Thursday, March 03, 2005

The rise and fall of a Conservative BT - part 2

-- Our story unfolds...

Encouraged by Conservative Jewish e-mail listservs that appeared to show that there was a core of Conservative Jews who were committed to living the halachic lifestyle, my wife and I bgean our quest.

In some ways this quest was made easier by the fact that we were living in a large city with a large Orthodox Jewish population. Heck, we even lived inside the eruvv (and our shul was also inside the eruv.) No problem finding a kosher butcher, baker, or even candlestick maker. And we were having a great time at the shul, where the people were very friendly and appreciated active new memebers, even if they weren't millionaires. (In fact, I'm not sure if we have any really rich people in our shul, which still suits me fine.)

So before long we had our kitchen duly kashered under the auspices of an Orthodox outreach organization. Why Orthodox? One, the Conservatives are behind the 8-ball on this and don't offer the service. We not only had a rabbinic consultant review our kicthcen and equipment and make a plan for us, we had another rabbi, who taught in a yeshiva, come over and personally help me boil the plates and pots and blowtorch the sink. You try and imagine your typical RA rabbi wearing rubber gloves and fishing spoons out of a kettle of boiling water. The other reason what that this Orthodox outreach organization had a deal with the local kosher butcher to provide a $100 coupon for anyone who kashered their kitchen under the organizarion's auspices. Ideological purity is all well and good, but $100 is still $100.

These guys even prevailed upon us to tovel our dishes in the community mikveh. (The special mikveh for toveling, you wise guys!) You should know the traditional attitude in the Conservative movement to this custom can be summarized by the word "obsolesecent."

"Numerous illustrations may be cited of laws and practices which have become so obsolescent that few, if any, Jewish leaders would now campaign for their reintroduction. Thus, the prohibition against milk and bread made by Gentiles, the requirement to dip newly purchased dishes in the mikveh, or to abstain from newly harvetsted grains, chodosh, are esamples of laws that the quietly lapsed." -- Rabbis Morris Adler, Jacob Agus, and Theodore Freidman, A responsum on the Sabbath, 1950

"Quietly lapsed?! " Not among the black hatter frum in my town. And, tell the truth, the toveling is actually a pretty neat ritual. It's kind of like converting your dishes, even the German knives, to Judaism. But 1950 was a different time, and the Conservative rabbis were worried about different things than they are today.

Now the kitchen was kosher, and we were already Shabbos regulars at shul. The next thing was that we were going to be Shomer Shabbat, in the spirit of Conservative Judaism. That did not mean that we were going to drive to shul, despite the so-called pseudo-"permission" given in the Adler-Agus-Friedman responsum cited earlier. In fact, I read the responsum and found it to be one of the few Conservative halachic pieces that was less than convincing. But I also read Rabbi Neulander's responsum on electircity and found its logic comprelling, so we had no problems with using the light switches. Hey, we were trying to be frum Conservative Jews, not drive ourselves crazy.

So started our new lifestyle. Friday night started for me with a shot of some sort of distilled spirits, which help lift my spirits as I puttered about the kitchen cooking Shabbos dinner. Then kiddush, the full ritual, with the singing of Shalom Aleichem, Eishet hayil, belssing the kids, kiddush, washing hands, motzi, more ways of cooking chicken than I care to think about, accompanied by hekhshered wine, dessert, slivovitz, and bentshing. We tried to learn z'miros, but no one in my family can carry a tune. Eventually, I figured out a reasonable approximation of Yom Zeh Mechubad and Mi Pi El. Sometimes I would read the weekly parsha, but this stopped after I read the story of Jacob and Esau and started sympathizing with Esau, who got royally screwed by his rather insensitive father. (What can I say, I have father issues. Maybe I should worry, because, after all, I am a father.) Come on, Isaac, what do you mean, you only have one blessing to give?

Anyway, I would go to bed with a nice buzz. Shabbos is about the only time I drink and get a bzz like that. But I would wake up in the morning, and walk to shul, get there on time and pray my head off. Then kiddush and schmoozing, and home for a traditional Shabbos lunch (we even made choulent sometimes! How many Conservatives do you know who make choulent?), a traditional shabbos nap, a traditional shabbos walk, shalosh seudos, and finaly havdalah. OK, so we never made it back to shul for mincha and ma'ariv unless we were visiting frum Orthodox neighbors and stayed late enough to attend their minyan out of courtesy. But, believe me, we were pretty frum for Conservatives.

