Conservative Judaism

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Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism, which views Religious Law (Halakha) as binding, yet also regards it as subject to historical development. The movement considers its approach to Halakha as the authentic and traditional one, disavowing both what it considers the excesses of Reform Judaism and the stringency of Orthodoxy. Reconstructionist Judaism is an offshoot of Conservative.

The movement views itself as a continuation of the Positive-Historical School led by Rabbi Zacharias Frankel in mid-19th Century Germany. While at first close to the pioneers of Reform Judaism, he broke with the movement which he perceived as too radical.[1] In America, the term 'Conservative' came to denote the group centered around the JTS, which coalesced in opposition to the publication of the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform. While a common label from then onward, symbolizing relative traditionalism, JTS-affiliated communities and rabbinic organizations became a wholly independent denomination only in the postwar years, after a long process of separation from the moderate, Americanized wing of Orthodoxy.[2] In many countries outside North America, including Israel, it is today known as Masorti Movement (Hebrew for "Traditional"). Most congregations defining themselves as "Conservative" belong to the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, though some are independent. In Canada, several are affiliated with the secessionist Canadian Council of Conservative Synagogues. The moniker Conservadox is sometimes employed to refer to the right wing of the Conservative spectrum, as is "Traditional", adopted by the splinter Union for Traditional Judaism.

Theology and principle

Conservative Judaism, from its earliest stages, was marked by ambivalence and ambiguity in all matters theological. Rabbi Zecharias Frankel, considered its intellectual progenitor, believed the very notion of theology was alien to traditional Judaism. He was often accused of obscurity on the subject by his opponents, both Reform and Orthodox. The American movement mostly maintained a similar approach, and its key leaders generally avoided the field. Only in 1985 did a course about Conservative theology open in the JTS. The hitherto sole major attempt to define a clear credo was made in 1988, with the Statement of Principles Emet ve-Emunah (Truth and Belief), formulated and issued by the Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism. The introduction stated that "lack of definition was useful" in the past but a need to articulate one now arose. The platform provided many statements citing key concepts such as God, revelation and Election, but also acknowledged that a variety of positions and convictions existed within denominational ranks, eschewing strict delineation of principles and often expressing conflicting views.[3][4][5][6] In a 1999 special edition of Conservative Judaism dedicated to the matter, leading rabbis Elliot N. Dorff and Gordon Tucker clarified that "the great diversity" within the movement "makes the creation of a theological vision shared by all neither possible nor desirable."[7]

Conservative Judaism largely upholds the theistic notion of a personal God. Emet ve-Emunah stated that "we affirm our faith in God as the Creator and Governor of the universe. His power called the world into being; His wisdom and goodness guide its destiny." Concurrently, the platform also noted that His nature was "elusive" and subject to many options of belief. A naturalistic conception of divinity, regarding it as inseparable from the mundane world, once had an important place within the denomination, especially represented by Mordecai Kaplan. After Kaplan's Reconstructionism fully coalesced into an independent movement, these views were marginalized.[8]

A similarly inconclusive position is expressed in Conservative ranks toward other precepts. Most theologians adhere to the Immortality of the Soul, but while references to the Resurrection of the Dead are maintained, English translation of the prayers obscures the issue. In Emet, it was stated that death is not tantamount to the end of one's personality. Relating to the Messianic ideal, the movement rephrased most petitions for the restoration of the Sacrifices into past tense, regarding animal offering (though not a Return to Zion and even a new Temple) as desirable no more. The 1988 platform announced that "some" believe in classic eschathology, but dogmatism in this matter was "philosophically unjustified." The notions of Election of Israel and God's covenant with it were basically retained as well.[9]

