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UN-UZ Archives | Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia
  • UN-UZ

UNION FOR REFORM JUDAISM (URJ).

Association of Reform or Liberal congregations in the Western Hemisphere. It was founded in 1873 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise whose primary purpose was to establish a seminary for the training of American rabbis; this was accomplished two years later with the founding of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. The URJ maintained its headquarters in Cincinnati until 1951, when the Berg Memorial House of Living Judaism in New York was opened as headquarters for the organization and all its affiliates.

The URJ maintained the Board of Delegates of American Israelites from 1878 until 1925 when it ceased to exist. The Board published the first Jewish census in the U.S. in 1880. It concerned itself throughout with the rights of Jews in foreign countries.

The primary purpose of the URJ and its affiliates is to service the constituent synagogues and temples. Currently there are more than 900 congregations with a total membership of about 1.5 million.

The chief legislative authority of the URJ is its Biennial General Assembly. Between assemblies, the executive board of 120 persons and the administrative committee of that board carry on policy-making functions. Various commissions deal with such programs as Jewish education, synagogue activities, and interfaith activities.

The URJ has organized three national affiliates: the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, founded in 1913, the National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods, founded in 1916, and the National Federation of Temple Youth, founded in 1939. Each carries on a full program of religious, cultural, educational, and social activities. In addition, the URJ has been affiliated with the National Association of Temple Secretaries, founded in 1943, an organization of professional temple executives, and the National Association of Temple Educators, founded in 1955. The URJ publications include the periodical American Judaism. The URJ operates 12 summer camps in the United States and Canada.

UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS OF AMERICA, WOMEN'S BRANCH.

National organization representing the women affiliated with Orthodox synagogues in the U.S. It was organized in 1923 to spread the understanding and observance of Orthodoxy, to instill an appreciation of traditional Judaism in young people, and to help Jewish women realize their roles as Jews, mothers, and members of the community. The Women’s Branch formed a kashruth committee, which sought to make kosher products available to the public. The Women’s Branch helped raise funds for dormitories at Yeshiva University and established the Hebrew Teachers Training School for Girls, now housed in the Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University.

UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS.

See Union for Reform Judaism.

Popularly known as the OU, or Orthodox Union.

On June 8, 1898, representatives of fifty Orthodox congregations met in New York to organize the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. The affiliate synagogues of the UOJCA list approximately 500,000 individuals on their membership rolls. The Union also serves as a representative body for an additional 250,000 Orthodox Jews who comprise other elements of Orthodoxy.

The UOJCA holds a biennial general convention, setting the policies of the organization and discussing the status and problems of Orthodox Judaism. The day-to-day work is carried on by national commissions, including Armed Forces, communal relations, community activities, education, Israel and overseas, Orthodox Jewish Life monthly magazine, kashruth, law and legislation, Orthodox Union Association, public relations, religious standards, synagogue relations, and youth activities. By far the most famous and wide-spread activity of the UOJCA is its kashruth program.

UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS.

See Russia.

UNITED HIAS SERVICE.

The Hebrew Sheltering Society and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, established to meet the needs of Jewish immigrants to the U.S., united in 1909 to form HIAS, the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society. In 1954, HIAS, the United Service for New Americans, and the migration services of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee consolidated into a single international migration agency, United Hias Service. United Hias Service is funded by Federations, welfare funds, membership, and individual contributions.

The Service locates friends and relatives through its global network of offices. It assists immigrants at every step of the journey, preparing documents and arranging transportation, offering a personal welcome and shelter upon arrival, and providing a plan for resettlement. It further helps the newcomer comply with government regulations and naturalization procedures. The Service intervenes with government authorities in cases of unjustified detention and deportation, and presses constantly for relaxation of immigration barriers all over the world.

UNITED JEWISH APPEAL.

