Thursday, February 24, 2005

Is the Conservative rabbinate incompetent or does it just have contempt for the membershp?

Rabbi Perry Raphael Rank, the president of the Rabbinical Assembly of America, the Conservative rabbi's Union, wrote a column for the Fall 2004 edition of the United Synagogue Review, an in-house rag sent to the Conservative laity in North America. This article was at such a shallow intellectual level, I wonder how Rabbi Rank could have risen in the "ranks" (pardon the pun) of the Conservative Rabbinate. His basic thesis is that Conservative Judaism will die out in 20 years unless Conservative Jews adopt orthodox theology. Well, of course, Rabbi Rank might have a personal interest in how many Jews affiliate with the Conservative movement in 20 years because, after all, someone has to pay into the Rabbi's Retirement Fund. But Rabbi Rank's views are sentimentalistic, guilt-tripping, and inconsistent, not the best way to attract and keep members.

Here's a link to the original article:

http://www.uscj.org/images/p21-25.pdf

But don't take my work for it, here it is in his own words (with some commentary by yours truly in italics):

There is another statistic that the Jewish community must ponder these days,

and that is the number of children who will receive no religious education. The statistics are interesting. They show growth in the area of Reform Judaism, but they also show growth in zero Judaism – that is, Jews who feel no need to identify with any one denomination or give their children any religious education. What is that all about?

Zero Judaism ... religious education -- “Not identifying with any one Jewish denomination” is not the same as “Zero Judaism.” Of course, I would understand why the leaders of the institutions of a Jewish denomination might be worried that Jews would try to make a Jewish life outside of a denomination.

What it is, is secularism. Secularism is an approach to life in which God is, at best, marginal if not completely absent from the way in which we arrive at our decisions and our moral posturing. God’s chosen have become a profoundly secular group. That is not to say that we are atheists, but even when we believe in God, the belief does not manifest itself in any practical, measurable way

Secularism – It is not a problem for Conservative Judaism that those who wish not to affiliate with a Jewish religious denomination are infected with secularism. If there's a problem for Conservative Judaism, it's that the people who do affiliate with the Conservative movement are mostly secularists, whereas the rabbis have a philosophy that's closer to Orthodoxy. This problem could be solved by changing the attitude of either the rabbinic leadership or the lay membership.

. . .

The root problem is a way of looking at life that has rendered God marginal.

. . .

In order to understand the peculiar behavior of Jews over the past two centuries, we need to consider our interactions with a hostile, Christian Europe during the past 200 years. For centuries, Jews had been sequestered from non-Jews, living in their own communities or within small towns, shtetlakh. The French Revolution, and, more generally, the Enlightenment, brought with it the doctrine that all men are equal, and even the people who heretofore had been very


Hostile, Christian Europe during the past 200 years - Over the past 200 years, “Christian” Europe (and America, for that matter) has become progressively less Christian and less hostile to Jews. The Holocaust is obviously an exception, but I believe it was an aberration and not reflective of the general social trend over this period.

The French Revolution, and, more generally, the Enlightenment, brought with it the doctrine that all men are equal, and even the people who heretofore had been very unequal, like the Jews, had to be treated equally.

Jews had to be treated equally -- More importantly, individual Jews now relate to the general government directly, rather than through the self-governing, semi-autonomous Jewish communities. This is the essential dilemma of the Jewish people in the modern era – how to maintain a Jewish identity when it’s not forced on you.

This was a big problem for Christian Europe. However hostile the landscape, Jews sought to make integration a reality through accommodation.


We were deemed cliquish, so we abandoned Jewish nationhood.

We abandoned Jewish nationhood -- Actually, Jewish nationhood was taken from us by the authorities, who now prefer to deal with their subjects as individual citizens rather than members of a corporate class or internal sub-nation. The modern era has taken the “middleman” (in the case of the Jews, the autonomous kehilla) out of government. However, I suspect that most modern Jews have seen that as liberation, not as a loss.