Conservative conception of Revelation encompasses an extensive spectrum. Zecharias Frankel himself applied critical-scientific methods to analyze the stages in the development of the Oral Torah, pioneering modern study of the Mishnah. He regarded the Beatified Sages as innovators who added their own, original contribution to the canon, not merely as expounders and interpreters of a legal system given in its entirety to Moses on Mount Sinai. Yet he also vehemently rejected utilizing these disciplines on the Pentateuch, maintaining it was beyond human reach and wholly celestial in origin. Frankel never elucidated his beliefs, and the exact correlation between human and divine in his thought is still subject to scholarly debate.[10] A similar negative approach toward Higher Criticism, while accepting an evolutionary understanding of Oral Law, defined Rabbi Alexander Kohut, Solomon Schechter and the early generation of American Conservative Judaism. When JTS faculty began to embrace Biblical criticism in the 1920s, they adapted a theological view consistent with it: an original, verbal revelation did occur in Sinai, but the text itself was composed by later authors. The latter, classified by Dorff as a relatively moderate metamorphosis of the old one, is still espoused by few traditionalist right-wing Conservative rabbis, though it is marginalized among senior leadership.[4][11]

A small but influential segment within the JTS and the movement adhered, from the 1930s, to Moredcai Kaplan's philosophy that denied any form of revelation but viewed all scripture as a purely human product. Along with other Reconstructionist tenets, it dwindled as the latter consolidated into a separate group. Kaplan's views and the permeation of Higher Criticism gradually swayed most Conservative thinkers towards a non-verbal understanding of theophany, which has become dominant in the 1970s.[4][12]

Jewish law

Conservative Judaism views halakha (Jewish religious law) as normative and binding. Examining Jewish history and rabbinic literature through the lens of academic criticism, Conservative Judaism believes that halakha has always evolved to meet the changing realities of Jewish life, and that it must continue to do so in the modern age. Some Conservative theologians, like Seymour Siegel have stressed that the word, "Conservative," must be understood in the way it is used in the British political system: that the laws and traditions have to be conserved or preserved, with changes allowed only when there is an overriding reason—almost always, an overriding ethical reason—to do so. Siegel believed such change could occur when halakhah and aggadah, the wealth of non-legalistic rabbinic literature that included lessons on Jewish morals, values, and ethics, came into conflict. When they did, he believed that ethics and aggadah should prevail.

This view, together with Conservative Judaism's diversity of opinion concerning divine revelation, accounts for some of the diversity and disagreement in the Conservative movement's halakha. When considering changes to halakha, Conservative Judaism's rabbinical authorities may rely on historical analysis as well as religious considerations. As Solomon Schechter noted, "however great the literary value of a code may be, it does not invest it with infallibility, nor does it exempt it from the student or the Rabbi who makes use of it from the duty of examining each paragraph on its own merits, and subjecting it to the same rules of interpretation that were always applied to Tradition".[13]

Concerning interpretation of Halakha (or Jewish law): because of Judaism's legal tradition, the fundamental differences between modern Jewish denominations also involve the relevance, interpretation, and application of Jewish law and tradition. Conservative Judaism believes that its approach is the most authentic expression of Judaism as it was traditionally practiced. Conservative Jews believe that movements to its left, such as Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism, have erred by rejecting the traditional authority of Jewish law and tradition. They believe that the Orthodox Jewish movements, on the theological right, have erred by slowing down, or stopping, the historical development of Jewish law: "Conservative Judaism believes that scholarly study of Jewish texts indicates that Judaism has constantly been evolving to meet the needs of the Jewish people in varying circumstances, and that a central halakhic authority can continue the halakhic evolution today." (Soc. Culture. Jewish Usenet Newsgroup FAQ) The Conservative movement makes a conscious effort to use historical sources to determine what kind of changes to Jewish tradition have occurred, how and why they occurred, and in what historical context. With this information they believe that they can better understand the proper way for rabbis to interpret and apply Jewish law to our conditions today. See also under Modern Orthodox Judaism.

