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Getting to know conservative Judaism

I never thought about my lack of Judaic knowledge until recently. I know Im an am haaretz in terms of scholarship and couldnt pick up a gemara and just lain from it, but what Im really talking about is the fact that I know nothing of the Haskala and nothing about conservative Judaism. I know what I learned in yeshiva — that pretty much everyone Modern Orthodox and to the left on the spectrum arent real Jews and they have no idea how to learn or poskin on anything. I also remember the frummies making fun of the Modern Orthodox in town kids because their parents drove to shul on Shabbos but thats for a different time.

Regardless of what affiliation I stood closest to, I grew up under the umbrella category of orthodoxy. Sure we watched TV on Shabbos and ate dairy out. I attended yeshiva and associated almost exclusively with Orthodox people until after I graduated college and even then, most of the folks I knew that were less observant than orthodox were becoming more religious, or on the right side of those factions. For instance I remember this kid in Albany who wore a yarmulke and tzitzis everywhere, knew how to daven and was learning how to learn, but was a staunch conservative Jew it made no sense to me. I thought conservative Jews werent religious, yet heres this dude that would be considered orthodox in most frimmy circles, but is affiliated with the conservative movement.

To break it down, frummies look frum. Modern Orthodox (“MO”) women wear pants and the men wear white yarmulkes and conservative folks drive to shul, Beyond that, its a different religion. Am I right or wrong?

I am one of those who wants to see whats out there. I have no interest in advocating the 1950 Conservative Rabbinic Assembly, temporary teshuva that stated one could drive to shul and back. I have no interest in becoming someone other than the person I am, but I have an interest in understanding different sects of Judaism, Sure, it started from wanting to make fun of them. I still do, but what I really want is to understand their philosophy and through understanding maybe we can learn to like each other a little more.

Its a chillul Hashem, its apikorsus, its wrong, its not FRUM satire, its frei, this blog is going downhill, blah blah blah. Sure I heard it all before. I wrote about going to an egalitarian minyan or that renewal thing which I wasnt down with but when you break it down, I think it would be properly construed as a mitzvah because nothing in Judaism is set in stone and I cant see anything greater than trying to make sense of all the stuff that is automatically discarded by orthodox Jews.

With that said, while in LA I stayed with some blogger friends of mine who are conservative. I was bugging the dude trying to get him to admit that hes orthodox just based on the keeping kosher, Shabbos and wearing a yarmulke and tzitzis everywhere he goes. He has the look of a modern orthodox Jew, but while he has his run of the mill seforim, he loves to talk about Kaplan, Shechter and Hechsel (the latter we learned last night.) Its odd, but I found it fascinating. I also found it interesting that he thinks that modern orthodoxy is actually what the Conservative movement was like when it was founded, and that most modern orthodox Jews align more with the conservative movement in terms of their practice rather than the orthodox.

You see, within the non-frum world, affiliation is a big deal. I never even thought of the word until recently. Just like the yeshivish folks call Avi Weiss non-orthodox, this guy also acknowledges that Avi Weiss is trying to call himself orthodox for the shock value when he is really conservative.

I began to think a lot more about conservative Judaism after my hosts took me to a chavrusa learning session at Temple Beth Am, a beautiful conservative shul in the Pico Robertson section of LA. The second I walked in I thought about how frum everyone looked. There were a bunch of Rabbis or rabbinical students in the room and they all looked like they walked out of YU or any other modern orthodox program and one even looked like he had some yeshivish in him. As you know I am all about looks, if they look frum they must be and if their accents sound frum, they must be. Sure they used a tuf rather than a suf, but they didnt have these classic conservative sing song accents that I love.

There was one girl wearing a yarmulke and there was one guy and another person who we debated over dinner about whether or not she was a he or he was a she. The yarmulke really threw me off. Oh and did I mention everyone wore a normal yarmulke besides for me, knitted towards the front of the head? None of that throw-it-on-back-of-the head BS or satin yarmulkes from Herb’s bar mitzvah in 1953. It all looked so weird to me and shattered my stereotypes of conservative Jews.

Sure I had to ask some questions. Was the kitchen kosher? Yes. Did they use a microphone? Of course but electricity has never been proved to be fire. Then how come everyone drives to shul? The Rabbis dontWhat do you call the husband of a Rabbi? No one has any idea, because the only female rabbi in the room is married to a rabbi. Why do you feel the need to wear a tallis all of the time? Tallesim are minhag.

Other questions I always wondered about conservative folks.

Why do they wear their talesim like scarves?

Why do they have to have everyone wear those fruit white teepee yarmulkes?

Why do the bar mitzvah kids sound like such douches with all that sing song stuff?

Do conservative people have their own shulchan aruch?

Do frummies ever show up at conservative shul other than bar mitzvahs?

Did you know that frummies say you cant step foot in a conservative shul?

Who writes your Torahs? Orthodox Soferim?

Do you have your own shechita?

What are your thoughts on Glatt?

Are there any conservative people even reading this?

I wonder if I am going to lose readers because I am open minded and want to explore. For the record, I am just as curious about Chassidim and other sects of orthodoxy as I am curious about sects of non-orthodoxy, its just not as easy to poke around in those places.

{ 154 comments… add one }
  • Conserva-Jew June 8, 2010, 2:44 AM

    As a Conservative Jew (though as a liberal I hate the term…) I’ll give some answers as best I can. As a caveat, I should say that I’m Canadian Conservative, and we tend to be closer to orthodox than our cousins south of the board (we have a saying: Canadian Reform is like American Conservative, American Reform is Canadian Presbyterian…)

    Okay, here we go:

    Why do they wear their talesim like scarves?
    – Poor education

    Why do they have to have everyone wear those fruit white teepee yarmulkes?
    – An easy way to spot the ‘actual conservative’ (ie follows Conservative rules) from the people who actually live reform or secular lifestyles, but for whatever reason wouldn’t dare set foot in a reform shul. Naturally, these people don’t wear kippot outside shul, and thus need to borrow the cheap one from the congregation.

    Why do the bar mitzvah kids sound like such douches with all that sing song stuff?
    – I blame USY

    Do conservative people have their own shulchan aruch?
    – Ours is by Rabbi Yosef Karo. What about yours? (kidding)

    Do frummies ever show up at conservative shul other than bar mitzvahs?
    – Depends on how you define frummies. Usually you’ll get some BT kids who are at shul with their Conservative families, but rarely besides that. However, most of your regular contingent (only about 10% of the congregation, but almost all of the shul’s leadership and regular attendees) are pretty indistinguishable from Morthos (kippa, tzitzi, shomer shabbos, kosher, though almost never shomer negia)

    Did you know that frummies say you cant step foot in a conservative shul?
    – It’s debatable

    Who writes your torahs? Orthodox Soferim?
    – Sometimes, because they’re cheaper. But there are also Conservative Soferim. The scroll is the same (promise!)

