Talk:Conservative Judaism

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"Heirs to the tradition"[edit]

If I am not mistaken, Conservative Judaism claims to be "heirs to the tradition" of original Judaism and Orthodox Judaism is a right-wing perversion. Is this true? If it is, and Maimonidies was then what would now be referred to as Conservative, how could Conservative Jews not accept that the Torah is a product of direct divine revelation, something Maimonidies asserts? Does Conservative Judaism claim that this assertion is not really his? DRosenbach (Talk | Contribs) 14:34, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

This is a serious question dressed up in a lot of confusion. Maimonides is not and never should be considered Conservative or Orthodox. Such designations are purely anachronistic. Maimonidies's code is not considered binding for Consrevative Jews nor is it binding on Orthodox Jews. Maimonidies was put in Herem for his philosophical writings; Orthodox practice is based on Karo's Shulkhan Arukh. As regards his principles of faith -- these were not universally accepted either. There were other formulations before and after Maimonides. Most controversial was his insistence that a person may not beleive that God has a corporeal form. All the Maimonidiean stuff aside - I think Rosenbach is asking a fundamental question regarding Conservative Judaism. How can Conservative Judaism believe itself to be "traditional" when the historicity of long held and "fundamental" beliefs are questioned or sometimes rejected? I think the answer lies in what it means to be "Traditional". The meaning of "tradition" is probably different to those with an orthodix bent versus a conservative bent. Perhaps an expert in Conservative Judaism could help enlighten Mr. Rosenbach.Guedalia D'Montenegro (talk) 17:09, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

I believe that D. Rosenbach is partially mistaken. Conservative Jews do not Consider all of Orthodox Judaism as a "right-wing perversion". Conservative Jews do view all of Orthodox Judaism, in general, as having made certain errors about the nature of Jewish theology and practice, but nonetheless view most of Orthodoxy as nonetheless a mainstream part of historic Judaism, and fully legitimate. Many Conservative Jews view Haredi Judaism as a right-wing distortion. Haredi rabbis and theologians are often considered to be grossly ill-informed about Jewish history and practice, and their practices and beliefs are recognized by non-Orthodox Jews as being an ill-informed innovation, a series of right-wing reforms that (Conservative Jews believe) seriously distort Jewish practice and theology. RK (talk) 15:31, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

If Conservative Judaism is the conserving of what reform took out, then how could it be more accurate than the Orthodox? Conservative has and constantly does openly change things from the original tradition. After all the movement is only 100 yrs old or so. The orthodox tradition is over 3,000 yrs old and is the progenitor to both reform of conservative. How then can Conservative Judaism claim to be "heirs to the tradition" of original Judaism, when we all know that they moved away from the original tradition. While I agree that "Maimonides is not and never should be considered Conservative or Orthodox." thats only because the denominations didn't exist. There were just 2 denominations, those Jews who lived a Torah life and those who did not, all modern variations are variants of the original. Only Orthodox judaism claims to never have change anything from the Torah, and thus believes that Moses, and the prophets all the way down to Maimonides lived most like the orthodox do today than any other denomination of Judaism that openly deviated from the original tradition — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:22, 23 September 2011 (UTC)


The article says:

"rabbis in our day and age are empowered to issue takhanot (decrees)"

"Takhanot" is a strange word. "Takhana" (תחנה) means "station". The word "takkana" (תקנה) may be appropriate in this context, but i am not 100% sure. Can anyone please clarify that? --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 15:43, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes, the word in the article is a typo. It should read takkanot. RK (talk) 15:33, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

"are not allowed to perform"[edit]

The article says:

"Conservative Rabbis are not allowed to perform intermarriages"

This is unclear. Who can allow or disallow this? Don't the rabbis decide about this themselves in a council, or maybe according to their own conscience?

If major organizations of Conservative rabbis have decided to not allow their members to perform intermarriages, it must be stated clearly which organization have decided it. If there is no such decision, but in practice Conservative rabbis do not do it, then the article must say so clearly: "Conservative Rabbis do not perform intermarriages" and a source must be provided.

Thanks in advance for clarification. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 16:22, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Hi! This decision, holding that a Conservative synagogue is prohibitted from hosting a reception or party related to an intermarriage, begins with a mention of a Standard of Rabbinic Practice prohibiting Rabbinical Assembly members from being present at an intermarriage. In Conservative Judaism, standards, like Jewish law, are set by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 05:36, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 16:12, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Major terminology change: Conservative Judaism is not the Conservative movement[edit]

This may interest editors of this article. I propose that we need to make a subtle, but important terminology change in this article, and in other articles closely related to this subject. The Conservative movement is a very widely used term in the Jewish community for a subset of Conservative Judaism.

The phrase Conservative Judaism refers to a rather broad religious movement within Judaism. Many statements by Conservative rabbis (especially Ismar Schorsch and Jack Wertheimer), academic Jewish scholars, such as Daniel J. Elazar and Rela M. Geffen, as well as many Orthodox rabbis recognize that Conservative Judaism is more than just groups formally affiliated with the Conservative movement. Schorsch and Wertheimer have repeatedly noted that most of Conservative Judaism's most recognized success stories involve people who choose not to formally join the Conservative movement. They include in this category the Union for Traditional Judaism, the Chavurah movement, non-affiliated traditional synagogues, and many synagogues which advertise as being "non-denominational".