We were dismissed as uncultured, so we became prominent supporters of the arts.

We were thought of as linguistically challenged, so we shunned Yiddish.

And since we were hell-bound due to our Judaism, we exercised various options in getting “undamned.”

We exercised various options in getting “undamned.” -- I find it hard to believe that many Jews ever worried about going to Hell because they didn't accept Jesus. It might be one of the few points of philosophy that unite Orthodox, secular, Reform, and Conservative Jews. Jews know that rejecting Christianity is not a ticket to Hell; they’re certainly not going to modify Judaism because they’re worried of what Christians think on that regard.

One option was to convert to Christianity.

Another option was to reform Judaism to render it acceptable to the Gentile world.

And one option was to opt out entirely

One option -- The option to reform Judaism to make it palatable to Jews who found it hard to accept many traditional practices, attitudes, and beliefs in the light of scientific evidence and modern philosophical thought has been omitted from this list. This is making Judaism acceptable to secularist Jews, not making it acceptable to the Gentile world.

In order to secure our future as Conservative Jews, we have to reclaim our Jewishness with vigor. We need not abandon secularism, but we must take charge of it.

We need not abandon secularism, but we must take charge of it. --This statement is a total contradiction. The point seems to be that secularism allegedly dilutes religious Jewish commitment. Conservative Judaism is a religious movement. The obvious implication is that if Conservative Judaism is to survive into the future, Conservative Jews will need to abandon secularism. Period. Don't beat around the bush, Rabbi Rank! Sure, saying this will alienate your membership, and possibly cause problems at contract renewal time, but if you aren't willing to stick to your guns, keep quiet.

Most Jews who belong to our synagogues believe in God, but it is most likely the God of Newton, Einstein, and Watson

Newton, Einstein, And Watson – Newton's religious views may be closer to traditional Christianity than you give him credit for, Einstein's main contribution to theology was his remark that “God doesn't play dice with the universe,” and, as far as I know, Watson's religious views are unknown, at least to me.

It is a God Who has set up the universe but does not intervene in its workings;

a God Who commands all people, but not One Who commands Jews.

A God who commands all peoples, but does not command the Jews -- A God “Who has set up the universe but does not intervene in its workings” is not a God who would command any people, let alone Jews.

a God Who may be out there somewhere, but not One Who is right here, right now.


In order to reclaim the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Reclaim the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob – Do we really want to “reclaim” such a God?


  • The God of Abraham, who promised Abraham his descendants would be a great Nation, when all Abraham asked for was an heir (Gen 15:2-6), and the God to commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen 22);

  • The God of Isaac, who was more interested in ensuring that Isaac stayed in the Land of Canaan (Gen. 26:2-5), than in providing guidance to Isaac and Esau about what behavior was needed in order to pass on Isaac's tradition (Gen 25:27-34);

  • The God of Jacob, who, again, was more worried about His prestige than about the fact that Jacob was raising his children in a manner that would cause dissension and heartbreak (Gen 37).


I think I'll stick with the “God of Newton,” thank you.

the God Who took us out of the House of Bondage,

The God who took us out of the House of Bondage – God's actions with regard to the liberation of the Israelites showed that He was mainly interested in upholding His prestige against Pharaoh and demonstrating His power to the nations of the world.(Ex 3:19-21;Ex 10:1-2;Ex 15:14-16). Helping the Israelites was a secondary objective, and, as the story unfolds, was conditional on the Jews accepting an onerous Divine Law under duress. (The children of Israel were underneath Mount Sinai and God threatended to drop the mountain on them if they didn't accept the Torah. -- Don't take my word for it, the story is in the Talmud.)

we must abandon three dangerous theological myths.


The first is belief in a God who utters only universal truths but cannot speak to Jews in particular.

This is a repetition of the theme that the God of Newton must be abandoned.