    Do you have your own shchita?
    – No, we use the Orthodox ones. I think ideologically we could, but it just makes sense to use the Orthodox ones, especially since our shul hosts a lot of community events and is rented out as a kosher banquet hall to supplement revenue

    What are your thoughts on Glatt?
    – I don’t know the exact ruling, but see above

    Are there any conservative people even reading this?
    – Hells yes

  • Moshe June 8, 2010, 3:07 AM

    Hey Heshy, this has got to be my favorite article by you ever. I’m frum as you might say, but I grew up a bit iffy, more towards the conservative . We ate out dairy, watched some TV, the whole shpeil. I do think that the way the “Conserva Jew” described Canadian levels of observance to be true in regard to America. I’ve been all around the conservative shuls and it seems the rabbi and a few respected members are the only ones who are actually educated. That being said, the atmosphere was great and the folks were nice, but I’ve gathered that the conservative movement in America is straying towards the Reform side more than the other. None of my conservative friends seem to know what the conservatives stand for-on anything, Kashrut, Shabbos, whatever. I really love this article, and your desire to expand your mind. I think the fact that you are worried you might lose readers says alot about the state of us Jews. Some of the greatest Jewish minds practiced Kiruv, and we all need to remember that we are all Jews, Kol Yisroel Chaverim. Only when the Jews are unified, B’lev Echad, will we merit to see Eliyahu come soon and fast. Keep up the great work Heshy.

  • Julie June 8, 2010, 3:41 AM

    It looks like Canadian Conservative Judaism isn’t much different from American Conservative Judaism but what you need to remember is that American Conservative Judaism involves somewhat of a wide range. Going to one shul and being like “this is whack!” doesn’t mean anything, it could’ve been the Conservative shul in town that other locals in the movement consider “the shul they wouldn’t set foot in” due to one reason or another (too lenient, etc.).

    I’ve been to a shul where they like, jammed on electric guitars and crap and it felt like I was had ended up at some weird church. But there are also shuls that have services virtually indistinguishable from most O/MO shuls except for the fact that men and women sit together.

    Among the regulars: lots of kippahs, some tzitzi, keeps kosher, no shomer negiah, and “shomer Shabbos” is interpreted differently by EVERYONE which makes it a huge pain in the ass.

  • gostevero June 8, 2010, 3:48 AM

    Recently I read “Emet Ve-Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism”. I too was curious to know what these “bad Jews” are all about (I say that b/c thats how I was indoctrinated).I was truly unimpressed . The reason I was curious is most of the the conservative jews I know are pretty much happy , well rounded people, while the yeshivish people I know seem more … stressed ? I’m not sure if thats a good word , but definitely not as content in life. I try not to view other Jews by sect , b/c nowadays the lines are pretty blurry. I have also had the conversation with conservative rabbis ,(From JTS) about why they consider themselves Conservative… I mean the keep Shabbos ,Kosher, tzizis , Tefilin, ect. The answer I was given was that the fact that they would preside over a mixed congregation really labels them as conservative, which I think is pretty lame. I have no beef with conservative jews at all , in fact , I like them better , they seem more inclusionary and less judgmental…which is more than can say for the frum/yeshivish world, who bedevils anything that is even slightly different (hence the kids at risk crisis). The problem I have is with some of the doctrine. Women getting Aliyahs? I can deal with that , and Ali pi Halacha , there is pretty much nothing wrong with it as long as there isn’t a tznius issue. The issue I have is with Homosexuality. Now please understand , I am not a homophobe by any means , I have gay friends , and I believe that people should live life happy , or dont live at all. That being said , dont say Judaism says its ok , and when a Rabbi marries them in a “commitment ceremony” they are ligitmizing it to ppl it in the eyes of the Torah , which is grossly inaccurate . Besides that and the fact that I was so disappointed with the mission statement of conservative Judaism, i genuinely like Conservative Jews probably more than the yeshivish Community as a whole. As a people , Our Judaism was Highjacked , by ppl who are exclusionary, and ignorant of the world around them. Are we not the Kohanim of the world? If we are , we have an obligation to be a part of it. Judaism is a kind , inclusionary religon who welcomes ppl with open Arms. Dinst Hillele tell the dude who stood up on one foot , and he told him that the whole Torah Is love you fellow man as you would love yourself? The problem in the yeshivish world is they are teaching kids to be good jews and not good ppl (I.e its ok to lkie on your tax returns as long as u daven 3 times)In order to be a good jew you must be a good person first.When I go into that world , many time I encounter ,Materialistic, racist, Sexist Bigots who are “great jews” but pretty crapy people with horrible manners and a sense of entitelment , that I cant stomach , much less be around.Then again what do I know ? Im cultrually yeshivish……lol

    • Anon Emoose June 8, 2010, 10:54 AM

      Read the tshuva by the CJLS – the official position of conservative Judaism is that homosexual “marriages” should not be performed. The big difference between Orthodoxy and Conservative Judaism is the execution of halchaic decisions, whereby, even though the movement may say “X” is wrong, as long as there is a noted minority opinion, any conservative Rabbi may follow the minority.

    • Anonymous June 10, 2010, 12:59 AM

      Just curious, have you actually heard any Orthdodox rabbis who said it’s fine to lie on your tax returns?

      • Heshy Fried June 10, 2010, 2:26 AM

        No, but when my rosh yeshiva told the folks who worked for the yeshiva that they have to start taking taxes out of our paychecks I took that as a clue.

  • Jewish Ideas Daily June 8, 2010, 5:07 AM
  • Vivian June 8, 2010, 6:01 AM

    Love this particular blog, Heshy, you are doing great work, such a mitsvah.
    I am a progressive jew yet I am Shomer Negia, full kosher in the house, eat out Milchik, no tv on Shabbat, attend services on Erev Shabbat and Shabbat morning, try to daven 3 times a day, many of our Rabbis are starting to wear tzitzit all the time, is Reform outside the US becoming more Conservative? Or even more MO?

  • Chris_B June 8, 2010, 7:34 AM

    I’m Conservative on paper but somewhere between C&O in practice now that I go to Chabad instead of the local conservative place.

