USCJ Announces Octavio Viramontes of San Antonio, TX as Winner of Its 2016 Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Award

USCJ Announces Octavio Viramontes of San Antonio, TX as Winner of Its 2016 Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Award

Posted on December 29, 2016

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) announced today that Octavio Viramontes, a lay leader in Congregation Agudas Achim of San Antonio, TX, is being awarded its 2016 Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Award. Mr. Viramontes received his award on Sunday, December 4th during the General Assembly of Kehillot meeting in New York City.

As a member of the congregation board, ritual committee, and its Youth Commission Chair, Mr. Viramontes led an effort to engage San Antonio’s largely unaffiliated Jewish Spanish-speaking population. He spearheaded and helped create a monthly Spanish language Kabbalat Shabbat service and dinner at the synagogue and secured the funding necessary to create a customized Spanish siddur, modeled after the Rabbinical Assembly’s Lev Shalem.

According to Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham of Congregation Agudas Achim, who nominated Mr. Viramontes for the award, the monthly service has brought in dozens of new congregants. “Octavio is an incredibly dedicated leader in our congregation. [He] has helped grow our Jewish Spanish speaking population who joined thanks to his vision in serving this underserved population,” he said.

Though he is now an involved member of the synagogue, Mr. Viramontes didn’t grow up observant. He married a Catholic woman, but after becoming more religious later in life he and his wife were “challenged to find the best way to raise our children in a strong relationship with Hashem, the world, and themselves,” he explained. They decided that this was best achieved through Conservative Judaism and Mr. Viramontes’s wife converted.

However, even after making the decision to raise their six children Jewish, the family had a difficult time connecting to the Jewish community in Mexico. They lived far from a synagogue and eventually decided to move to the United States to find a congregation. 

“The opportunity to get involved in the amazing transformation that our synagogue has gone through has been a true blessing, since one of the things that motivated [my family] to move was being part of a vibrant Jewish community and raise our children involved,” Mr. Viramontes said.

Shoshana S. Cardin, one of the most influential Jewish leaders of our time, established her namesake award on the occasion of the USCJ centennial in 2013, to recognize an emerging Jewish leader who is making a difference in strengthening and transforming Jewish life through the lens of Conservative Judaism. It carries a $5,000 stipend and the opportunity to connect with
other emerging Jewish leaders from across the continent through USCJ and its network of kehillot (Jewish communities inside and outside the walls of a synagogue) and leaders.

About USCJ

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism is a network of North American kehillot committed to a dynamic Judaism that is learned and passionate, authentic and pluralistic, joyful and accessible. USCJ creates the spiritual, intellectual, and managerial network that empowers its kehillot to fulfill their sacred mission and connects them with a common sense of community, shared mission and purpose. To learn more, visit