The second damaging theological myth is the accusation that God is uninvolved in our lives.

Another screed against the God of Newton, what makes this one any different from the first "myth?"

Unfortunately, it’s the abuse of freedom that forever reminds us just how free we are. We are free to abuse God’s home and God’s creatures. It is Torah that teaches us to make better choices.


We may be angry with God, but when we curse God, we do irreparable damage to Judaism. Through our curses of God, we, in a sense, render God impotent. By rendering God impotent, we make God irrelevant. By making God irrelevant, we undermine the entire foundation of mitzvot upon which Conservative Judaism rests

We render God impotent – It's not our curses that render God impotent, it's God's lack of response to our curses that demonstrate His impotence.

We undermine the entire foundation of mitzvot -- The foundation of the mitzvot is not our fear of God's power, it's that we find personal benefit from the mizvot.

The third damaging theological myth is that God does not care about our ritual lives.

God does not care about our ritual lives -- What evidence is there that God cares about our ritual lives?

If that same young man made fun of an African tribal rite, he would have been met with a chorus of righteous indignation. But Jews criticize halakhic practice with impunity.

African tribal rite -- This line of argument is one of the oldest red herrings in the book. It's one thing to be outwardly respectful of other people's rituals, even if you personally believe they're nonsense. It's quite another thing for someone to sit quietly by when fanatic members of your own community are forcing observance of rituals that you believe have no value or basis in the tradition. As an example, I'll point out the typical Conservative rabbi's attitude toward the requirement to eat only glatt kosher meat or Yoshon baked goods, or tovel their plates and silverware. “Everybody stricter than me is a fanatic; everybody more lenient is a heretic.”


Will there be Conservative Judaism 20 years from now? I would say that we not only have a future, but we have an opportunity to re-create ourselves in such a way as to revitalize the lure of the center.


But the way we go about securing the future is by reinventing the present. What we really need is a program of Reverse Assimilation2 in which we look back to the lives of our Great Bubbes and our Great Zeydes3 and figure out which part of the baby we inadvertently threw out with the bath water. God will most certainly bless the work of our hands, but our hands have a lot of work to do.



Reverse Assimilation – In other words, in order for Conservative Judaism to survive, it must become more like Orthodox Judaism. Stop beating around the bush and at least be honest with your readers.

Our Great Bubbes and our Great Zeydes – My paternal grandparents were both completely secular freethinkers. My maternal grandparents eventually affiliated with the Conservative movement, but my formerly Orthodox grandfather made a lot of compromises with his religious practices. If these people, who saw firsthand traditional Jewish life in the shtedl, assimilated, why would one expect anyone of our generation to want to reclaim it? Frankly, having read historical accounts of Jewish life in the shtedl, I believe that it was all pretty much bathwater, the baby had the good sense to get on the first boat to America.

8 Comments:

Blogger Mis-nagid said...

"Einstein's main contribution to theology was his remark that “God doesn't play dice with the universe,”"

Einstein said a lot more than that.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Joseph said...

"Einstein, stop telling God what to do." --- Niels Bohr

10:51 PM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

>Mis-nagid said...

(quoting me)

>> "Einstein's main contribution to >>theology was his remark that “God >>doesn't play dice with the >>universe,”"

Einstein said a lot more than that.

Thanks for the link. To be quite honest, I don't know much about the theological views of the major scientists, they don't teach that to science students. I somehow know that

1) Newton was something of a mystic,

2) Darwin was educated as a CoE (Anglican) mminister,

3) Nicholas Steno (a Renaissance-era geologist who developed some of the principles of stratigraphy that provided the initial evidence for an ancient earth. He was also one of the first people to figure out that fossils were, well, fossils.): He essentially abandoned science after converting to Roman Catholicism in 1677, and became an ordained priest.

