Bnai Mitzvah Birthright: An Immodest and Audacious Proposal

I would be not where I am today were it not for the life-changing experience I had in United Synagogue Youth, where I served as a chapter president, regional president, international vice-president, and counselor and group leader on USY on Wheels for six summers.  My story is not unique.  In fact, I am certain the vast majority of professional and lay leaders in the Conservative Movement today are products of either USY, the Solomon Schechter Day Schools, or Camp Ramah (and sometimes all three).   However, the reality is that so few Conservative Jews participate in any one of these educational pillars that it begs the question as to how our movement would be transformed if we “bet the house” on immersive Jewish education, and made it possible for every child to see USY, Schechter, and Ramah as their birthright.   Today, I published my latest post for the CJ Online, entitled A Bnai Mitzvah Birthright, where I make that exact proposal.  Read my post, and think about what it would mean to make this immodest and audacious idea a reality.

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2 Responses to Bnai Mitzvah Birthright: An Immodest and Audacious Proposal

  1. Mitch Padnos says:

    Rabbi, I could not agree with you more. I read your post in the CJ and was so excited to hear someone from Conservative leadership that recognized the cost to parents for their kid’s USY partcipation. I have a son on NATIV (who is also making Aliyah) and his younger brother wants to attend Wheels again this summer. Combined with costs for travel to conventions, IC, and all the Kinnus weekends, our family finances are seriously challeneged. I cannot say no as my boys products of two loyal USYers who did not miss an event, however USY participation should not only be for affluent families… right?!?!

    • joshuarabin says:


      Thank you so much for your comment. I absolutely agree with you about the cost issue, and I think that real movement on this issue will only come when people who have the financial ability to create funds like Birthright and the Foundation for Jewish Camp realize that the earlier we can eliminate cost barriers to teenagers getting on these high quality programs, the better. Looking forward to future conversations.


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