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What is Kadima?
While International Kadima includes youth in grades 6-8, Far West region has found it beneficial for Kadima to be garnered towards grades 4-6. This allows 7th and 8th graders to begin their USY careers with veteran USYers as their role models. After “graduating” from Kadima, youth move into USY, which is split into two groups: Jr. USY (7th-8th grade) and Sr. USY (9th-12th grade).
Kadima hosts activities and programs designed to meet the needs and interests of pre-USYer aged youth. It includes social and recreational activities, as well as religious and cultural programs. Kadima enhances Religious Education and the Jewish way of life. It serves as both a Zionist organization, attempting to create a bond between American youth and Israel, and as a means of involving Jewish youth in the synagogue to help build the Jewish community of tomorrow. It begins the process of helping the youth to develop an individual identity and bond with their Jewish culture.
The Kadima program is run out of the International USY office in New York. However, many Regions have Regional Kadima fieldworkers to coordinate programming amongst the many Kadima chapters and to promote Kadima in areas where is has not yet developed. Far West Region has a Youth Commissioner who helps promote and coordinate Kadima programming. In addition, we have a Regional Field worker for Kadima. The fieldworker helps to coordinate Regional Kadima Shabbatonim, Kadima days, and the Annual Kadima Kinnus at Camp Ramah. Kadima is an integral part of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s youth program as it serves to prepare the youth for the USY experience.
History of Kadima
United Synagogue youth was initially designed for Jewish teenagers. In 1964, the need for a
“pre-USY” program was realized. This program would provide informal educational activities to supplement the congregational religious school programs. It was hoped that pre-USY,
“by teaching Judaism, its values and practices through programming, publication and activities… [Would] become an effective ‘feeder-operation’ for United Synagogue Youth.”
In 1965, Hagalil Region in Northern New Jersey sponsored the first pre-USY program with a Regional encampment for pre-USY age youth. By 1969, other Regions began developing their own pre-USY programs. Therefore, in 1969, Kadima was adopted as the title for the International organization of pre-USY youth. The Hebrew word kadima means,
“something which proceeds,” which reflects this organization’s function as a pre-USY group.