Mordecai Waxman, a leading figure in the Rabbinical Assembly, writes that "Reform has asserted the right of interpretation but it rejected the authority of legal tradition. Orthodoxy has clung fast to the principle of authority, but has in our own and recent generations rejected the right to any but minor interpretations. The Conservative view is that both are necessary for a living Judaism. Accordingly, Conservative Judaism holds itself bound by the Jewish legal tradition, but asserts the right of its rabbinical body, acting as a whole, to interpret and to apply Jewish law." (Mordecai Waxman Tradition and Change: The Development of Conservative Judaism)

Conservative Judaism views the process by which Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism make changes to Jewish tradition as potentially invalid[citation needed]. Thus, Conservative Judaism rejects patrilineal descent and would hold that a child of a non-Jewish mother who was raised as a Reform or Reconstructionist Jew is not legally Jewish and would have to undergo conversion to become a Jew. The Conservative movement is committed to Jewish pluralism and respects the religious practices of Reform and Reconstructionist Jews. For example, the Conservative movement recognizes their clergy as rabbis, even if it does not necessarily accept their specific decisions.[citation needed]

Jewish identity

Conservative Judaism maintains the Rabbinic understanding of Jewish identity: A Jew is someone who was born to a Jewish mother, or who converts to Judaism in accordance with Jewish law and tradition. Conservatism thus rejects patrilineal descent, which is accepted by the Reform movement. Conservative Rabbis are not allowed to perform intermarriages (marriages between Jews and non-Jews). However, the Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism has a different sociological approach to this issue than does Orthodoxy, although agreeing religiously. In a press release it has stated:

"In the past, intermarriage...was viewed as an act of rebellion, a rejection of Judaism. Jews who intermarried were essentially excommunicated. But now, intermarriage is often the result of living in an open society....If our children end up marrying non-Jews, we should not reject them. We should continue to give our love and by that retain a measure of influence in their lives, Jewishly and otherwise. Life consists of constant growth and our adult children may yet reach a stage when Judaism has new meaning for them. However, the marriage between a Jew and non-Jew is not a celebration for the Jewish community. We therefore reach out to the couple with the hope that the non-Jewish partner will move closer to Judaism and ultimately choose to convert. Since we know that over 70 percent of children of intermarried couples are not being raised as Jews...we want to encourage the Jewish partner to maintain his/her Jewish identity, and raise their children as Jews."[14]

Gender equality

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Conservative Judaism was divided over issues of gender equality. In 1973, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards voted, without adopting an explanatory responsum, to permit synagogues to count women toward a minyan, but left the choice to individual congregations. After a further decade of debate, in 1983, JTS voted to admit women for ordination as Conservative rabbis, also without adopting an explanatory responsum. Some opponents of these decisions left the Conservative movement to form the Union for Traditional Judaism.

In 2002, the Committee adopted a responsum that provides an official religious-law foundation for its past actions and articulates the current Conservative approach to the role of women in Judaism.[15]

In December 2006, a responsum was adopted by the Committee that approved the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis and permitted commitment ceremonies for lesbian and gay Jews (but not same-sex marriage), while maintaining the traditional prohibition against anal sex between men.[16] An opposing responsum, that maintained the traditional prohibitions against ordinations and commitment ceremonies, was also approved. Both responsa were enacted as majority opinions, with some members of the Committee voting for both. This result gives individual synagogues, rabbis, and rabbinical schools discretion to adopt either approach.[17]

Individual rabbis continue to be free to avail themselves of more traditionalist minority rulings, and some congregations, particularly in Canada, accordingly still retain a more limited ritual role for women.

On May 31, 2012, a responsum was passed permitting same-sex marriage.[18]

Organizational structure

The Conservative-Masorti movement is unified on a global level by Masorti Olami, representing affiliated congregations in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia (Kehilat Nitzan). Masorti Olami unites a number of smaller national and regional organizations, including:

The international association of Conservative/Masorti Rabbis is known as the Rabbinical Assembly; the Cantors Assembly is the organization of chazanim. The global youth movement is known as NOAM (an acronym for No'ar Masorti); its North American chapter is called the United Synagogue Youth. The movement maintains numerous Rabbinical seminaries and other educational institutions.