Organization which raises money in the U.S. for the resettlement and rehabilitation of Jews in Israel and throughout the world and for humanitarian programs benefiting needy and troubled Jews in Israel and 33 other countries. Since its founding in 1939, the UJA has contributed to the rescue and resettlement of more than 4 million people, about half of them immigrants brought to Israel. To accomplish this, since its inception the UJA has collected more than $12 billion and distributed it to its beneficiary agencies.

Through United Jewish Appeal Inc., the UJA supports the Jewish Agency’s programs of immigrant absorption and human support services designed to improve the quality of life in Israel. These include initial resettlement services to new immigrants, such as Hebrew-language instruction, vocational training, and subsidized housing; special programs for disadvantaged youth; support of preschool and higher education; health and welfare aid; the establishment of kibbutzim and moshavim, and their support to the point of self-sufficiency. In 1979, the Jewish Agency also began a program called Project Renewal for the physical and social rehabilitation of the lives of immigrant families in distressed urban neighborhoods.

Operation Exodus was UJA’s special campaign to take Jews out of the former Soviet Union and settle them in Israel with freedom and dignity. Since 1990, more than 500,000 Soviet Jews have come to Israel.

Another UJA beneficiary is the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which operates in Israel and 33 other countries throughout the world. In Israel, it provides services for the physically and mentally handicapped and supports extensive programs on behalf of the elderly, as well as special daycare programs for infants and toddlers. Its life-support services among Jewish communities in other countries include food and clothing parcels, kosher meals, medical care, nursery and day schools, centers for senior citizens, and relief-in-transit for Jewish migrants from distressed areas. It also supports worldwide vocational training for Jewish youth through the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training (ORT).

In American Jewish communities, the annual fund raising campaigns support local and national programs as well as UJA-funded overseas services. Local programs include Jewish day schools, daycare, Y’s and community centers, vocational workshops, medical care, family counseling, youth guidance, home and institutional care for the elderly, aid to the indigent, and a full range of resettlement services for the incoming Jewish immigrants. Some 500 communities throughout the U.S. conduct annual fundraising campaigns on behalf of the UJA. A portion of the money is used for local need, and a portion goes to support the UJA’s overseas services. See United Jewish Communities.

UNITED JEWISH COMMUNITES (UJC).

An American Jewish umbrella organization representing 155 Jewish federations and 400 independent Jewish communities across North America. The UJC was formed in 1999 from the merger of the United Jewish Appeal, Council of Jewish Federations, and the United Israel Appeal.

UNITED KINGDOM.

See England.

UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was chartered by an Act of Congress in 1980, and was formally dedicated on April 22,1993, on the newly-renamed Raul Wallenberg Place SW, Washington, D.C.

The Museum is dedicated to presenting the history of the persecution and murder of six million Jews and millions of other victims of Nazi tyranny from 1933 to 1945. The Museum’s primary mission is to inform Americans about this tragedy, to remember those who suffered, and to inspire visitors to contemplate the moral implications of their choices and responsibilities as citizens in an interdependent world.

The Museum has amassed a collection of artifacts and oral histories for the Permanent Exhibition which authenticate the tragic and heroic story of the Holocaust. The Children’s Wall consists of thousands of tiles hand painted by American schoolchildren to record their impressions of the Holocaust. The Wall is dedicated to the 1.5 million innocent children who were murdered by Hitler’s Third Reich. The Education Department at the Museum creates a variety of learning experiences for children and youth groups. Educational materials and curriculum units are available for use outside the Museum. The museum attracts millions of people annually, and has become one of Washington’s most visited places.

UNITED SYNAGOGUE OF CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM.

Organization of Conservative synagogues in the U.S. and Canada. The United Synagogue was founded in 1913 by a group of rabbis and educators under the leadership of Solomon Schechter. Through a series of departments and commissions it aids affiliated congregations in solving religious, educational, cultural, and administrative problems. These institutions include the department of education, the department of youth activities, the National Academy for Adult Jewish Studies, the department of regional activities, the department of programs, the Commission on Social Action, the National Ramah Commission, and the department of synagogue administration.