4)A geology prof of mine, who peppered his lectures with quite skeptical comments, once mentioned in passing that he was an active member of a local Methodist church

5) another geology prof of mine, who was a Mormon bishop, had no problem teaching us historical geology, evolution, and radiometric dating. His description of the theology of creation was particulalrly interesting. Basically he implied that God's revelation to Moses was 100% scientifically accurate, but wither Moses or the Children of Israel just couldn't understand the concepts involved (or were freaked out by them), that they came up with the current mythos we now have in our hands.

6) Richard Feynmann was most definitely an apikoris, though he did occasionally lecture on physics to the Men's club at his father's Reform Temple.




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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Well, of course, Rabbi Rank might have a personal interest in how many Jews affiliate with the Conservative movement in 20 years because, after all, someone has to pay into the Rabbi's Retirement Fund."

The Rabbinical Assembly never pays its president or past-presidents. If Rabbi Rank needs money, he wouldn't be dedicated to Conservative Jewry; he'd probably be in banking or something else. Your joke stinks.

"But Rabbi Rank's views are sentimentalistic, guilt-tripping, and inconsistent, not the best way to attract and keep members."

I believe that religion needs passion; what's wrong with a little sentimentalism? Also, I wasn't offended when reading Rabbi Rank's article, so I'm not sure what the guilt-tripping is you're talking about. I'm not sure what inconsistency you're referring to, unless you're talking about paradoxes that Conservative Jews have to deal with, but paradoxes aren't evidence of inconsistency: they're evidence of challenge.

"But don't take my work for it,"

Alright, I won't take your WORK for it. Seriously, I hardly take your word for it...

"There is another statistic that the Jewish community must ponder these days,
and that is the number of children who will receive no religious education. The statistics are interesting. They show growth in the area of Reform Judaism, but they also show growth in zero Judaism – that is, Jews who feel no need to identify with any one denomination or give their children any religious education. What is that all about?
Zero Judaism ... religious education -- “Not identifying with any one Jewish denomination” is not the same as “Zero Judaism.” Of course, I would understand why the leaders of the institutions of a Jewish denomination might be worried that Jews would try to make a Jewish life outside of a denomination."


You've totally misread what Rabbi Rank wrote. He intends by "Zero Judaism" people who do not affiliate with a movement and, thereby, do not give their children a religious education.

"What it is, is secularism. Secularism is an approach to life in which God is, at best, marginal if not completely absent from the way in which we arrive at our decisions and our moral posturing. God’s chosen have become a profoundly secular group. That is not to say that we are atheists, but even when we believe in God, the belief does not manifest itself in any practical, measurable way
Secularism – It is not a problem for Conservative Judaism that those who wish not to affiliate with a Jewish religious denomination are infected with secularism. If there's a problem for Conservative Judaism, it's that the people who do affiliate with the Conservative movement are mostly secularists, whereas the rabbis have a philosophy that's closer to Orthodoxy. This problem could be solved by changing the attitude of either the rabbinic leadership or the lay membership."


That's statistically the stupidest argument I've ever heard. It's simple math and sociology that over 60% of any given organized population will be intermediately involved and 20% not involved at all while 20% will be more involved. Of course most Conservative Jews are secularists in this Conservative-Jewish-observant/secular binary. This problem isn't being solved by your blog blasting the leadership. As a lay person myself, I give myself the right to blast you: I'm just an anonymous blogger like you with nothing else to do.

". . .
The root problem is a way of looking at life that has rendered God marginal.
. . .
In order to understand the peculiar behavior of Jews over the past two centuries, we need to consider our interactions with a hostile, Christian Europe during the past 200 years. For centuries, Jews had been sequestered from non-Jews, living in their own communities or within small towns, shtetlakh. The French Revolution, and, more generally, the Enlightenment, brought with it the doctrine that all men are equal, and even the people who heretofore had been very



Hostile, Christian Europe during the past 200 years - Over the past 200 years, “Christian” Europe (and America, for that matter) has become progressively less Christian and less hostile to Jews. The Holocaust is obviously an exception, but I believe it was an aberration and not reflective of the general social trend over this period."