    I also found it interesting that he thinks that modern orthodoxy is actually what the Conservative movement was like when it was founded,

    I heard exactly the same thing from an old Orthodox guy I hang with every Friday night.

    Why do they have to have everyone wear those fruit white teepee yarmulkes?

    Why do you guys wear black soup bowls? I guess its just tribal identification markings. Personally I wear knit ones, color matched to my outfit but thats probably because my Rabbi is from Israel.

    But you forgot the biggest question: Why mixed seating? The answer is simple: we are not afraid of women.

    Besides that I like what gostevero said.

  • Anonymous June 8, 2010, 7:38 AM

    Great post…just a thought about the tallit as a scarf thing. no one at my shul does that…and I always imagined that was a Reform thing.

    Keep learning…it will only make you a better person…and will always give you a more educated satire. 🙂

  • Sergey Kadinsky June 8, 2010, 9:20 AM

    I’m always curious to learn about other Jewish groups, but at the end of the day, I have my standards, and I remain loyal to them.

  • Little Pom's Mom June 8, 2010, 9:27 AM

    I’m not Conservative, but we did visit several Conservative shul’s before settling in at our current Reform congregation. I was just having a conversation this past Shabbat with some MO friends of ours who say that they think the Conservative movement is dying out and that Reform is becoming more traditional in it’s place. It was their opinion (and one that I don’t necessarily disagree with) that eventually there will be 3 main Jewish affiliations: Orthodox/MO, which encompasses those who are ritually and theologically conservative; Reform, which is slowly becoming more ritually conservative while maintaining it’s theological liberalism, and plain-old secular Jews who really don’t care about either one. It was an interesting theory and I’d be intrigued to hear what your Conservative readers think of it…especially since they seem to be acknowledging a trend towards Orthodoxy already, with a few (mostly gender-related) exceptions.

  • Yosh June 8, 2010, 9:29 AM

    Having grown up in a Conservative schul, become frum (Israel yeshiva and all), and ended up occasionally going to a big MO schul when visiting my in-laws… I’ve been struck by how similar the big MO schul is to the Conservative schul I grew up in. Except for the separate seating, I can’t see any substantial differences.

  • Anonymous June 8, 2010, 9:44 AM

    does the conservative movement believe that the torah was g-d given? what do they think of the mesorah and rabbinic authorities of the talmud? do they believe in the 13 ikarim? at what point do social trends take precedence over halacha? (e.g. mixed seating ). im thinking that the main differences between conservative and mo are ideological. whats their conversion process about? what of intermarriage? what do they do to curb it? what of homosexual unions? better yet, gay and lesbian rabbis? really?! from what i understand, conservative used to mean a balanced approach to halacha meaning that while you kept all of halacha per-se , you left it open to interpretation for a more lenient outcome. the acceptance of a well balanced secular yet halachically valid jew. (wait did i just define modern orthodoxy?) on the other hand, conservative today is floundering because most people dont like the middle of the road approach, either the youngsters are moving towards the left due to lack of appreciation of halacha(true for most of the movements youth) or they are moving to the right due to a more defined method of serving g-d(a minority). thus conservative is slowly moving towards the left trying to keep those that still have a semblance of respect for Judaism yet are more egalitarian and respectful of modern cultural protocol (homosexuals for example). what we have left is what orthodox rabbis said would happen with the conservative movement. confusion.

  • no nym June 8, 2010, 10:10 AM

    There is a “conservative shulchan aruch”, Isaac Klein’s guide to jewish religious practice. In practice however, my conservative rabbi almost never references this book or official conservative positions in general, citing mishna berura instead. I’ve also known conservative rabbis to posken directly from the talmud. While there is a big range among conservative shuls, my impression having grown up is that most of them are pretty traditional. The people who run the programs are usually more traditional, and the mass ofthe congregation less so. The old joke at my shul was that it was a conservative synagogue, with an orthodox rabbi, and a reform congregation…

  • Anonymous June 8, 2010, 10:27 AM

    I think Conservative Judaism is the (North) American version of Historical Positive Judaism of 19th century Europe. Whereas Modern Orthodox Judaism accepts the authority of the Talmud and commentators. So ideologically, the two are quite different.

    I agree completely with the first poster about the difference between American and Canadian Jews. Just count the number of American Reform day schools and the Canadian ones and you’ll agree too.

    • Chris_B June 8, 2010, 10:43 AM

      Conservative Judaism (supposedly) accepts the authority of the Talmud & commentators but does not view the Halacha as dead. We are given the Torah that we may live by it in our present lives while grounded in the teachings of our scholars.

      • Anonymous June 8, 2010, 11:00 AM

        Exactly. But Conservative Judaism is willing to change the halachah as described the Talmud and the commentators if the times necessitate it (Historical Positive).
        But Modern Orthodoxy is not willing. Like all of Orthodox Judaism, It thinks that some aspects of halachah are immutable.
        What you refer to as ‘dead halachah’, MO would call ‘halachah set in stone’.

        I don’t think any branch of halachically observant Judaism thinks the laws are dead. They all agree that halachah is fluid, the question is where the fluidity exists.

  • Former Conservative June 8, 2010, 10:40 AM

    “Do conservative people have their own shulchan aruch?”

    A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice by Isaac Klein

    “What are your thoughts on Glatt?”

    They don’t require it

  • Yochanan June 8, 2010, 12:25 PM

    The non-Orthodox have elevated Talit wearing to an art. Just like the Dalai Lama is always pictured with his red and yellow robe, a Conservative rabbi must have his Talit ready for the photo shoot.

    • Former Conservative June 8, 2010, 12:52 PM

      And Avi Weiss!

  • Anon June 8, 2010, 12:56 PM

    My cuz is in JTS and has a beard, tzizis and all that. He’s definitely frummer than me and I consider myself Orthodox. The lines are so blurred especially in NY where many Conservative Jews do keep Shabbos and Kosher the same way most MO Liberals do.

  • Tamara June 8, 2010, 1:29 PM

    Since you are talking about us I figured I should chime in. First, we had fun hanging with you in LA and are glad we threw you for a loop. Our shul is definitely unique in that it’s sort of the shul that all the AJU faculty, rabbinic students and the like attend. I mean, the chavrusa you went to is run by the assistant dean of rabbinics at AJU.

    Anyway, I hate the scarf thing too which is why I have a FULL sized white tallit that is hand painted making it not so frummy :). I do hate wearing a kippah, it doesn’t sit right with me (no pun intended) which is odd because I grew up in Conservative very young and then very Reform during Bat Mitvah years. I did finally find a little kippah that I like enough to put on ONLY when I do an aliyah :).

