USY stands for United Synagogue Youth, and it is the youth group associated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. USY is divided into three levels: the chapter, the region, and international USY. Our chapter was founded in 1969 and is affiliated with Shaare Zedek Synagogue. We call our chapter SZSL, which stands for Shaare Zedek St. Louis. Our region, the Emtza region, is composed of chapters from all over (including Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska). The third level is the international level, made up of all the regions from all over the United States and Canada. Across this area, there are seventeen regions. USY is an organization for Jewish teens across the country to meet each other, hang out together, and make lifelong friendships.
SZSL offers a unique opportunity for teens from around the area (and beyond at Regional and International levels) to participate in unique activities with other Jewish teens. We offer diversified programming, and we pull from each of the focal points of USY: Israel Affairs, Religion, Education, Social Action, Tikun Olam (tzedakah), Leadership, and Social. We hold programs ranging from lounge nights to bowling and from laser tag to a basketball team as well as community service opportunities, special religious services, and educational programming. We are sure that, no matter what your interests may be, you can find it in SZSL. Furthermore, we are always open to suggestions, so if there is a need or want that we have yet to address, we would be happy to work with you on fixing that!!
Who can participate in Shaare Zedek Youth Programs?
Noar (3rd 4th, and 5th grades)
Noar is our group that caters to our youngest members. We plan approximately six events specifically for this age group over the course of the year. We also invite them to participate in other programs such as USY Shabbat and the Purim Carnival with the older kids.
Kadima (6th 7th and 8th grades)
Kadima events are held about once a month. In addition, we encourage this age group to start getting involved with the older kids through USY Shabbat, the Purim Carnival, and several other events over the course of the year. In March, the region puts on Kadima Kinnus. This is a special weekend designed to get the 8th graders excited for their future in USY. Furthermore, at the end of the year, we encourage 8th graders to attend CMT (or Chapter Membership Training) to officially begin their time in SZSL.
USY (9th-12th grade)
USY is run by the Executive Board. Each month we hold one to two lounge nights, a USY Shabbat, and one to two additional programs (usually on Saturday nights and/or Sunday afternoons). We also participate in several tri-chapter programs with the other St. Louis USY chapters during the year as well as regional conventions. SZSL participates in synagogue events such as Pizza in the Hut and Latkapalooza, but also plans plenty of its own programming ranging from social like a float trip or ski trip to education like Lunch ‘n Learns to social action projects like cleaning the street and volunteering in the community.
College Connection is our newest program and is offered as a way to encourage those recent high school graduates to stay in touch with USY, with each other, and with the synagogue. Perks include (but are not limited to) food and holiday packages, special visits, subscription to New Voices magazine and the SZsl newsl, and alumni events during breaks from school.
National Site - www.usy.org
Emtza (Midwest) Region Site - www.emtza.org