Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Will Schechter Schools Leave Conservatives?

Troubled System Seeks New Path as USCJ Focuses on Shuls
Charting New Path: Struggling with declining enrollment,
the Schechter network of schools in considering leaving an umbrella group for Conservative Jewry.
Courtesy of Marla Shelasky
The beleaguered Schechter Day School Network — an educational pillar of Conservative Judaism — is considering leaving its parent organization as it grapples with shrinking enrollment and shuttered schools, the Forward has learned.

The Schechter network has been under the aegis of the movement’s congregational arm, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, since its founding in the mid-1950s. One of the movement’s crown jewels, the network has contracted in recent years, a symptom of Conservative Judaism’s struggle to retain members as non-Orthodox American Jews shift away from denominational affiliation.

Now, Schechter — which counts 45 schools in its network nationwide — is considering spinning off to become an independent not-for-profit organization, albeit one with strong ties to the Conservative movement. The conversation comes as USCJ is undergoing its own overhaul, paring down its programming to focus on synagogues, or kehillot, as it calls them, the Hebrew word for “communities.”  -- Naomi Zeveloff, Forward

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