    Next time you’re in LA we are going to drag you to Saturday services. We can arrange a place so you don’t have to drive like us bad Jews 😉

  • Anonymous June 8, 2010, 2:06 PM

    I’m a BT but on shabbos I go to a Conservative shul because I’d have to walk many miles to get to an Orthodox shul. I daven 3 times a day and keep kashrut, and I’m against mixed seating and having women on the bimah. I definitely classify myself as Orthodox, but I’m still stuck in the Conservative world because of where I live. During the week I daven with a Modern Orthodox minyan, and really the only difference compared to the conservative shul I go to is the mechitzah. My shul reads full kriyah (unlike the triennial cycle that most Conservative shuls use), and we don’t hold by the tshuva that any hard cheese is kosher. However, my shul is certainly on the right. At the other conservative shul in my town, the female “rabbi” turns the microphones on and off on shabbos and they use guitars and keyboards at Kabbalat Shabbat. In reality, the Conservative movement is split between those that are halachikally observant but Egalitarian, and those that feel that the Reform movement is wrong, so they go to shuls that are conservative even though they have adopted many reform practices. I, and many others, predict that the conservative movement will die and will be absorbed by MO on the right and reform on the left, and it certainly seems to be going this way.

    • Sergey Kadinsky June 8, 2010, 4:21 PM

      Does your Conservative shul recognize Kohanim and Leviim? My grandpa’s apartment building minyan once had Reform and Conservative rabbis, but as a kohen, he always got to go first. Now, it is nominally Orthodox, due to the mechitza.

      • Anonymous June 8, 2010, 8:52 PM

        Yes, at my shul Kohanim and Leviim are recognized and only they receive the first and second aliyot (respectively). However, a lot of conservative minyanim aren’t like this. In keeping with the women being equal they try to cancel the inequality of peoples’ ancestry.

  • ksil lo yavin June 8, 2010, 2:08 PM

    one of the keys i think you guys are missing is TMS and the Rambam’s 13 ikarim. Conservatives are at odds with these – which, according to most orthodox, puts them in the apikores category – which is pretty severe

  • Frumsatire Fan June 8, 2010, 3:16 PM

    Great post Heshy! Hey, that’s my shul on the photo! (for the record, it’s actually not affiliated to any movement.)
    Rabbi’s husband, I’ve heard Hubbetzin (I can get away with saying that because I’m foreign).
    I’ve always wondered about sechita, mezuzot, Torah scrolls, mikvahs, etc. Basically we’re parasites and depend on our Ortho cousins for all that stuff.
    Kitchen is definitely Kosher, and any food brought to shul needs to have a hechsher (excepting f. ex. fresh fruit). As far as I know, people who do Glatt Kosher are Sephardi, but maybe some other do too. There are lots of vegetarians, as well as people who don’t keep kosher (or keep only some aspects of it).
    Re. kippot, I think quite a few people (incl. myself) would wear one all the time, if it weren’t for the fact that people make all sorts of assumptions about you if you wear one.
    A quirky conservative dilemma: I take the subway to shul on Shabbat (using a pre-paid card; by Conservative standards it’s ok though perhaps not ideal). If I had my kippa on in the subway people would think I’m Orthodox, and Orthodox people don’t take the subway on Shabbat – so I remove it before I go down the subway stairs and put it on after I get out. It’s a bit odd, isn’t it?

    • Shaul June 8, 2010, 5:08 PM

      “A quirky conservative dilemma: I take the subway to shul on Shabbat (using a pre-paid card; by Conservative standards its ok though perhaps not ideal).”

      Not if you’re carrying said pre-paid card on Shabbos.

      “If I had my kippa on in the subway people would think Im Orthodox, and Orthodox people dont take the subway on Shabbat so I remove it before I go down the subway stairs and put it on after I get out. Its a bit odd, isnt it?”

      Why exactly are you taking of your yarmulke? To avoid maris ayin? If so, do you consider taking the subway/carrying a pre-paid card/using said card a melacha?

    • Shaul June 8, 2010, 8:06 PM

      And while I’m at it, is taking the subway really kosher according to the Conservative movement?

      • Shaul June 8, 2010, 8:28 PM

        Um, taking the subway (other issues aside) on Shabbos that is.

        • Anonymous June 8, 2010, 8:54 PM

          If they let you drive to shul I don’t see why they wouldn’t let you take the subway. Also, if you’re in an eruv when you get on the subway and when you get off then there’s no issue with carrying.

          • Shaul June 9, 2010, 11:27 AM

            “If they let you drive to shul I dont see why they wouldnt let you take the subway.”

            The infamous “driving teshuva” allows only those living “beyond reasonable walking distance from the synagogue” to drive to shul, and it did so on the assumption that communal prayer was/is essential to maintaining the religious life of an increasingly non-observant American Jewry. There is certainly an argument to be made that it did not give a green light for already religious Jews, who otherwise refrain from melachos on Shabbos, to drive to shul.

            “Also, if youre in an eruv when you get on the subway and when you get off then theres no issue with carrying.”

            Living in a city without any eruvim I tend to forget that possibility.

  • Ari S. June 8, 2010, 3:27 PM

    Frumsatire Fan: why not just put a hat or baseball cap on instead of taking it off?

    • Frumsatire Fan June 8, 2010, 3:47 PM

      Hmm, I’d look very silly in one, but you’re right. It’s easier in the winter.

      • Shaul June 8, 2010, 5:22 PM

        As opposed to the fashionable look of the yarmulke? 😉

  • conservative June 8, 2010, 3:48 PM

    I can understand why someone who’s orthodox would think that conservative Jews aren’t really Jews or whatever, but in reality conservative Judaism is something special. It’s like tightrope walking between orthodox and reform – you are considered secular by more religious friends and “really Jewish” by non-Jewish friends. It feels good to maintain your sense of Jewishness even when you’re not in a large religious community, and there are certain sacrifices as well. Had I been brought up more religious I would consider that the most normal, and if I were brought up more secular, that would have been normal too. But either way, I would still consider myself Jewish.

    Learning about other sects can only be a good thing, even if you decide that it’s stupid and you hate it (which hopefully you won’t). I had a lot questions when I visited an orthodox shul last year: “Why are all the women wearing hats? Why are they putting salt on the challah? etc”
    I got all my questions answered and it helps me feel more comfortable around my orthodox friends.