In addition, while Hungarian Neolog Judaism is not officially affiliated with Masorti, Conservative Judaism regards it as a fraternal, "non-Orthodox but halakhic" movement.[19]


Like Reform Judaism, the Conservative movement developed in Europe and the United States in the 19th century, as Jews reacted to the changes brought about by the Enlightenment and Jewish emancipation, a confluence of events that lead to Haskalah, or the Jewish Enlightenment. In Europe the movement was known as Positive-Historical Judaism, and it is still known as "the historical school."

Historical antecedents

Frankel's speech in Frankfurt, mentioning "Positive-Historical Judaism" (second row, 2-4 words from left).

Positive-Historical Judaism, the intellectual forerunner to Conservative Judaism, was developed as a school of thought in the 1840s and 1850s in Germany. Its principal founder was Rabbi Zecharias Frankel, who had broken with the German Reform Judaism in 1845 over its rejection of the primacy of the Hebrew language in Jewish prayer. In 1854, Frankel became the head of the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau then in Kingdom of Prussia (now in Poland as Wrocław). At the seminary, Frankel taught that Jewish law was not static, but rather has always developed in response to changing conditions. He called his approach towards Judaism "Positive-Historical," which meant that one should have a positive attitude towards accepting Jewish law and tradition as normative, yet one should be open to developing the law in the same fashion that it has always historically developed. On the one hand, Frankel rejected the innovations of Reform Judaism as insufficiently based in Jewish history and communal practice. On the other hand, by using of modern methods of historical scholarship to develop rabbinic law, Frankel differed with neo-Orthodox Judaism, which was concurrently emerging under Samson Raphael Hirsch.

United States

The differences between the more modern and traditional branches of American Judaism came to a head in 1883, at the "Trefa Banquet"[20] at the Highland House entertainment pavilion, which was at the top of the Mount Adams Incline[21][22] – where shellfish and other non-kosher dishes were served at the celebration of the first graduating class of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. The adoption of the radical Pittsburgh Platform in 1885, which dismissed observance of the ritual commandments and Jewish peoplehood as "anachronistic", created a permanent wedge between the Reform movement and more traditional American Jews.

Portrait of Sabato Morais, from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia.

In 1886, prominent Sephardic Rabbis Sabato Morais and H. Pereira Mendes founded the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York City as a more traditional alternative to Hebrew Union College. The Seminary's brief affiliation with the traditional congregations that established the Union of Orthodox Congregations in 1898 was severed due to the Orthodox rejection of the Seminary's academic approach to Jewish learning. At the turn of the 20th century, the Seminary lacked a source of permanent funding and was ordaining on average no more than one Rabbi per year.

This situation was resolved due to the efforts of Cyrus Adler, professor of Semitic languages at Johns Hopkins University and founder of the Jewish Publication Society, who convinced a number of wealthy German-born Reform Jews, including Jacob Schiff, David, Simon Guggenheim, Mayer Sulzberger and Louis Marshall, to contribute $500,000 to the faltering JTS.[23]

Solomon Schechter inspecting texts from the Cairo Genizah in Cambridge.

The fortunes of Conservative Judaism underwent a dramatic turnaround when in 1902, the famed scholar Solomon Schechter, lecturer in Talmud at the University of Cambridge, accepted the invitation to become president of JTS. Under Schechter's leadership, JTS attracted a distinguished faculty, including Louis Ginzberg (author of Legends of the Jews), historian Alexander Marx, Arabist Israel Friedlander, and future founder of Reconstructionism Mordecai Kaplan, and became a highly regarded center of Jewish learning.[23] In 1913, the Conservative Movement founded its congregational arm, the United Synagogue of America, which would later become the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Conservative Judaism enjoyed rapid growth in the first half of the 20th century, becoming the largest American Jewish denomination. Its combination of modern innovation (such as mixed gender seating) and traditional practice particularly appealed to first and second-generation Eastern European Jewish immigrants, who found Orthodoxy too restrictive, but Reform Judaism foreign. After World War II, Conservative Judaism continued to thrive. The 1950s and early 1960s featured a boom in synagogue construction as upwardly mobile American Jews moved to the suburbs. Conservative Judaism occupied an enviable middle position during a period where American society prized consensus.

