United Synagogue Youth (USY) was founded in 1951 as the youth organization of the Conservative Movement. It has grown from a handful of chapters to a thriving and successful international organization with over 300 chapters across North America, as well as a sister youth organization in Israel called Noam.
USY was originally established as a means of meeting the social, educational, religious, and recreational needs of our youth. The organization seeks to involve teenagers in all aspects of Jewish life, including the development of leadership skills needed in building tomorrow’s Conservative communities. USY promotes and supports youth-driven leadership at every level of the organization through its active youth board structure at the chapter, regional and international level. It is no surprise that many of our community rabbis, youth staff, lay and professional leaders throughout the Jewish community are, in fact, former USYers.
USY aims to foster a sense of Jewish identity and belonging, as well as to provide opportunities for personal growth, Jewish learning, spirituality, self-expression, community service and social involvement. In addition, USY seeks to engage our youth to contribute to society through the performing of mitzvot, in particular, through social action initiatives and community service.
USY prides itself on being a Zionist organization, building and strengthening our ties with Eretz Yisrael, the land and people of Israel. We provide opportunities for Jewish High School students to visit and explore Israel through a variety of excellent summer programs, as well as the Nativ College Leadership Program -a challenging academic year program in Israel dedicated to creating and inspiring the Conservative Jewish leaders of tomorrow.
The USY organization is divided into 17 regions across the United States and Canada, each one made up of chapters that run out of affiliated Conservative synagogues. The Pacific Northwest (Pinwheel) Region serves the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, as well as Washington, Oregon, and Idaho states.
Pinwheelers from across the region gather approximately six times a year at regional conventions where they participate in social, educational, religious, Israel-themed, and social action programming.
While USY caters to Jewish High School students, Kadima (the pre-USY group), founded as separate entity in 1964, provides Middle School youth with a meaningful relationship to their Judaism in an inclusive and welcoming environment. The emphasis is on fun and creative programming, aimed at encouraging social interactions between the youth. Pinwheel Region now has two Kadima conventions:“Winter Kadima Kinnus”, held the first weekend in December at Camp Solomon Schechter for youth grades 6-8 and Spring Kadima Kinnus in the beginning of May.