  • Simon G June 8, 2010, 3:49 PM

    Wow, I’ve always considered and identified myself with the conservative community, after reading your blog I was a bit taken back…driving to shul on shabbat? Microphone? Sounds like reform to me…

    Its interesting because I’ve never really asked myself what separates conservative from orthodox (in my community)…aside from keeping almost everything: tzitzit, we daven the same way, keep shabbat strictly, keep kosher strictly, etc….the only difference is we don’t dress the same outside of shul, women wear jeans, guys wear shorts and a polo compared to suits…..I’ve never seen anyone come to shul in a car, that’s like asking to be the joke of the community…

    I’m curious to know where you experienced this “conservative” community.

    • Heshy Fried June 8, 2010, 4:13 PM

      The post about Los Angeles, but conservative shuls are kind of known for the whole microphone thing

    • Anonymous June 8, 2010, 6:06 PM

      I can believe that you keep halacha and (maybe) that everyone in your shul does too. I can’t believe that you’ve never heard of a Conservative congregation where people use a microphone and drive to shul.

      And, technically speaking, if you use the Conservative Korbanos-less Sim Shalom siddur, give Aliyos to women, and never read the last 2/3’s of any parsha, – you do not daven the same way.

      (I would also question why a person who is so careful about halacha would subscribe to a movement that is not convinced that the Torah is divinely given to Moshe at Har Sinai.)

  • Tamara June 8, 2010, 4:27 PM

    Hesh,

    I beg to differ on your last comment. I think that many people THINK they know but, like you wrote in the post, you THINK because you haven’t experienced. You actually didn’t come to services so I’ll share that at the shul you went to there are 3 minyanim each Shabbos. In the main sanctuary a mic is used and is set up prior to Shabbos. In my minyan, there is absolutely no mic. It’s egalitarian. When the A/C needs to be switched or adjusted, one of the workers changes it, never ever a congregant. In the third minyan they (I think) have a mic that is also pre-set up BUT, that one is unique in that the bimah is small and in the center, Sephardic style. The congregation is around the bimah. It’s egalitarian but completely lay led.

    I just think it’s important that people get facts straight. I definitely don’t think it’s the norm to have mics as MANY Conservative shuls are very traditional. The rabbis do not hold or carry around the mic. My feeling, based on a recent Bar Mitzvah I went to at a Conservative shul way out in the burbs is that, as you get away from urban life things get less traditional as Jews become more isolated from communal life. A shul may be called one thing but folks from all levels might go there. Conservative shuls in the city, from my experience are more traditional.

    My shul is predominately attended by folks who actually walk to shul. Members host each other for lunches and such. Oh, and one more thing. There is a piano in the main sanctuary only but absolutely no instruments in the other minyanim; and the other minyanim have equal to or MORE attendees than in the main sanctuary ironically. 🙂

  • Rob June 8, 2010, 4:57 PM

    On many issues, the Reform Movement has moved to the right (they admit that there is a G-d…What? You think I’m kidding? Read the Pittsburgh Platform), orthodoxy has moved to the right, and Conservative Judaism has kinda stayed where it is. At the same time, the Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards (the posekim of the Rabbinical Assembly) have abandoned any claim to intellectual integrity by passing opposing responsa with majorities, and refusing to treat matters which should be takanot as t’shuvot.

    Ultimately, however, I would argue that the end goal of a thorough Jewish education ought to be that one is versed enough in the Torah (in the broad sense) that they don’t need the rulings of a posek, only their occasional advice.
    – R

  • BKL June 8, 2010, 7:56 PM

    It’s very hard to say exactly what the ‘Conservative movement’ follows. The differences in practice between Conservative shuls are innumerable. I grew up in a Conservative synagogue in Minnesota that had microphones & a choir. The women wore kippot & tallis if they were called to the Torah. We ate shellfish but oh never pork! We also switched out our dishes on Pesach.

    Later on, as an adult, I joined a Conservative shul in Marin County. It was much more observant. They had minyan three times/day. Most people kept kosher in their homes, but would eat out vegetarian. Most men (& some women) wore kippot all the time, but I dont know if they wore tzit-tzit, because they were probably tucked in. People would drive to services on Shabbat, but nowhere else. The shul itself was strictly kosher, but accepted hechsherim that the orthodox wont.

    We even had our machloket when our Rabbi retired, a temporary rabbi came in & the first thing he did was turn around the bimah so that it was facing the congregation. Major angst!! He was kicked out in about 5 weeks & the bimah turned back.

    Something no one else has mentioned: one HUGE difference between Conservative & Reform is that the Conservative still maintains the matrilineal line, whereas the Reform will say someones Jewish if just the father is Jewish.

    The Conservative movement was started as a backlash against the Reform. Because of that, I think its seen sort of as a fluid thing. They have some basic tenents (listed in Emmet VEmunah), but a lot of it is up to interpretation.

    By the way, the synagogue I went to when I was a kid now calls itself Reconstructionist, whatever THAT means!

    • David June 9, 2010, 9:11 AM

      Even though in theory Conservative believes in matralineal descent, in popular practice a majority of C Jewish laity (and a significant number of rabbis) recognize patralineal descent. They might sometimes have a kid with a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother jump in the mikvah a couple of days before his bar mitzvah, but no other formal conversion. Even this isn’t always done.
      I read an article about a Conservative Temple and Reform Temple in Miami that merged and they aske the C rabbi how they were going to reconcile that Reform has patralineal descent and the C rabbi said that they (the C movement) has basically been unofficially recognizing it for 10-15 years.

      • RF June 22, 2010, 5:25 AM

        LOL! The two shuls in Miami that you’re referring to are the ones my family was affiliated with when I was growing up. Temple Samu-El Or Olom and and Bet Breira… I think now they’ve combined their names so it’s Bet Breira Samu-El Or Olom or something like that. (The other (Reform) shul we were affiliated with closed down after a lot of political rabbi drama and lawsuits, Temple Shir Ami.)

        My mom converted through the URJ before she and my dad married. According to halacha, my brother and I are not Jewish. But Temple Samu-El (the Conservative of the two congregations) did not turn us down as members as long as my brother and I were studying there. Soon as my parents stopped being able to afford the schooling on top of the hefty membership fees, we were no longer Jewish enough for them.

        Last time I visited home, my mom kept wanting me to go to Friday night services to check out their blended service. But if they’re still using the Gates of Prayer siddurim, how blended is it really? Isn’t that still Reform?

  • BKL June 8, 2010, 8:11 PM

    Couple more things.

