming closely tied to USY, including recreational activities, holiday celebrations, leadership development, weekend retreats, community service projects and more.

Kadima (forward in Hebrew) offers pre-teens grades 6-8 (varies by region) the opportunity to:

  • Meet new people and have fun
  • Stay engaged in Jewish life and learning once Hebrew school is over
  • Experience the joy of Judaism
  • Develop leadership and social skills

Activities include:

  • Events such as bowling or craft nights
  • Jewish holiday celebrations
  • Community service projects
  • Weekend conventions
  • Encampment (an end of summer sleepaway camp experience)

USY (9th-12th) Mission, Vision and Values

  1.  We are dedicated to creating a safe, caring community in which teens can thrive and grow.
    We allow teens to succeed by making space for personal/spiritual growth and supporting their Jewish journeys, engaging them through multiple and flexible entry points.
  2. We are inclusive and find unity in diversity.
    A range of viewpoints and backgrounds – religious, gendered, sexual, racial, ethnic, socio-political – strengthens us all.  We celebrate our differences and believe they enrich our community.
  3. We teach and model Jewish leadership.
    Passionate madrichim (life coaches who mentor, encourage and engage) can profoundly impact youth.  We strive to empower those who will serve as role models and inspire others to make Jewish decisions throughout their lives.
  4. We strive to create joyous, impactful Jewish experiences.
    Through engaging and immersive programming, we create a vibrant community filled with energy and ruach (spirit) that allows teens to rejoice and find meaning in their Jewish identities.
  5. We are committed to the Jewish People and Israel.
    Our connections to the Jewish people in North America, Israel and around the world strengthens us intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.  As such it is our imperative to nurture a deep engagement with and love for the Jewish State.
  6. We are responsible for bettering the world.
    As partners in the covenant with God, it’s our responsibility to perform acts of tikun olam (repairing the world).  We answer this calling by empowering teens to volunteer, give tzedakah (charity), and advocate for what they believe in.

USY’s JOCISM Cohort

USY is piloting a new opportunity for connection, leadership, and education exclusively for young Jews of Color, Indigenous Jews, Sephardi Jews, and Mizrahi Jews across the country. Together, these groups will develop leadership skills, hear from JOCISM speakers who are making a difference in diversity, equity, and inclusion in their communities, and unpack their intersectional identities using Jewish themes and values. Most importantly, they will develop bonds with other JOCISM youth from near and far.

The application is now open! Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis with a preference for applications received by August 31st. If you have any questions, please contact Rafi Forbush.

What is the JOCISM cohort?
The JOCISM cohort will be a subset of our youth groups as we are actively working to create a better experience for JOC youth and their families within the USY community.

Who are these groups for?
These groups are for Jews of Color (Black, Asian, Latinx, etc), Indigenous Jews, Sephardi Jews, and Mizrahi Jews who will be entering 6-12th grade this Fall.

What is the cost?
There is no additional cost to participate in this program. The only costs associated would be in relation to participating in USY regional or international conventions.

How often does the group meet?
There will be two cohort groups, with twenty members in each. One will be for 9-12th graders, and one for 6-8th graders. The high school group will meet monthly, and the middle school group will meet every other month via zoom.

Who is leading this group?
Rafael Forbush is the youth director of Beth Jacob Congregation in Minnesota and Founder of the Multiracial Jewish Association of Minnesota. Rafi, a Jew of Color, was raised in the Conservative movement and has extensive experience working with Jewish youth. Through his public speaking, Rafi focuses on the intersectionality of his being Jewish and a Person of Color. If you have any questions about USY’s JOCISM Cohorts, please email Rafi at forbush@usy.org.

What will a participant gain from participating in this program?
Participants will develop leadership skills, hear from JOCISM speakers who are making a difference in diversity, equity, and inclusion in their communities, and unpack their intersectional identities using Jewish themes and values to enable them to take on leadership roles in USY and beyond. Most importantly, they will develop bonds with other JOCISM youth near and far.

What are the goals of this program?
The JOCISM cohort aims to build community and facilitate a meaningful and fun USY experience rooted in the ideology of the Conservative Movement. It also strives to advance USY’s commitment to inclusivity and creating a safe and caring community in which Jewish teens can thrive.