My Place In Conservative Judaism and The Threat of Losing That Place

[eJP note]: Last month, the Conservative Synagogue movement in North America released a draft plan for the redesign of the movement. In it, they announced that Koach – the movement’s college outreach project – will be reconfigured and “funding will be provided for new pilot young adult initiatives and outreach.” A group of Koach participants, and alumni, feel there are more effective alternatives and have come together to form the Mahar Coalition. The following is from one of their members:

To the members of the Strategic Planning Commission and the members of the Conservative Jewish Movement:

My name is Robyn Goldman and I’m a student at Hofstra University. Since aging out of USY, I haven’t had a place where I felt I truly belonged. My first year of college, I felt truly alone as a Conservative Jew. After driving the director of Hillel crazy with all my ideas for a brighter future for Conservative Judaism, he offered me the opportunity to go to Brandise Bardin and be a part of Koach Kallah. That weekend changed my life. I met my best friend there and cannot imagine my life without her. In addition, the Torah study and the discussions were vital in my growth as a Jew and as a person. I was truly inspired and went back to my campus more determined than ever to help share my excitement for Conservative Judaism with others. I applied for the Koach Internship and became an intern on my campus Sophomore Year. I learned so much from the internship and that has also changed me forever. I went to Kallah that year as an Intern and ended up meeting my boyfriend, a loving Conservative Jew that I hope to spend the rest of my life with. If not for Kallah, I would never have met him, and would not be the person I am today. This year, I was on the planning committee for the Kallah. I worked harder than ever before to make sure that it was a wonderful experience for those who were returning from past years, but also to make sure it rivaled my first Kallah. From the start of Kallah, the spirit of the 73 students who were able to afford to come was unbelievable. Just singing together in a circle brought tears to many eyes. As the weekend continued, so did our spirit. When we learned that the new strategic plan was going to cost us everything, something amazing happened. Within 24 hours, a coalition was mobilized and a fight began. We are fighting to save what is to many of us the most important weekend of the year. At Kallah, no one is alone, no one doesn’t belong, and everyone attending is a Jewish leader in their own way. I would not be who I am without Koach and I hope I have expressed that in my story. We are not the future of Conservative Judaism… we ARE Conservative Judaism. If USCJ doesn’t hold a continued presence on college campuses and doesn’t provide for the students, there won’t be a Conservative Movement for much longer. You will lose some of the most spirited people in the movement and I fear the movement will never recover. Please don’t let this happen! Reconsider your stand on the college student and help us to remain active in the movement and help us to be the leaders we already strive to be.


Robyn Goldman
Member of the Mahar Coalition