    The Reform has dramatically changed a lot of the liturgy, for example, they have removed all references to techiat hameitim. The Conservative hasn’t messed much, just tweaked it a bit to make it more egalitarian (i.e. when we say “Avraham, Yitzchok, Yakov & Joseph” they also add “Sara, Rivka & Leah”)

    As someone else said above, I find that in some ways Conservative people are much ‘better’ people than frummies. They are more accepting, flexible, understanding. And also more generous. Frummies will only give tzedaka to their shul & school.

    A lot of Conservative shuls have programs for their bar/bat mitzvahs that require the kid does a tzedaka project. Ive read about some incredible accomplishment by these kids. Orthodox couldnt care less about teaching their kids to be productive members of society & protectors of the earth. They just care about how many mesechtas the kid can learn.

  • FrumGer June 8, 2010, 9:02 PM

    Conservative movement is like this-

    Some Rabbaim are frum with chavanah some are shmalzy hockers in it for the money. Most rabbaim walk on shabbos.

    The people- 90% are C.I.N.O (conservative in name only) they don’t keep kosher, keep the shabbos, they daven only in shul (shabbos morning) they live there lives the same as reform jews. A few break shabbos but keep kosher and a few keep kosher and shabbos.

    The typical Rabbaim’s interpretation of halachah is to say the least weird. The shulchan aruch is binding but then they change itor omit things at will. the S.A. clearly says 10 adult males make a minyan but they ignore that. In other words they pick fruit from the same tree they chop down. its fercockt.

    To all that think the inclusivness is awesome, let me say this, they are inclusive because conservitive judaism is social judaism nothing more. most that go to shul dont give a shit about halachah at all. All the great talmudists at the jts left because its too left now, I have a dear friend that is a conservative Rabbi, but he got his smicha back when jts still had a Mehitza well over 20 years ago so its changed a lot…

    By the Way Stop calling it “sing song” I hate that word!! drives me nuts its an errrky word, Say Trope- its called Trope. I hate the Trope they use.

    All I have to say is thank G-d Conservativism is Dying.

  • Bubba Metzia June 8, 2010, 9:17 PM

    As far as the driving to shul on Shabbat is concerned it was very controversial when it was introduced. Basically it was a heter that was put because many people were living in suburbs too far to walk to shul. My uncle’s a Conservative rabbi and he walks to shul, but he lives in a more easily walkable urban area.

    • Little Pom's Mom June 9, 2010, 8:58 AM

      I have to say, that’s the only reason that our family drives to shul. We have only ONE shul in our entire county….and it’s a miniscule little place with no children’s education and a bizarre Rabbi who’s like a MO/New Age hybrid and who calls himself Conservadox. The next-closest shul is over 15 miles away (in a neighborhood we could never afford to live in) and so, we drive. But if I had a viable option, I would walk every week…..and I’m Reform!

  • conservative scifi June 9, 2010, 8:42 AM

    Echo most comments.

    As chiddushim, I would add that I was recently at an orthodox synagogue (with mechitza) in Baltimore where most of the congregation had clearly parked in the lot.

    The range of conservative is from nearly reform to nearly orthodox. If the congregation uses the Sim Shalom siddur, you can make some guesses based on whether they use page “a” or “b” (ie normal shemonah esrai or with matriarchs) and also whether they are triennial or read the full kriah.

    I agree with the commenter’s who predict that conservative Judaism will spread along the spectrum until we have reform/conservative composed of some educated and mostly cultural Jews, Orthodox/conservative composed of Jews who wish to follow halacha at some level, and entirely assimilated Jews who are not part of our community.

  • Frumsatire Fan June 9, 2010, 10:00 AM

    Oh yes, the singsong talk! (I think Heshy wasn’t talking about the trope). As in, for example, when bat mitzvah girl gives her dvar Torah and says “When I first read my parsha, …” and the pitch goes up and down wildly (a bit like whale songs played fast). Is it a Conservative thing? I always thought it was Upper West Side. The more extreme cases tend to be girls, but some boys have it too.

  • FrumGer June 9, 2010, 11:50 PM

    Sing song- Shming Shmong either way it is a trope or certain cantillation , which I hate as well…

    I want to say this about those that advocate driving on shabbos to shul..
    what strikes me as really funny and sad, is that when people got the poskin to drive to shul (saving a jewish life? what a weak halachah nu?) all that happened is that the jewish community imploded. because then jews just started moving farther and farther away from shuls and most STILL dont come to shul.they go to the ball game instead. it did no good and really it destroyed jewish communities all over the mid west, south everywhere but huge cities. if the rent is to high around the shul or the houses are too expensive- TOUGH! that is part of being yiddish. you spend money for what is important. I could live in a cheaper place but i dont because we need to live here. we need to be around the shul. that is non debatable. people move to the burbs and what they are doing is selling out to the goyisher lifestyle. if G-d wanted jews to live in burbs then he would move a shul out there. and id He did then count yourself lucky and live by it. Starting a car is starting a fire. period. not going to shul on shabbos is not going to kill you- daven at home.

  • Jonny June 10, 2010, 4:41 AM

    Reform – There are no rules.

    Conservative – There are rules and we follow those which are convenient.

  • justayid June 10, 2010, 8:15 PM

    .”when we say Avraham, Yitzchok, Yakov & Joseph they also add Sara, Rivka & Leah)”

    and to add CONfusion, many conservative shuls do NOT add the matriarchs.

    re kippot. Yeah, the white tenting ones are for folks who don’t own a knit kippah. And folks like me, who own a knit kippah, but don’t wear it during the week, and cant always find it on shabbos, so arrive in shul without it. Sometimes though I wear a fedora for that Masorti/frummie look, and I am not the only one.

  • justayid June 10, 2010, 8:18 PM

    “The shulchan aruch is binding ”

    er no, IIUC to most Conservative authorities neither the Shulchan aruch nor any other single code is binding. I used to think this was the point of distinction, till some Orthodox folks told me SA isn’t always binding on O either. Though clearly O give more weight to SA than C do.

  • Anonymous June 10, 2010, 8:24 PM

    “you can make some guesses based on whether they use page a or b (ie normal shemonah esrai or with matriarchs) and also whether they are triennial or read the full kriah.”

    my shul uses the triennial, but uses the “normal” amidah without matriarchs.

    Really there is so much flux, these things dont line up all that well.

    I do not agree that C will simply split into a R half and an O half. There are too many folks moving right in learning and davening, who insist on egalitarianism in some form (and are meeting the Avi Weiss set moving left, the partnership minyanim, etc)

    OTOH the left wing of C, which wants to drum the non egal and non- gay friendly congregations out of the movement, are not by any means ready for treif synagogue kitchens, or even for patrilineal descent.