But, alas, these spiritual heights, while attained, could not be maintaned. In our next installment, you'll get to hear why we started our downward spiral.

-to be continued.

8 Comments:

Blogger Barefoot Jewess said...

Dear CA,

I have been waiting for the next installment of your story.

Even if it's only me, I hope that you know that there is some interest. Cause as of now, wow, I am impressed and inspired by your devotion. That's all I'll say for now.

So, what went wrong?

4:36 PM  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

OK, ok, we'll wait 'til after Pesach. After that, well, let's just say that I'm hereby issuing an official "nagging ahead" alert. You have been warned. :)

4:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the next installment? I'm right with you to this point, but we went the other direction and became orthodox. Having been reform, conservative and orthodox, now I'm just middle aged and mixed up....

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be making stupid assumptions, or you must be crazy. Our Conservative rabbi has made homes kosher.

Also, plenty of Conservative Jews make cholent. You must spend all your time alone; otherwise you'd be aware of that.

4:27 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

tiffany and co, louboutin, michael kors, burberry, christian louboutin outlet, ugg boots, louboutin pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, ugg boots, uggs on sale, polo ralph lauren outlet, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton outlet, chanel handbags, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses, kate spade outlet, louboutin shoes, tory burch outlet, oakley sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton, nike free, prada outlet, louis vuitton outlet, gucci outlet, longchamp pas cher, jordan shoes, oakley sunglasses, sac longchamp, air max, oakley sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet, nike free, nike air max, longchamp, louboutin outlet, longchamp outlet, ray ban sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, nike air max, prada handbags, nike roshe run, replica watches, replica watches, air jordan pas cher, tiffany jewelry, louis vuitton, nike outlet, ray ban sunglasses

9:18 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

north face, nike free run uk, air force, michael kors outlet, hogan, nike blazer, burberry, michael kors outlet, true religion jeans, nike air max, converse pas cher, hermes, nike air max, kate spade handbags, mulberry, coach purses, vans pas cher, tn pas cher, north face, true religion jeans, lululemon, michael kors outlet, sac guess, burberry outlet online, nike roshe, true religion outlet, new balance pas cher, timberland, oakley pas cher, michael kors, michael kors, vanessa bruno, coach outlet, hollister, replica handbags, hollister pas cher, ray ban pas cher, ray ban uk, coach outlet, ugg boots, true religion jeans, abercrombie and fitch, nike air max, michael kors, michael kors, michael kors outlet, ralph lauren uk, lacoste pas cher, michael kors outlet, ugg boots

9:21 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

nike roshe, reebok shoes, north face outlet, nfl jerseys, timberland boots, mont blanc, asics running shoes, iphone 5s cases, insanity workout, ghd, beats by dre, babyliss, mac cosmetics, valentino shoes, wedding dresses, iphone 6s cases, iphone 6 cases, nike trainers, celine handbags, iphone 6 plus cases, longchamp, abercrombie and fitch, ferragamo shoes, birkin bag, iphone 6s plus cases, soccer jerseys, nike air max, oakley, bottega veneta, lululemon, chi flat iron, s5 cases, jimmy choo shoes, nike huarache, hollister, vans shoes, ipad cases, north face outlet, giuseppe zanotti, mcm handbags, nike air max, iphone cases, herve leger, hollister, instyler, new balance, louboutin, soccer shoes, p90x workout, baseball bats, hollister, ralph lauren

9:25 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton, pandora charms, hollister, moncler, doudoune canada goose, pandora charms, marc jacobs, replica watches, barbour jackets, moncler, canada goose uk, barbour, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, louis vuitton, juicy couture outlet, canada goose, montre pas cher, swarovski, canada goose outlet, ugg pas cher, converse outlet, canada goose, canada goose outlet, pandora jewelry, karen millen, louis vuitton, ugg boots uk, moncler, moncler, swarovski crystal, lancel, thomas sabo, moncler, links of london, ray ban, louis vuitton, sac louis vuitton pas cher, vans, gucci, wedding dresses, coach outlet, canada goose, canada goose, bottes ugg, moncler, converse, pandora jewelry, moncler outlet, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, toms shoes, moncler, supra shoes

9:28 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home