Conservative Movement CEO Rabbi Steven Wernick Stepping Down
The umbrella group of Conservative Judaism announced Wednesday that its leader will be stepping down from his position.
Rabbi Steven Wernick, who has served as CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism since 2009, will not seek a renewal of his contract when it expires in 2019, the movement announced on Wednesday.
“We are very grateful to Rabbi Wernick for his transformative leadership and vision over the past nine years,” USCJ international president Margo Gold said in a statement. “He has been a distinguished, respected and energetic leader. He has inspired USCJ’s lay leadership, executive team, our staff and many supporters in our work together.”
Wernick’s tenure included significant internal debate over the movement’s direction, particularly after the 2013 Pew Survey showed that Conservative Judaism was shrinking and aging faster than other denominations.
The issue of intermarriage was a significant point of division, as were questions over how the movement has addressed allegations of sexual assault in its youth groups and other programs over the decades.
Wernick also presided over significant layoffs amid the USCJ’s budget woes, caused by a decline in dues and weak fundraising.
The announcement of Wernick’s departure comes only days after the leader of the movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, also announced that she would not seek to renew her appointment.