    If C dissolves, it wont be to create two big new movements of the 20th century kind – an R and an O. It will be to dissolve into independent institutions, independent minyanim, seminaries, youth groups, etc linked via new technologies. Thats the 21st c, at least so far.

  • Anonymous June 10, 2010, 8:29 PM

    “They might sometimes have a kid with a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother jump in the mikvah a couple of days before his bar mitzvah, but no other formal conversion. ”

    And go to a bet din. They dont need a long conversion process if the child was already raised as a Jew – I mean if their religious school experience is as long and intense as a ger’s education, why ask them to repeat that?

    If it were as simple as you say, there wouldn’t be so many intermarried couples at Reform congregations.

    I wouldnt beleive everything you read in a magazine, esp from someone motivated to minimize the real issues of a merger.

    • Anon June 11, 2010, 11:03 AM

      “And go to a bet din.”
      No, they don’t. That’s my whole point. Some require this, some do not.
      In many cases, families/kids don’t even KNOW that according to halachaa (even Conservative standards) the kid is not Jewish until weeks before the bar mitzvah.
      And how are these kids “raised Jewish”? Eating treif, driving on Shabbat, etc.

  • Anonymous June 10, 2010, 8:35 PM

    “To all that think the inclusivness is awesome, let me say this, they are inclusive because conservitive judaism is social judaism nothing more. most that go to shul dont give a shit about halachah at all.”

    even most of them would have enough respect to not use the word sh*t and halachah in the same sentence.

    In fact by reducing it to two groups, the shomer shabbos and the social jews, you oversimplify. Probably 50% are not at all observant but go to a C shul for a traditional service. maybe 10% are almost completely observant. the remaining 40% are somewhere in between – kosher kitchen but treif out, or no pork or shellfish or cheeseburgers, but only one set of dishes, or seperate dishes on pesach but not during the year. Some folks who eat mcdonalds during the year wont eat kitniyot on Pesach. Most fast all of Yom Kippur. Many study, many go to shul on Yom Tov during the week, a few daven on weekdays. A few women now go to mikveh. Many engage in a range of ethical mitzvot you don’t mention, like tzedakah, or avoiding lashon hara.

    Its a complex movement – yes its burdened by a large group of CINO’s. If we werent here, they would be OINO’s instead.

  • Anonymous June 10, 2010, 8:39 PM

    “I would also question why a person who is so careful about halacha would subscribe to a movement that is not convinced that the Torah is divinely given to Moshe at Har Sinai.”

    We dont all agree on what Pirkei avot means when it says Har Sinai or Moshe. To me the revelation through time to Am Israel in Eretz Israel, and in Bavel, IS revelation at Sinai – Sinai is a metaphor for Am Israels experience of receiving Torah, its not a mountain currently ruled by hosni Mubarak.

    • sh June 10, 2010, 9:59 PM

      Pirkei Avot!?

      What about the Book of Shemot, which describes Moshe ascending Har Sinai and receiving the Torah as the Jewish people stood at the foot of the mountain?

      Face it. Conservative theology doubts the Torah’s narrative and does not require it’s rabbis to believe that there was a revelation at Sinai.

  • Titzah June 10, 2010, 10:05 PM

    For a few years in gradeschool my family had to move to Arizona where we only lived within walking distance of a Conservative shul. They had very few who drove on shabbos, but a few, especially the elderly, did drive. They had two minyins, one egalitarian, one traditional. No mics in either. Then suddenly both the rabbi’s left, one retired, the other found his calling working in the prison system! The two new rabbi’s dismanteled the traditional minyin and my family had to move.
    A side note- at the time i went to a “orthodox” yeshiva where my siblings and I were one of maybe five families that were shomer shabbos. I remember telling my parents I felt i could not go back to school till I learned what MTV Real World was. My parents shipped me back to Brooklyn till they could pack stuff up and sell the house 🙂

  • Anonymous June 11, 2010, 10:59 AM

    “Pirkei Avot!?

    What about the Book of Shemot, which describes Moshe ascending Har Sinai and receiving the Torah as the Jewish people stood at the foot of the mountain?”

    Bereshit says the world was created in 6 days. If we can reconcile that with modern earth science and biology, as most MO do, IIUC, then we can reconcile the historical portions of Taanach with history, archaelogy and philology.

  • Shira Salamone June 11, 2010, 11:26 AM

    Anonymous June 10, 2010 at 8:35 PM is pretty close to what I’ve seen, as a livelong Conservative Jew 61 years of age:

    . . . by reducing it to two groups, the shomer shabbos and the social jews, you oversimplify. Probably 50% are not at all observant but go to a C shul for a traditional service. ”

    The old joke used to be that a Conservative synagogue is one that has an Orthodox rabbi and Reform congregants. One of my Orthodox buddies recently pointed out to me that that’s no longer always true, and she’s right. One Conservative rabbi whose synagogue I attend frequently has been known to end Shabbat/Sabbath after Seudah Shlishit (Shabbat’s traditional Third Meal) with the Havdalah ceremony but without benefit of Maariv/Arvit/Evening Service. Another has been known to sit down to a bagel breakfast without bothering with ritual handwashing (n’tilat yadayim) before or Birkat HaMazon (Grace After Meals) afterward. Other Conservative rabbis are observant enough that their practice is the same as, or close to, that of an Orthodox Jew. though many still are. The level of observance among Conservative rabbis is no longer predictable.

    “maybe 10% are almost completely observant. the remaining 40% are somewhere in between kosher kitchen but treif out, or no pork or shellfish or cheeseburgers, but only one set of dishes, or seperate dishes on pesach but not during the year.”

    Been there, done that.

    “Some folks who eat mcdonalds during the year wont eat kitniyot on Pesach.”

    Been there, done that, too.

    Anon forgot to mention another variety of kashrut observance that’s very typical of Conservative Jews (me among them)–keeping a kosher kitchen but eating dairy out.

    “Most fast all of Yom Kippur.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever met a serious Conservative Jew who did *not* fast all of Yom Kippur, barring health problems.

    “Many study, ”

    Not being among them (bad girl that I am), I would hope that that’s correct.

    “many go to shul on Yom Tov during the week,”

    . . . even though they may go to work afterward. 🙁 Actually, I truly wish that my own shul got a decent crowd on a workday festival. Some other Conservative synagogues get a much higher attendance then.

    “a few daven on weekdays.”