Some 800 congregations, serving more than 1.5 million people, are affiliated with the United Synagogue. As the representative of Conservative Jewry in the U.S., it participates with delegates of Orthodox and Reform organizations in the Synagogue Council of America. The United Synagogue is closely associated with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and the Rabbinical Assembly of America. Close to fifty synagogues and groups belong to the Conservative, or Masorti, movement in Israel. Worldwide, conservative congregations are affiliated with the World Council of Synagogues.

The Women’s League for Conservative Judaism is the organization of Conservative synagogue sisterhoods.

The United Synagogue Youth is the national organization of teenagers (ages 13 through 17) affiliated with Conservative congregations, launched in December 1951. It presently consists of more than 500 chapters and seventeen regions. United Synagogue Youth sponsors twenty regional conferences, ten local summer camps, leadership training institutes, and a national convention annually. A two-month Israel Pilgrimage is conducted each summer.

United Synagogue Youth’s purpose is to provide high school youth with “an awareness of the essential harmony between the ideals and traditions of Judaism and American democracy,” as expressed by the Conservative movement.

The National Youth Commission of the United Synagogue of America guides and supervises United Synagogue Youth activity.

UNITED SYNAGOGUE YOUTH (USY).

See United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

UNVEILING.

See Burial and Mourning.

URIS, LEON (1924-2003).

American novelist; one of the best-selling writers of the post-World War II era. His novel Exodus depicts the birth of Israel; Mila 18 tells the story of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, while QB7 deals with Nazi atrocities during the war.

URUGUAY.

Located on the Atlantic coast, between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is the smallest of the South American republics. Its Jewish community, however, is the third largest and one of the most highly organized in Latin America. In 2006, it numbered about 23,000 in a total population of 3.3 million. The majority live in Montevideo, where they are engaged in the manufacture and sale of furs, furniture, clothing, and oil.

The Jewish community achieved its high degree of organization during World War II. At that time Germany was interested in gaining control of Uruguay, and Nazi agents began to spread effective antisemitic propaganda in the country. Jews were forced to unite in order to combat this menace. Uruguay’s break with Germany in 1943 put a stop to the antisemitic agitation, and the peaceful conditions of this most democratic of South American republics were restored. Uruguayan Jewry did not relax, however, and its energies were channeled to work within the community. One of the results of its efforts was an extensive educational system, which included eleven schools in Montevideo and three in the provinces. More than 1,000 Jewish children attended those institutions. Zionist activity, too, was vigorous. Montevideo’s Jewish press was widely read. Two Yiddish dailies, as well as periodicals of Jewish interest, in Spanish and German, have been published. Two of these, in Spanish, were for younger readers. Many organizations maintained libraries and arranged cultural activities. A Jewish daily radio program and a weekly program devoted to Jewish scholars, writers, and artists were broadcast. All sectors were represented in the Central Jewish Community of Uruguay. The Central Committee has been the government-recognized spokesperson for Uruguayan Jewry.

USSISHKIN, MENACHEM MENDEL (1863-1941).

Zionist leader. In 1920, he settled in Palestine, and as chief of the Zionist Commission, he forced the purchase of the Emek, or Valley, of Jezreel swamp lands, now lush farms and orchards. This lifelong fixed interest in agricultural settlement of the Land of Israel became Ussishkin’s duty in 1923, as president of the Keren Kayemet, the Jewish National Fund. Until his death, eighteen years later, the Keren Kayemet, under his guidance, raised large sums of money and bought large tracts of land in Israel, now teeming with life.

UTAH.

Most of Utah’s 4,000 Jews live in Salt Lake City. Jews first arrived in 1854, among those who went west looking for gold. The first non-Mormon governor of Utah was a Jew, Simon Bamberger. Salt Lake City has a Jewish Council, a Jewish Welfare Fund, one Reform congregation, and one Conservative congregation.

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