Local woman named USCJ regional president

BY SARAH WILSON, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

After roughly four years of being the president-elect, the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism (USCJ) recently installed Mueriel Carp as the new Mid-Continent Region President.

The installment took place at the first-ever Tri-Regional Biennial Convention in Chicago in November and included the Midwest, Mid-Continent and the Great Lakes & Rivers Region.

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The convention is meant to bring together Conservative Jews from other regions to not only learn from one another, but also to create lasting relationships and connections within the community.

Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose, Congregation B’nai Amoona’s senior rabbi, formally installed Carp at the convention, followed by the Shehekianu blessing. Rose said he could not think of a better person for the position than Carp, mostly because of her love for the Jewish community and admiration for the institution of the Jewish synagogue.

“Obviously, she is a person of great ability, very sharp intellect and a person who is fantastic at organizing not only events but organizing people,” Rose said. “She has been involved with the synagogue for a number of years and a bona fide Conservative Jew.”

Carp was raised Conservative and has been very active with United Synagogue Youth, in addition to being chair for B’nai Amoona’s youth commission. Later, she was appointed to the international board for USCJ.

“My goals are to continue our Day of Learning, which is something that was just instituted these past two years,” Carp said. “The Day of Learning was a program that demonstrated that in a one-day program, it is possible to bring back concrete ideas to your own synagogue and have an opportunity to interact with leaders of other synagogues. I am also going to concentrate on board training and going to customize it for the synagogue and personalize it for the individual.”

Carp said Conservative Judaism is a movement that changes and that has progressed a lot through the years. When she celebrated her bat mitzvah in a Conservative/Orthodox synagogue years ago, a Sunday night ceremony with a closed Ark was her only option.

Years later, her daughter, Elizabeth, was the first female at a Conservative shul in St. Louis to have an aliyah at her bat mitzvah.

“This sort of relates to what’s been going on at the same time to a female being elected the head of the rabbinical assembly,” Carp said. “That goes hand in hand with how I talk about Conservative Judaism as a movement that changes. Here, I couldn’t even be bat mitzvahed on a Saturday, and now we can all lead the way to having a female rabbi. If you think about it, that’s huge.”

One challenge Carp addressed was the large landmass of the Mid-Continent Region, which can be difficult because everyone is spread out. The region consists of 48 synagogues, from Canada to Mexico and from Denver to New Orleans.

“We’re three countries, two time zones and one region,” Carp said. “Because of electronic communication, we’ve been able to really stay in touch in a more efficient way than could have been done years ago. That’s not to say we don’t have face-to-face congressional visits. We do have both of those, but because of the proximity of where people live, we have to enhance it with other methods.”

Rose said he looks forward to seeking out Carp’s counsel and advice, and he thinks she will take the region to greater heights.

“I believe very strongly that she has the ability to bring people together,” Rose said. “She is a wise woman, and we feel blessed to have her in our organization. We will continue to deepen and grow.”