Conservative Jews also have Liberal and Machmir streams

It seems that orthodoxy is not alone when it comes to divided views within its own sects. Modern orthodoxy has been going through a split for years and although most people either call themselves Modern Orthodox Machmir or Liberal, there has been a recent effort to bring about centrist or normative orthodoxy as a new sect of folks who wish to return to the pre-frummy days of Modern Orthodoxy. The Yeshivish community also tends to have split up as well, with those who are interested in learning full time and those who support a learner-earner lifestyle and so on. Until recently I always thought that all conservative Jews were the same. I figured they all drove to shul on shabbos, kept some made up version of kosher and didn’t really know much. Only recently have I discovered the big differences between right and left wing conservative Jews. 

Of course I should acknowledge that as a card carrying member of the orthodox community I can’t actually say conservative Jews know what they’re doing. In order to remain frum, I must now tell you all how blasphemous and full of crap conservative “Judaism” is and that anyone who belongs to the conservative movement is not really Jewish. Now that I’ve gotten that statement of frum adherence out of the way….

I have met plenty of folks who call themselves conservative and I would have never been able to differentiate them from regular old orthodox folks. These folks have worn yarmulkes, kept shabbos and kosher 100%, but for some reason still remained within conservative Judaism even though they seemed to go against what those false Jews were preaching. Could one really call themselves conservative if they walked to shul on shabbos, kept fully kosher and went to shachris every day? Then again, I’ve known plenty of folks who called themselves frum even though they broke shabbos, never went to shachris and are non-kosher out of their homes, what gives then?

I recently met someone who called themselves conservative, but had never heard of Tisha B’av, is that even possible? I guess you can call yourself whatever you want, but in the grand scheme of Judaic judging and labels you weren’t aligned with whatever you referred to yourself as.  Take me for example, I have so many different beliefs and theories on Judaism and religion, but no matter how skeptical or wavering I am on it all – based on my practice I would be called modern orthodox machmir by most in the community. I daven 3 times a day, keep the big 3 (shabbos, kashrus, taharas mishpacha) give tzedakah, etc…so no matter where I place myself, I will always be placed by the community in some other group. I wish I could call myself post denominational neo-chossid.

However, Conservative Jews seem to be different, I assume Reform also has a similar thing. I’ve met Reform Jews who knew everything there is to know about Judaism and being Jewish (they chose to do nothing about it) and I’ve met Reform Jews who know absolutely nothing, when I say nothing – I mean they have no idea about basic Judaism, all they know is about pork. Do Reform and Conservative Jews judge and label and stereotype each other as much as the Orthodox Jews do?

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