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The Pacific Southwest Region welcomes the newly elected 2017-2017 Executive Committee:


Belinda Sacks

Shomrei Torah Synagogue

West Hills, CA


Vice Presidents:               

Jamie Berman

Linda Barzilai

David Brook**

Tiffany Doctors

Beth Klareich**

Ben Zion Kogen*

Jennifer Lowe*

Linda Moskowitz

Jeffrey Stern

Michael Waterman*

Sinai Temple

Beth El Congregation

Temple Aliyah

Midbar Kodesh Temple

Tifereth Israel Synagogue

Shomrei Torah Synagogue

Adat Ari El

Congregation Or Tzion

Temple Ramat Zion

Valley Beth Shalom

Los Angeles, CA

Phoenix, AZ

Woodland Hills, CA

Henderson, NV

San Diego, CA

West Hills, CA

Valley Village, CA

Scottsdale, AZ

Northridge, CA

Encino, CA












*Returning PSWR Officer

** Kehilla (Jewish community) Professional


NEW Brand Has Been Launched

We are excited to introduce you to the new USCJ, with the launch of our new brand. The logo and messaging now better reflects who we are, what we do and how we contribute to addressing the radically changing Jewish landscape of the 21st century.

You are invited to visit our new website at The site is designed to give you better access to resources, materials and programs to help your community thrive. Read our new vision, mission and values, explore the rest of the site and tell us what you think—we want to hear from you.

Thank you for all the input you have offered throughout this process. We hope you will continue to lend your support by joining us in a campaign to answer the question, “What does an authentic and dynamic Judaism look like?” Answers can be submitted in any format, be it photo, video, social media post or article. Responses will be posted on our new website and social media. Please send your response to If you create a video and it is too large to send via e-mail, contact Alissa Pinck at for a link to a shared Google folder.

As we launch this exciting new chapter in USCJ’s evolution, we hope you are inspired to be part of our work and to join us as we seek meaning together.

—Margo Gold, International President & Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO


Co-Branding Guidelines

Be sure to update USCJ’s logo on your website and other materials. We ask that you use the language of “Proud Member of USCJ” below, above or alongside our logo where appropriate. You can access our new logo by logging on to the USCJ website. Once logged in, you will find USCJ logo assets on the leadership page. Please contact your KRM with any questions.


Disaster Relief and an Update From Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO

Recent disasters that have plagued many parts of the country have severely affected several of our communities.

The impact of the uncontrollable fires in North California has been devastating to members of Congregation Beth Ami in Sonoma County and the surrounding area. The extent of this catastrophe will be felt for many years. Congregation Beth Ami created a Fire Relief Fund, which will be used solely for matters associated with the fires. The kehilla (Jewish community), or congregation, is offering free Shabbat dinners for the foreseeable future. Although the synagogue’s building is okay, member families have lost their homes or are out of work. Families from Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon, CA, are also struggling.

We ask you to assist the efforts to support the community by donating to the Relief Fund here.

Unfortunately, Congregation Beth Ami was not the only community in our family to have been hurt by the recent catastrophes. Read Rabbi Wernick’s update on our congregations who have been affected by the recent disasters in Houston, Puerto Rico, Florida, Las Vegas and Santa Rosa. Read the full response on the USCJ Blog.






USCJ Convention 2017 is a month away—sign up now to join hundreds of rabbis, executive directors, presidents, educators, millennials and others to tackle big questions facing our congregations and leave inspired and empowered with new ideas, strategies and skills to strengthen your community back home.

Come together for five action-packed days of workshops, conversations, keynotes and entertainment in and around Atlanta.

Go to to see the complete schedule and other details. Register today!






A New USCJ Ruderman Inclusion Action Community Is in Formation

This opportunity is open to kehillot (Jewish community inside and outside the walls of a synagogue), to help communities become fully inclusive of people with disabilities and their families. Join us for an informational webinar on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 1:30 or 7:30 p.m. (EST) Register for the webinar here. You can also find the application here by scrolling down the page. Applications for participation are due by December 15, 2017, and the program will run from January through September 2018.

The program will also be presented at the USCJ Convention in Atlanta in December. Questions can be addressed to Jen Gendel, Inclusion Specialist, at or 847-275-3702.