In 1973, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of Conservative Judaism voted to count men and women equally as members of a minyan.[24] There was also a special commission appointed by the Conservative movement to study the issue of ordaining women as rabbis, which met between 1977 and 1978, and consisted of eleven men and three women; the women were Marian Siner Gordon, an attorney, Rivkah Harris, an Assyriologist, and Francine Klagsbrun, a writer.[25] In 1983, the faculty of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (one of the academic and spiritual centers of Conservative Judaism), voted, also without accompanying opinion, to ordain women as rabbis and as cantors. Paula Hyman, among others, took part in the vote as a member of the JTS faculty. Amy Eilberg became the first female rabbi ordained in Conservative Judaism in 1985.[26] In 1987 Erica Lippitz and Marla Rosenfeld Barugel became the first female cantors ordained in Conservative Judaism. However, the Cantors Assembly, a professional organization of cantors associated with Conservative Judaism, did not allow women to join until 1990.[27]

By the 1990s Conservative Judaism continued to flourish, yet dichotomies of practice and belief, which had been present for years, began to formulate. After a substantial gift from Los Angeles philanthropist Ruth Ziegler, a new rabbinical school was formed at the American Jewish University (then University of Judaism) in Bel Air, California. Established in 1996, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies became the first independent Jewish seminary to be established on the west coast. In 2001, all graduates of the Ziegler School were formally admitted as members of the Rabbinical Assembly.

Working with this 1990s trend of diversity and institutional growth, Conservative Judaism remained the largest denomination in America, with 43 percent of Jewish households affiliated with a synagogue belonging to Conservative synagogues (compared to 35 percent for Reform and 16 percent for Orthodox). In 2000, the NJPS showed that only 33 percent of synagogue-affiliated American Jews belonged to a Conservative synagogue. For the first time in nearly a century, Conservative Judaism was no longer the largest denomination in America.

As of 2013 Conservative Judaism continued both to age and to shrink rapidly [28] placing the future of the denomination in serious doubt.


The first split in the Conservative coalition occurred in 1963, when followers of Mordecai Kaplan seceded from the movement to form a distinct Reconstructionist Judaism. Kaplan had been a leading figure at JTS for 54 years, and had pressed for liturgical reform and innovations in ritual practice from inside of the framework of Conservative Judaism. Frustrated by the perceived dominance of the more traditionalist voices at JTS, Kaplan's followers decided that the ideas of Reconstructionism would be better served through the creation of a separate denomination. In 1968, the split became formalized with the establishment of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Another schism in the Conservative ranks, this time from the movement's right wing, would come when a number of the traditionalist Rabbis led by JTS Talmudics professor David Weiss Halivni split from the United Synagogue to form the Union for Traditional Judaism. The dissenters were discontented with the general leftward trend in USCJ policies over the previous decades, such as "prayer book revision, egalitarianism, redefining halakhic boundaries of sexual relationships, and advocacy of Israel accepting conversions that are non-halakhic even by Conservative standards".,[29] and the Union suggests that "The Conservative Movement thus appears to endorse the notion that changing societal norms can supersede the proper application of halakhic sources".[29] The Union today describes itself as "trans-denominational"[30] and maintains a Rabbinical seminary, the Institute of Traditional Judaism.

United Kingdom

The Masorti movement did not establish a presence in the United Kingdom until much later and came about largely because of a series of incidents known collectively as the "Jacobs affair": Rabbi Louis Jacobs, a leading scholar of Anglo Jewry, joined the faculty of the Jews College, leaving his post as Rabbi of the New West End Synagogue, under the impression that he would eventually be made principal.[31] However, in 1962 the London Beth Din and the Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie, who formed the leadership of the United Synagogue, the UK's Orthodox establishment, refused to allow his appointment on grounds of heresy[31] because in his 1957 book We Have Reason to Believe, Jacobs had rejected the conception of a literal, verbal revelation of the Torah. In 1964, when the committee of the New West End Synagogue wanted to reappoint Jacobs as their rabbi, Brodie again vetoed his appointment on the same grounds.[31] In response, Jacobs and many of the New West End congregants established the New London Synagogue, which became the center of Masorti Judaism in the United Kingdom.