Calling the Holocaust an exception?! What about the case of Alfred Dreyfus? What about the Soviet Union? What about Mussolini? What about everything else you're ignoring, doofus?

"This was a big problem for Christian Europe. However hostile the landscape, Jews sought to make integration a reality through accommodation.

We were deemed cliquish, so we abandoned Jewish nationhood.
We abandoned Jewish nationhood -- Actually, Jewish nationhood was taken from us by the authorities, who now prefer to deal with their subjects as individual citizens rather than members of a corporate class or internal sub-nation. The modern era has taken the “middleman” (in the case of the Jews, the autonomous kehilla) out of government. However, I suspect that most modern Jews have seen that as liberation, not as a loss."


Jewish nationhood wasn't solely taken from us by authorities; if you really believe that the Jews had no part in us losing our unity, then you must have the IQ of a vacuum cleaner. Don't forget that the synagogue was created as a social organization, not as a place necessarily for prayer. When the kehillah and all the other Jewish governments disbanded in Europe, why didn't the Jews stick together better? We have made errors.

"We were dismissed as uncultured, so we became prominent supporters of the arts.
We were thought of as linguistically challenged, so we shunned Yiddish.
And since we were hell-bound due to our Judaism, we exercised various options in getting “undamned.”
We exercised various options in getting “undamned.” -- I find it hard to believe that many Jews ever worried about going to Hell because they didn't accept Jesus. It might be one of the few points of philosophy that unite Orthodox, secular, Reform, and Conservative Jews. Jews know that rejecting Christianity is not a ticket to Hell; they’re certainly not going to modify Judaism because they’re worried of what Christians think on that regard."


You might find it hard to believe, but you should actually study some history for a change - I know that it would be hard for you but I think you can do it. There's a LOT of evidence of Jews converting to Christianity or losing their Jewish identity - out of fear of Hell, death, or simply being a social and cultural outcast. (And, for some, there is no difference between being religiously and socially rejected.) That rabbinic ideal of giving your life rather than worshipping a foreign god wasn't necessarily the ideal of a lay person. In fact, it never convinced Felix Mendelssohn, Bob Dylan, Benjamin Disraeli, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, and many many others.

"One option was to convert to Christianity.
Another option was to reform Judaism to render it acceptable to the Gentile world.
And one option was to opt out entirely
One option -- The option to reform Judaism to make it palatable to Jews who found it hard to accept many traditional practices, attitudes, and beliefs in the light of scientific evidence and modern philosophical thought has been omitted from this list. This is making Judaism acceptable to secularist Jews, not making it acceptable to the Gentile world."

I accuse you, sir, of circular (il)logic. The secularist Jews come from the social pressure of the secular and gentile world. There is nothing inherently Jewish that leads to secularism.

"In order to secure our future as Conservative Jews, we have to reclaim our Jewishness with vigor. We need not abandon secularism, but we must take charge of it.
We need not abandon secularism, but we must take charge of it. --This statement is a total contradiction. The point seems to be that secularism allegedly dilutes religious Jewish commitment. Conservative Judaism is a religious movement. The obvious implication is that if Conservative Judaism is to survive into the future, Conservative Jews will need to abandon secularism. Period. Don't beat around the bush, Rabbi Rank! Sure, saying this will alienate your membership, and possibly cause problems at contract renewal time, but if you aren't willing to stick to your guns, keep quiet."


Again, you've read Rabbi Rank's article ridiculously idiotically. I know you can't help it though. Conservative Judaism has always been about integrating the secular world into the Jewish world: not the other way around. Seriously, if you're going to write these long blog posts, you should at least figure out what you're analyzing first.


