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Old 01-26-2014, 10:38 AM
 
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I read a fascinating article from a highly respected author, Berel Wein, who seems to transcend religious movements and simply speak the truth. This one is on the future of Conservative Judiasm, with some good insight into it's history as well. I'd be curious which points inside this article are less than reasonable, as it all sounded pretty reasonable to me.

But it's pretty biting stuff, so my intention is not to create trouble but rather seek to understand if the comments he makes are correct. The link to the article is below, and here is a snippet:

Quote:
If Conservative leadership would have spent energy and creativity in preserving Jewish values, families, a spirit of the Sabbath and a sense of loyalty to fellow Jews instead of aping current social trends that were doomed to spiritual obsolescence, the movement would be stronger and vital today.

Instead it seems doomed to extinction as the title of Gordis’ article indicates. I feel that it is not an exaggeration to state that the failure of the Conservative movement to maintain itself over the past decades has contributed greatly to the sorry state of non-belief, disloyalty and lack of spirituality, which characterizes current American Jewish society.

Gordis rightly puts the blame for this failure on the spiritual leadership of the movement, which made few demands on its congregants and succumbed to every societal whim of the time. A religion, which in essence stands for nothing and allows everything, cannot in the long run remain viable and alive.
The Dangerous Trend in the Fringes of the Modern Orthodox Jewish World » Matzav.com - The Online Voice of Torah Jewry
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Old 01-26-2014, 12:14 PM
 
Location: Long Island
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While I have serious reservations about the Conservative movement, I don't think the article is very accurate. While much of what he describes as happening is certainly happening, it is in his reasoning why that I disagree. Most of the Conservative Jews I know are, in fact, dedicated believers who find great spirituality in Judaism. And the leadership does make great demands on the membership; Jews in Conservative synagogues are called on to keep Shabbat, to keep kosher, and to follow halakhah. Much of Rabbi Wein's criticism seems to be directed more at the Reform movement rather than the Conservative, but that seems to be a distinction that is often lost on those who don't belong either group.

But the Conservative movement is dying, and there are a host of reasons for it, some are the fault of the movement and some are the fault of its membership. While the movement teaches that all of Jewish law is binding on all of us, its method of making decisions and practice of issuing a plurality of decisions can create confusion and allows for an environment of ambiguity. But a Conservative Jews are charged with observing halakhah in all areas of their lives. That many do not and openly choose to go against Jewish law is the fault of the individual people, and not of the movement or the leadership.
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Old 01-26-2014, 01:11 PM
 
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Quote:
But a Conservative Jews are charged with observing halakhah in all areas of their lives. That many do not and openly choose to go against Jewish law is the fault of the individual people, and not of the movement or the leadership.
Does the movement/leadership insist that:
All temples have an acceptable (halachic) mechitzah? That davening be conducted in Hebrew from the traditional Siddur? That only Shomrei Shabbos count in a minyan?
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Old 01-26-2014, 01:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iwishiwerethin View Post
Does the movement/leadership insist that:
All temples have an acceptable (halachic) mechitzah? That davening be conducted in Hebrew from the traditional Siddur? That only Shomrei Shabbos count in a minyan?
I think you know those answers, Iwish.

JB, that was a very informative answer. You're saying we need to separate the movement from the people who follow it when looking at its approach to Halacha. So how do the lay leaders and rabbis get their congregants to follow closer to a Conservative hashkafo than a reform one?
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Old 01-26-2014, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Long Island
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iwishiwerethin View Post
Does the movement/leadership insist that:
All temples have an acceptable (halachic) mechitzah? That davening be conducted in Hebrew from the traditional Siddur? That only Shomrei Shabbos count in a minyan?
Quote:
Originally Posted by theflipflop View Post
I think you know those answers, Iwish.
You both know that the Conservative movement makes halakhic decisions differently than the Orthodox movement. The decisions they make are expected to be followed by the membership.

Quote:
JB, that was a very informative answer. You're saying we need to separate the movement from the people who follow it when looking at its approach to Halacha. So how do the lay leaders and rabbis get their congregants to follow closer to a Conservative hashkafo than a reform one?
I think we always need to separate leadership from the membership when looking at this; we all know that there are many Orthodox Jews who willingly ignore halakhah after all.

And I don't know how to get people to follow it; I'm considered a bit of an oddity in my congregation and look at things differently than most, and most of the people who agree with my outlook are the older members who grew up either as Orthodox or Conservative Jews in the 40's and 50's. Honestly, I think it's just human nature to look for the easiest way to do things and look for loopholes where ever you can (besides, it's our nature to argue things. ). And, if we look at the bigger picture, this isn't a prolem that affects Conservative Jews, or Jews in general, alone: Many religions, and denominations within those religions, are struggling with declining numbers and the lack of conviction in ritual life.
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Old 01-26-2014, 04:15 PM
 
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So I wonder why the Conservative movement would die out faster than the reform movement. I rather suspect it has something to do with the ambiguity of the Conservative "platform." I guess that's really just a paraphrase of what JB and the article in the OP said. At least reform is unapologetic in their abandonment if normative Halacha. Orthodox is unapologetic in their desire to hold by Halacha. What is Conservative holding by?
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Old 01-26-2014, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Long Island
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I'm sure you'll figure it out, TFF.


L'shalom.
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Old 01-26-2014, 04:54 PM
 
Location: small Southern town balabusta
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I think JB expressed very articulate thoughts which I agree with. (I'm sorry my posts here aren't more substantive, but I am in school full time and stay up most of the night writing philosophical arguments.)

The Rabbi sets the tone for the congregation. I know others have said at times that Conservative Judaism is characterized by a lack of respect for Rabbis, but I can tell you in the congregations that I have been in, our Rabbis are beloved, trusted, respected, admired and are the go-to person for everything. This is only a few cases, true, as I didn't grow up Jewish. Sometimes, though, it helps to look at examples of good things and how they are supposed to work.

Kudos to you, JB, for being articulate and eloquent.

Do I notice things (or people, I should say) in all movements that need improvement? Yes. Am I going to air it here? No.

Last edited by 1+1=5; 01-26-2014 at 05:13 PM..
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Old 01-26-2014, 05:20 PM
 
Location: Eretz Yisrael
21,353 posts, read 24,079,680 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iwishiwerethin View Post
Does the movement/leadership insist that:
All temples have an acceptable (halachic) mechitzah?
Wasn't always that way.

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Old 01-26-2014, 05:26 PM
 
Location: Eretz Yisrael
21,353 posts, read 24,079,680 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iwishiwerethin View Post
Does the movement/leadership insist that:
That davening be conducted in Hebrew from the traditional Siddur?
Sure why not. Is a siddur having translations to Yiddish anymore traditional than one that contains English?
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