Professional Development Opportunities for Educators in USCJ Kehillot (Jewish community inside and outside the walls of a synagogue)

  1. Gratz College NEXT program offers high-quality online professional development classes for Jewish educators. USCJ is pleased to partner with them to offer a discount to those working in kehillot (Jewish community inside and outside the walls of a synagogue) affiliated with USCJ.
  2. The Jewish Education Project in New York City has graciously agreed to welcome national participants from USCJ kehillot (Jewish community inside and outside the walls of a synagogue) in all of their virtual networks for Jewish educators. A limited number of slots are reserved for those beyond their catchment area.

For additional information, contact Ed Frim, USCJ Director of Learning Enrichment, at


BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy Now at Ramah in the Rockies

Addiction, trauma-related issues and mental illness are as common in the American Jewish Community as in the rest of society, yet there are limited treatment options that fully meet the needs of at-risk, Jewish young adults.

Help refer people to Ramah in the Rockies’ Jewish Wilderness Therapy program, BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy, the first kosher, Shabbat-observant wilderness therapy program for young adults in the United States, opening in January 2018.


Leadership Resources From the USCJ Kehilla (Jewish community) Strengthening and Transformation Department

Below you will find articles from a variety of sources about critical issues facing religious leaders today. We encourage you to read the articles and share the ones that challenge you with your kehilla (Jewish community) and all those interested in raising the bar for leadership in the Jewish Community. Articles from websites that require a subscription will be marked with an *.

  1. Hurricane Irma Inspires Stay-at-Home Church Services: When a natural disaster strikes, congregations must adapt like all other community institutions. Watch this video from The New York Times about how one church brought community to a dispersed and frightened congregation.
  2. The Real Reason Why Being Jewish is Expensive: Everyone agrees that Jewish life costs too much money, yet few agree about why that is or what should be done about it to ensure maximal participation. Here is an article in Tablet about a counter-intuitive economic argument for the high cost of Jewish living.
  3. The Goldilocks Approach to Non-Profit Board Size: The typical non-profit has a board that is too large, yet figuring out a manageable size for a board is easier said than done. Read this article from Nonprofit Quarterly about how to ensure your board has a manageable and realistic size.
  4. Black, Jewish and Avoiding the Synagogue on the High Holidays: Every synagogue says that it is welcoming, yet the barriers to participation are oftentimes invisible and powerful. Here is a report from National Public Radio about obstacles that Jews of color face when walking into synagogue.
  5. The Future is Happening to Judaism: The Jewish world is changing at a rapid pace, and we need to decide whether or not we want to bemoan the changing present or prepare ourselves for the emerging future. Read this article I wrote for the Atlanta Jewish Times about the need to “see” Judaism for the first time.
  6. Does Chabad Annoy You? Check Your Privilege: Chabad rabbis asking people to shake a lulav is one of the most ubiquitous scenes in the Jewish world, yet many find the question “Are You Jewish?” off-putting. Read this post on the Forward’s website about the need to do outreach to Jews who lack basic Jewish knowledge.
  7. A Love Letter to the Business I Truly Love: Great lay leadership requires passion, yet sadly too many lay leaders do not see their roles as essential to their Jewish selves. Here is an article in eJewishPhilanthropy about the necessity of board members bringing their minds, bodies and souls to governance.
  8. The Leader and the Loyal Opposition: Every leader has critics, yet sadly too many choose to run away from critics and opposition, as opposed to walk cautiously towards them. Read this article from The Faith and Leadership Institute about the possibilities of leaders engaging with their biggest critics.
  9. Great Leaders Delegate Well: Leaders may think they can do everything, yet great leadership requires the knowledge to know when a task requires your attention and when a task needs to be done by someone else. Here is an article in the Harvard Business Review about delegation as a keystone habit in great leadership.
  10. College Professors Aren’t Killing Religion: Universities are convenient targets for the decline in organized religion, yet the data suggests otherwise. Read this article on FiveThirtyEight that debunks the idea that college education hurts religion.

Here are some upcoming offerings from the kehilla (Jewish community) Strengthening and Transformation Department. Click on the links to register or receive more information:

  1. October 15, 2017: Nativ Early-Bird Application Deadline 
  2. December 1-5, 2017USCJ Convention, Atlanta, Georgia

As a reminder, these articles were chosen after reviewing the following publications.  If you have any suggestions on publications you would like to see reviewed, please contact Rabbi Josh Rabin, Director of Innovation, at To subscribe to the Sulam Reader or Sulam Texts, click on this link. 

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