"Most Jews who belong to our synagogues believe in God, but it is most likely the God of Newton, Einstein, and Watson
Newton, Einstein, And Watson – Newton's religious views may be closer to traditional Christianity than you give him credit for, Einstein's main contribution to theology was his remark that “God doesn't play dice with the universe,” and, as far as I know, Watson's religious views are unknown, at least to me."

And many Conservative Jews do picture Conservative Jewish theology as like Christianity with some wit and a lot of obscurity: not so different from what you're saying. Listen to yourself sometimes because you contradict yourself. You're losing credibility by the minute here: especially in your community as a few of us already have figured you out. (Note: you may as well not blog anonymously and cowardly anymore.)

"It is a God Who has set up the universe but does not intervene in its workings;
a God Who commands all people, but not One Who commands Jews.
A God who commands all peoples, but does not command the Jews -- A God “Who has set up the universe but does not intervene in its workings” is not a God who would command any people, let alone Jews."


This is the dumbest commentary I've ever read on an article. A God who has set up the universe and doesn't intervene in its working is a God who doesn't play with the weather, the way the planets rotate, revolve, etc.: this is not a reference to a God who cannot speak to humans.

"a God Who may be out there somewhere, but not One Who is right here, right now.

In order to reclaim the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
Reclaim the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob – Do we really want to “reclaim” such a God?



The God of Abraham, who promised Abraham his descendants would be a great Nation, when all Abraham asked for was an heir (Gen 15:2-6), and the God to commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen 22);

The God of Isaac, who was more interested in ensuring that Isaac stayed in the Land of Canaan (Gen. 26:2-5), than in providing guidance to Isaac and Esau about what behavior was needed in order to pass on Isaac's tradition (Gen 25:27-34);

The God of Jacob, who, again, was more worried about His prestige than about the fact that Jacob was raising his children in a manner that would cause dissension and heartbreak (Gen 37).



I think I'll stick with the “God of Newton,” thank you."


Please check your grammar on the God of Abraham thing: aside from being a sophomoric argument altogether (as if you've never reconciled the binding of Isaac [not a sacrifice, which you as a literalist should have noted actually]), your writing "and the God to commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son" makes zero sense. Also, you're discussing Semitic mythology: you're not talking about the God of reason and the God of the covenant necessarily. There are multiple theological tendencies in the Torah. I understand it's hard for you to get into all this Jewish learning stuff with your Christian beliefs though, so I'll forgive you there.

"the God Who took us out of the House of Bondage,
The God who took us out of the House of Bondage – God's actions with regard to the liberation of the Israelites showed that He was mainly interested in upholding His prestige against Pharaoh and demonstrating His power to the nations of the world.(Ex 3:19-21;Ex 10:1-2;Ex 15:14-16). Helping the Israelites was a secondary objective, and, as the story unfolds, was conditional on the Jews accepting an onerous Divine Law under duress. (The children of Israel were underneath Mount Sinai and God threatended to drop the mountain on them if they didn't accept the Torah. -- Don't take my word for it, the story is in the Talmud.)

God was actually primarily saving the Israelites; it had little to do with Pharoah: unless you like reading things that arent' written down, which generally you seem to. That story by the way about the children of Israel under Mount Sinai is a rabbinic myth that does not fit in with what the Torah teaches us and that envisions a God that did not necessarily take us out of the House of Bondage.

"we must abandon three dangerous theological myths.

The first is belief in a God who utters only universal truths but cannot speak to Jews in particular.
This is a repetition of the theme that the God of Newton must be abandoned."

It's not actually. It's saying we should believe that God can say to observe Shabbat and not to murder. You must have been on shrooms while reading this if you actually read the words "Newton" or "secularism" somewhere in that sentence.

"The second damaging theological myth is the accusation that God is uninvolved in our lives.
Another screed against the God of Newton, what makes this one any different from the first "myth?""

The difference here is that the first "myth" was a belief of theory; this one is of practice. Because you misread the first "myth", you also misread the second "myth"; and you managed to read the same "myth" in both "myths". You're really a terrible reader.

