Thank you for publishing “Conservative Movement Faces Allegations of Sexual Abuse” (Dec. 8).
I have recently learned that our leaders are “unaware” of what has been described as an “underground” point system being used by our USYers. I suggest that the United Synagogue Youth arm of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism becomes better informed of this “game” and use it as a teaching opportunity for our teens and youth. There is indeed an underground “point system” known to USYers that involves peer pressure and keeping track of how many people you can “hook up” with and how many points each hook-up is worth depending upon rank (member, chapter board member, chapter president, regional board member and regional president, international board member and international president; and yes, there is a category for staff members). I understand that the term “hook-up” means kissing or making out. To deny that a “point system” exists is irresponsible.
This is concerning on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start. Yes, we want to encourage our children to enjoy getting together at chapter events, regional weekends and international conferences. Being teens, they are going to be interested in normal teen things, and we can use these experiences to showcase what it means to be “objectifying” the act of “hooking up” and how Judaism teaches us to respect ourselves and others, as we are created in the image of Hashem.
What is considered OK? Do we expect our children to be shomer negiah (observant of touch)? And if not, then what is appropriate? There should be a zero tolerance of any type of sexual misconduct taught to our youth on every level, and I call upon our leadership to define what is appropriate and what is not.
The USCJ and USY executive directors and regional staff members should prepare guidelines for the USY advisers so that when we hear of any conduct that is against our policies, there is a clear definition and consequence for how it should be addressed. There is an immediate opportunity for this to take place, as there will be hundreds of USYers coming together in Chicago at the end of this month for the USY International Convention.
I hope that we can bring the light to this sensitive topic and prevent our community from becoming victims or hurting others.