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After Jewish media began publishing conference coverage with variations of the inflammatory JTA headline, “USY drops ban on interdating,” Facebook discussions lamented, “Another nail in the coffin of Conservative Judaism,” and “This year it’s a language shift, next year (or 5 years from now) that language disappears completely.” Others decried Conservative Judaism, with one saying, “United Synagogue has always moved policy and theology closer to its participants’ choices, rather than move participants closer to its policies and theology,” and another noting, “The movement is in the midst of a major identity crisis.” When a change of wording to a set of standards that affects a mere 100 teens is cause for a social media storm, all signs point to sensitive territory.

The standards allow the leaders to be visible models for the movement’s missions.

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the movement’s umbrella organization, turned 100 last year, but USY, the North American arm of its global youth movement (NOAM), was established in 1951.

The leadership standards, a set of behavior guidelines that grew organically alongside the youth group, are obligatory only for USY’s six international executive officers, the six officers from each of its 17 regions, and another 25 odd leaders on various executive committees.

NEW YORK (JTA) – United Synagogue Youth voted to relax its rules barring its teenage board members from dating non-Jews.

The amendment was adopted Monday in Atlanta at the annual international convention of the Conservative movement’s youth group.

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