"Unfortunately, it’s the abuse of freedom that forever reminds us just how free we are. We are free to abuse God’s home and God’s creatures. It is Torah that teaches us to make better choices.

We may be angry with God, but when we curse God, we do irreparable damage to Judaism. Through our curses of God, we, in a sense, render God impotent. By rendering God impotent, we make God irrelevant. By making God irrelevant, we undermine the entire foundation of mitzvot upon which Conservative Judaism rests
We render God impotent – It's not our curses that render God impotent, it's God's lack of response to our curses that demonstrate His impotence."

Not really. You should keep reading on maybe and give God a break and realize that God made you in God's image; try and act like God for a minute or two and realize that YOU and humans can do something in the world: not just God, you wimp.

"We undermine the entire foundation of mitzvot -- The foundation of the mitzvot is not our fear of God's power, it's that we find personal benefit from the mizvot."
Maybe you should listen to what Chancellor Arnie Eisen of JTS is saying these days about the concept of mitzvah. Also, you should probably get some serious therapy.

"The third damaging theological myth is that God does not care about our ritual lives.
God does not care about our ritual lives -- What evidence is there that God cares about our ritual lives?"

You evidently don't know how to make your ritual life meaningful if you haven't felt the evidence yet. Go out and practice some Judaism - and social skills.

"If that same young man made fun of an African tribal rite, he would have been met with a chorus of righteous indignation. But Jews criticize halakhic practice with impunity.
African tribal rite -- This line of argument is one of the oldest red herrings in the book. It's one thing to be outwardly respectful of other people's rituals, even if you personally believe they're nonsense. It's quite another thing for someone to sit quietly by when fanatic members of your own community are forcing observance of rituals that you believe have no value or basis in the tradition. As an example, I'll point out the typical Conservative rabbi's attitude toward the requirement to eat only glatt kosher meat or Yoshon baked goods, or tovel their plates and silverware. “Everybody stricter than me is a fanatic; everybody more lenient is a heretic.”"

You lost me here, and I think you lost your audience too. Did you notice that, at the time of my writing, you only have 7 comments in response to this since February 24, 2005? Approximately half of the comments are responses (one of them being your own response), and approximately half of them are spam. Nobody listens to you. You should take down this site and save some cyberspace for something more important.

"Will there be Conservative Judaism 20 years from now? I would say that we not only have a future, but we have an opportunity to re-create ourselves in such a way as to revitalize the lure of the center.

But the way we go about securing the future is by reinventing the present. What we really need is a program of Reverse Assimilation2 in which we look back to the lives of our Great Bubbes and our Great Zeydes3 and figure out which part of the baby we inadvertently threw out with the bath water. God will most certainly bless the work of our hands, but our hands have a lot of work to do.


Reverse Assimilation – In other words, in order for Conservative Judaism to survive, it must become more like Orthodox Judaism. Stop beating around the bush and at least be honest with your readers."


There is nothing here about Orthodox Judaism. You should start reading these articles right, get a job, get a life, and stop blogging. It's the shaky pillars of the community like you that are the biggest challenges to Conservative Judaism.

"Our Great Bubbes and our Great Zeydes – My paternal grandparents were both completely secular freethinkers. My maternal grandparents eventually affiliated with the Conservative movement, but my formerly Orthodox grandfather made a lot of compromises with his religious practices. If these people, who saw firsthand traditional Jewish life in the shtedl, assimilated, why would one expect anyone of our generation to want to reclaim it? Frankly, having read historical accounts of Jewish life in the shtedl, I believe that it was all pretty much bathwater, the baby had the good sense to get on the first boat to America."

The keyword above is "inadvertently"... it's not that we consciously lose the religion; it's that sometimes we don't notice we've lost it.

Quit being an ignorant blogger, and start being a knowledgeable human.

11:07 AM  

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