In the United Kingdom, congregational observance is somewhat more traditional than in the United States. There are no women serving as congregational rabbis (though female Rabbis do serve in other roles), for example, and some Masorti congregations maintain non-egalitarian practices with regard to gender, such as the mechitza and the prohibition of women reading from the Torah,[32] while nearly all American congregations are fully egalitarian and the American Rabbinical schools ordain women as Rabbis.

There are now 13 Masorti congregations in the United Kingdom. British Masorti rabbis have trained at a number of rabbinical schools, including: the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Schechter Institute and the Shalom Hartman Institute both of Jerusalem and Leo Baeck College in London.


The first Masorti communities in the State of Israel were founded in 1979 by North American olim. The movement now has some 50 congregations in Israel, with a membership of approximately 20,000,[33] and its programs reach some 125,000 each year. In addition to its kehillot and chavurot maintains a kibbutz (Kibbutz Hanaton), a moshav (Moshav Shorashim), and IDF Garinim, Masorti groups within the Israeli Defense Forces. The organization is active in integrating olim from South America and the former Soviet Union into Israeli society—native Israelis and olim from non-English speaking countries now make up about 60% of the Israeli Masorti population, the remaining 40% are North American olim.[34] The movement is supported by the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, an American organization that provides funding to Masorti programs, which are disadvantaged by the Israeli government's practice of funding only Orthodox institutions.[35]

Educational institutions

Advanced Jewish Learning

Jewish Theological Seminary

The Conservative movement maintains a number of Rabbinical seminaries:

A Conservative movement-affiliated institution that does not grant rabbinic ordination but which runs along the lines of a traditional yeshiva is the Conservative Yeshiva, located in Jerusalem.

Conservative rabbis also play a leading role at a number of non-denominational institutions of advanced Jewish learning. The rosh yeshivas at Yeshivat Hadar in New York City include rabbis Elie Kaunfer and Shai Held who were ordained by the Conservative movement (at Jewish Theological Seminary). The Rosh Yeshiva at the Canadian Yeshiva & Rabbinical School in Toronto is a Conservative rabbi, Roy Tanenbaum. The rabbinical school of the Academy for Jewish Religion in California is led by Conservative rabbi Mel Gottlieb. The faculties of the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York and of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Newton Centre, Massachusetts also includes a large number of Conservative rabbis. Many smaller programs, such as Rabbi Benay Lappe's SVARA yeshiva, are also led by Conservative rabbis.

Day schools

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism maintains the Solomon Schechter Day Schools, comprising 76 day schools in 17 American states and 2 Canadian provinces serving Jewish children.[36] Many other "community day schools" that are not affiliated with the Solomon Schechter network take a generally Conservative approach, but unlike the Schechter schools, these schools generally have "no barriers to enrollment based on the faith of the parents or on religious practices in the home."[37] During the first decade of the 21st century, a number of schools that were part of the Schechter network transformed themselves into non-affiliated community day schools.[37]

Camp Ramah

A key educational contribution made under the aegis of Conservative Judaism has been the Camp Ramah system. Living Jewishly in a camp setting has raised several generations of committed Jews who are more comfortable with their Jewishness, more knowledgeable, and more aware of Judaism as a lifestyle that can be maintained even as we intersect with the larger, secular world. For a movement that has as its motto, Tradition and Change, Ramah has created a tradition of its own loyal to traditional Jewish expression and creative by virtue of its informal setting.[38] Generations of families have attended Ramah; so many couples have met during a Camp Ramah summer and married that Ramah in the Poconos dedicated a Pagoda to Ramah marriages, with names of the couples inscribed in the structure.[39]


Conservative Judaism has come under criticism from a variety of sources such as:

  • Orthodox Jews who question the movement's commitment to Halakha.
  • Conservative Traditionalists who criticize the Halakhic process when dealing with issues such as women in Judaism as well as homosexuality.