    Yep. The Conservative minyan with which I said kaddish for my mother–our own neighborhood has so few Jews left that *none* of the local synagogues, Ortho or Conserv, gets a minyan on a workday–*always* had a minyan by Bar’chu.

    “A few women now go to mikveh.”

    So I’ve heard, though I don’t have much evidence.

    “Many engage in a range of ethical mitzvot you dont mention, like tzedakah, or avoiding lashon hara.”

    Tzedakah is taken pretty seriously in the Conservative community.

    “Its a complex movement yes its burdened by a large group of CINOs.”

    Definitely.

    “If we werent here, they would be OINOs instead.”

    🙂 Could be.

    Nu, Heshy, if you want to know how (some) Conservative Jews think and/or observe, read my blog! 🙂

  • Shira Salamone June 11, 2010, 11:41 AM
  • Anonymous June 11, 2010, 1:13 PM

    “keeping a kosher kitchen but eating dairy out.”

    I did not mention that, because some C rabbis consider that acceptable, as a leniency, at least in communities with no kosher restaurants – there was a whole long debate on Shefanet about that. I was trying to mention C Jews whose practice clearly falls short of C norms, but who are still too engaged and observant to be dismissed as CINOS (some of course are Reform jews as Reform jews are SUPPOSED to be – making choices based on conscience of what to observe)

    WRT going to work after yomtov davening – traffic where I live is so bad, there really isnt much point in trying to do that, unless you work very close to shul.

  • Anonymous June 11, 2010, 1:21 PM

    shira

    your question, where are all the C bloggers hiding, is a good one. I see so many blogs by O’s, by bitter ex O’s, by BT’s, by very bitter exBT’s, and, to a lesser extent, by R (like velveteen Rabbi, some dude in Park Slope, etc) and of course lots of jewish blogs on politics – but hardly anything from the C/masorti perspective, even if you expand that beyond USCJ to the Recon and UTJ communities (well you do get lots of blogging from the independent minyanim, which I guess is not surprising generationally)

    I have been thinking of doing some kind of metasite just to find all the Con/masorti and related blogging going on. Interestingly Shefa is doing a discussion now of the C presence on the web (abysmal, IMO) but I dont think the question of aggregating blogs has come up.

  • Batya from Shiloh June 13, 2010, 4:33 AM

    Lots of issues. I like Torah Jews versus those who put more faith in their wants and opinions as categories. For years Alice Shalvi claimed she was Orthodox while professing Conservative views, until she finally admitted that she couldn’t force Torah Jews to her opinion.

    Don’t confuse membership with observance and belief. It’s so complicated and individual.

    I hate labels.

  • FortyFrumThing June 15, 2010, 1:24 AM

    I grew up in a Conservative Judaism until I went M.O. in mid-life.

    Sorry to report about Conservative Judaism: There’s no “there” there.

    Modern Ortho wannabes. More concerned with singles doing social justice than with doing justice to singles socials. Changing ancient and venerated prayers to improve the self-esteem of (pick your fluid gender-identity-variant). Claiming to represent “traditional” Judaism and American Jewish values and politics with an ever-shrinking membership.

    I could go on all night, but I need to get up early and lay tefillin . Which I was never taught even once in forty some-odd years in Conservative Judaism, excepting a USY convention with a cool chaperone advisor.

  • Ken June 17, 2011, 9:15 AM

    So maybe you’ve seen me messing around in the comments on your blog the last little bit. I am a Conservative Jew. I’m 39, married with 3 kids. All in day school (Schechter) and Ramah summer camp, all living life with the same name they’ll use to get called for an aliyah and calling their parents Ima and Abba. We’re shomer mitzvot–shabbat, kashrut, yes, even T”H. I have a BA in Judaic studies from JTS (List College is the undergrad school) and went to a mainstream Orthodox yeshiva for high school and a Schechter day school before that.

    Rather than taking a stab, though, at answering the list of inquiries you’ve compiled, I would suggest they are not really going to give you a serious picture of what Conservative Judaism is about. I would recommend reading books instead. Before books, though, try these URLs:

    http://www.myjewishlearning.com/history/Modern_History/1700-1914/Denominationalism/Conservative.shtml

    http://www.myjewishlearning.com/history/Jewish_World_Today/Denominations/Conservative.shtml

    Books: Anything by Elliott Dorff. Sacred Fragments by Neil Gillman. Conservative Judaism: The New Century also by Neil Gillman. The Halakhic Process: A Systemic Analysis by Joel Roth.

  • Ken June 17, 2011, 9:17 AM

    “Changing ancient and venerated prayers. . .”

    Try this book by Rav Daniel Sperber: http://www.amazon.com/Changes-Jewish-Liturgy-Options-Limitations/dp/9655240401/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1307933180&sr=8-1

  • Joan July 10, 2012, 9:13 AM

    This group of yeshiva-like (or shall I say “lite”) is a very unrepresentative sample of Conservative Jews. Most Jews who say that they are Conservative mean that they go to a Conservative synagogue on RH (many for one day only) and YK.

    Many conservative “rabbis” including one in my neighborhood (a YU boy) are now performing gay “marriages”. ‘Nuff said.

  • Mr. Cohen July 10, 2012, 9:21 AM

    Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Igros Moshe, Chelek Eben HaEzer Volume II, Siman 17:

    Concerning the issue of whether a marriage is valid or not, if there were two valid witnesses [eidim kasherim] to testify [at the wedding], then the marriage is valid.

    But the [Conservative] Rabbi himself is obviously invalid [as a witness
    to the wedding].

    It makes no difference whether he was always Conservative and attended their seminary or if he was originally a real Rabbi who became Conservative; the latter is even worse, because he deviated and separated [from real Judaism].

  • Mr. Cohen July 10, 2012, 9:22 AM

    Around 1990, the Union for Traditional Conservative Judaism (UTCJ) deleted the word CONSERVATIVE from its name, and is now The Union for Traditional Judaism (UTJ).

  • Mr. Cohen July 10, 2012, 1:06 PM

    ARTICLE: Judaism Faces Gender Imbalance Crisis
    SOURCE: 6/25/2008 USA Today by Nicole Neroulias

    NEW YORK Non-Orthodox Jewish men are becoming alienated from their faith, a crisis that foreshadows a rise in interfaith marriages and secular generations, according to a new study from Brandeis University.

    The findings, based on 300 interviews, report the rise of female leadership and participation in Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Judaism has prompted men to opt out of religious activities, in contrast to Orthodox Judaism, which still requires men for traditional worship and family life.

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