Orthodox Jewish leaders vary considerably in their dealings with the Conservative movement and with individual Conservative Jews. Some Modern Orthodox leaders cooperate and work with the Conservative movement, while haredi ("Ultra-Orthodox") Jews often eschew formal contact with Conservative Judaism, or at least its rabbinate.[40] From the Orthodox perspective, Conservative Jews are considered just as Jewish as Orthodox Jews, but they are viewed as misguided, consistent violators of halakha.[41]

Over the years, Conservative Judaism has experienced internal criticism. Due to halakhic disputes, such as the controversies over the role of women and homosexuality, some Conservative Talmudic scholars and experts in halakha have left the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards.[42][43] and the seminary's former Chancellor, Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, complained of the movement's "erosion of [its] fidelity to Halacha ... [which] brings [it] close to Reform Judaism."[44]

In matters of marriage and divorce, the State of Israel relies on its Chief Rabbinate to determine who is Jewish; the Chief Rabbinate, following Orthodox practice, does not recognize the validity of conversions performed by Conservative rabbis and will require a Jew who was converted by a Conservative rabbi to undergo a second, Orthodox conversion to be regarded as a Jew for marriage and other purposes.

Notable figures

See also


  1. Ismar Schorsch, Zacharias Frankel and the European Origins of Conservative Judaism, Judaism 30 (1981): 344—54.
  2. For example: Michael R. Cohen, The Birth of Conservative Judaism: Solomon Schechter's Disciples and the Creation of an American Religious Movement, Columbia University Press, 2012. pp. 138-140 etc.; Yosef Salmon, Aviezer Ravitzky, Adam Ferziger (editors), Orthodox Judaism: New Perspectives, The Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2006. p. 539-550. See also: Jonathan Sarna, The Break Between Conservative and Orthodox.
  3. Daniel Gordis, Conservative Judaism: The Struggle between Ideology and Popularity, in: Jacob Neusner ed., The Blackwell Companion to Judaism, Blackwell Publishing, 2003. pp. 338-342.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Alan Silverstein, Modernists vs. Traditionalists: Competition for Legitimacy within American Conservative Judaism, in: Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Volume XVII, Oxford University Press, 2001. pp. 40-43.
  5. Daniel J. Elazar, Rela Mintz Geffen, The Conservative Movement in Judaism: Dilemmas and Opportunities, SUNY Press, 2012. pp. 55-57.
  6. Ismar Schorsch, Zacharias Frankel and the European Origins of Conservative Judaism, Judaism 30 (1981)4. pp. 344-348
  7. ”If you are My witnesses...”: Special Issue on Theology. Conservative Judaism 51, no. 2 (Winter 1999). p. 13.
  8. ”If you are My witnesses...”, pp. 41, 59.; Gordis, 353-354.
  9. Elliot N. Dorff, Conservative Judaism: Our Ancestors To Our Descendants, United Synagogue New York, 1996. pp. 49 ,201-202; Martha Himmelfarb, Resurrection, in: Adele Berlin (ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, Oxford University Press, 2011. p. 624
  10. Michael Meyer, Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism, Wayne State, 1995. pp. 84-89, 414.
  11. Dorff, pp. 103-105
  12. Dorff, pp. 107-108.
  13. Solomon Schechter, Studies in Judaism, First Series, 1896, Jewish Publication Society of America.
  14. LEADERSHIP COUNCIL OF CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM, Statement on Intermarriage, Adopted March 7, 1995
  15. Rabbi David J. Fine, Women and the Minyan, Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, Rabbinical Assembly, June 12, 2002.
  16. Rabbis Elliot N. Dorff, Daniel S. Nevins, and Avram I. Reisner, Homosexuality, Human Dignity, & Halakhah, Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, Rabbinical Assembly, December 6, 2006.
  17. "Conservative Jews Allow Gay Rabbis and Unions", The New York Times, December 7, 2006
  18. Klein, Dan. "Conservative Movement Votes on Same Sex Unions", Tablet Magazine, May 31, 2012
  19. Daniel J. Elazar, Rela Mintz Geffen. The Conservative Movement in Judaism: Dilemmas and Opportunities. SUNY Press, 2012. ISBN 9780791492024. pp. 133, 174.
  20. "The Trefa Banquet". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved December 7, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 2005AjajFinal.indb
  22. Cablecars/Inclines
  23. 23.0 23.1 The Jews in America. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1978
  24. Women Equal with Men in Minyan | Jewish Telegraphic Agency
  25. "Francine Klagsbrun | Jewish Women's Archive". Retrieved September 7, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Amy Eilberg | Jewish Women's Archive". Retrieved May 3, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Goldman, Ari L. (September 19, 1990). "A Bar to Women as Cantors Is Lifted". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Pew survey of american jews". External link in |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. 29.0 29.1 "Frequently Asked Questions - Union for Traditional Judaism". Retrieved March 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Frequently Asked Questions - Union for Traditional Judaism". Retrieved March 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 History of the Masorti Movement
  32. Women in the Synagogue
  33. The Masorti Movement in Israel, About at the Wayback Machine (archived May 22, 2007)
  34. Masorti Judaism in Israel, FAQ at the Wayback Machine (archived May 19, 2007)
  35. The Masorti Movement in Israel, FAQ at the Wayback Machine (archived May 19, 2007)
  36. "About the Network". Retrieved March 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. 37.0 37.1 Jennifer Siegel, Will Conservative Day Schools Survive?, June 5, 2008
  38. Michael Greenbaum, "Ramah: Paradigm for Conservative Jews", Ramah at 60, National Ramah Commission, pp. 53–55.
  39. Nancy Scheff, "Romance at Ramah", Ramah at 60, National Ramah Commission, p. 174.
  40. Cf. Responsa of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
  41. Avi Shafran, "The Conservative Lie", Moment, February 2001. Reprinted here [1].
  42. Avraham Weiss, "Open Orthodoxy! A Modern Orthodox Rabbi's Creed" PDF (766 KB), Judaism, Fall 1997.
  43. "Conservative Jews Allow Gay Rabbis and Unions". Retrieved March 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. Jennifer Siegel, "Conservative Rabbi, in Swan Song, Warns Against Liberal Shift", The Jewish Daily Forward, March 24, 2006. Retrieved September 5, 2012.

Further reading

  • Conservative Judaism: An American Religious Movement. Marshall Sklare. University Press of America (Reprint edition), 1985.
  • Conservative Judaism: Our Ancestors To Our Descendants (Revised Edition), Elliot N. Dorff, United Synagogue New York, 1996
  • The Conservative Movement in Judaism: Dilemmas and Opportunities, Daniel J. Elazar, Real Mintz Geffen, SUNY Press, 2000
  • Conservative Judaism: The New Century, Neil Gillman, Behrman House 1993
  • Halakha For Our Time: A Conservative Approach To Jewish Law, David Golinkin, United Synagogue, 1991
  • A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, Isaac Klein, JTS Press, New York, 1992
  • Conservative Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook, Pamela S. Nadell, Greenwood Press, NY 1988
  • Emet Ve-Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism, Ed. Robert Gordis, JTS, New York, 1988
  • Etz Hayim: A Torah Commentary, Ed. David Lieber, Jules Harlow, Chaim Potok and Harold Kushner, The Jewish Publication Society, NY, 2001
  • Jews in the Center: Conservative Synagogues and Their Members. Jack Wertheimer (Editor). Rutgers University Press, 2000.
  • Eight Up: The College Years, Survey of Conservative Jewish youth from middle school to college. Ariela Keysar and Barry Kosmin

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Official statements

Other resources