  • The Union for Traditional Judaism is especially important to note: At the time that this group came into being, they clearly stated that they were still practicing Conservative Judaism; they simply were disaffiliating from the Conservative movement. Since that time they have not changed their halakhic practices or their theology. So how are they not still Conservative Judaism? In fact, they are still Conservative Judaism - and their synagogues still use Conservative siddurim and machzorim (e.g. the Silverman edition); they still use Conservative Jewish texts from JTS Press and the Rabbinical Assembly, and they still use Isaac Klein's Guide to Jewish Religious Practice. (This is why no Orthodox Jewish group formally accepts the UTJ as part of Orthodox Judaism.)
  • A good example of a non-affiliated chavurah that is recognized as Conservative Judaism is Kehilat Hadar, in Manhattan, NY. Most of its members even come from Conservative Jewish homes. A recent article quotes Rabbi Ismar Schorsch. Most interestingly, it quotes a Rabbi Elie Kaufner, who states that it doesn't advertise as being "Conservative" for membership purposes, not for theological or halakhic reasons!
"Hadar is interested in welcoming Jews of all backgrounds," says Elie Kaunfer, one of the congregation's founders and a rabbinical student at JTS. "If Hadar were to call itself Conservative, it would be harder for people who identify as Orthodox or Reform or identify as 'not Conservative' to come. The more you label yourself, the harder it is to cast a wide net."
"The question people are asking today is not, 'How do I become a Conservative Jew?'" Waldoks says. "The question is, 'Why be Jewish?'". Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of JTS, claims that the Conservative movement, which he heads, is the primary source for the religious energy of post-denominationalism. He points to Hadar as an example. "The Hadar movement could not be mistaken for anything but a Conservative synagogue: It's fully egalitarian and seriously Jewish. The ritual is neither Reform nor Orthodox; it's quintessentially Conservative," Schorsch says.
"The young people at Hadar are intellectually Conservative and they are ritually Conservative except they are advanced Conservative Jews rather than entry-level Conservative Jews. They wish to distinguish themselves from the materialistic, bourgeois synagogues of suburbia."
Jerusalem Post Magazine, Feb 11, 2005
  • Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, executive director of Mechon Hadar, in New York, sees the beliefs and practices of Conservative Judaism thriving even while the brand name of the Conservative movement, specifically its institutions, is in a period of decline:
Bemoaning the decline of Conservative Judaism misses the point. This decline is a problem for the survival of Conservative institutions that are supported primarily by brand loyalty. But if the true mission of Conservative Judaism is to foster an engaged and empowered Jewish community with a commitment to Torah and mitzvot, declining affiliation may actually be positive. It signals an age in which Jews care enough about their expression of Judaism to resist an ill-defined label. What is the role for Conservative institutions in this new reality? Three suggestions: Lose the “Label yourself Conservative” mentality. Try instead: We encourage Jews to seek meaningful, empowered engagement with Judaism. Wherever that leads, we trust them, even if it is outside the Conservative menu of options.
  • Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, is quoted in an article about the proliferation of supposedly non-denominational, and certainly non-affiliated minyanim and chavurot. What they have in common is that they are usually led by Conservative Jews, and their practices and theology are also Conservative Judaism. In response to this Rabbi Epstein states:
Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, laments the fact that many minyan participants come from Conservative backgrounds but find the movement lacking as they conceive of their adult prayer experiences. “I think people are really looking for an ideology, many of them, a practice that is somewhere in the framework known as Conservative Judaism, but they don’t find it in their Conservative synagogues,” says Rabbi Epstein, who urges the leaders of minyanim to hold their services in and otherwise affiliate with Conservative synagogues, rather than use the churches or community centers many choose.
Minyanim Grow Up, Turn Inward New York Jewish Week, 11/25/08

This article should recognize that the term Conservative movement refers to a well-defined subset of organizations and individuals that are within Conservative Judaism, such as the Rabbinical Assembly, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and all other organs within the LCCJ.

For a detailed discussion of this issue please see The Conservative Movement in Judaism: Dilemmas and Opportunities, SUNY Press, by Daniel J. Elazar and Rela M. Geffen. RK (talk) 16:21, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Please note that I am not trying to "prove" that all of these movements (Chavurah, UTJ, post-denominational, etc.) are part of Conservative Judaism. In fact, no one can strictly "prove" that any particular group is "truly" Reform, or "truly" Orthodox, either! I have seen countless attacks on Orthodox groups and individuals by other Orthodox Jews; and the same within the Reform Jewish community. Rather, I am saying that we must describe the fact that these groups are widely recognized by both Orthodox and Conservative Jews as being part of Conservative Judaism, even though they are not formally a part of the Conservative Movement. Indeed, that is already what we for Orthodox Judaism: We don't pick one organizations structure (e.g. RIETS, YU and the RCA) and made that equivalent to all of Orthodox Judaism, and then label all other Orthodox groups as non-Orthodox. Rather, we have always defined Orthodox Judaism as a school of thought, with a range of theologies and practices, and then described in an NPOV fashion the groups that are widely recognized as Orthodox. Now we should do the same with Conservative Judaism. RK (talk) 20:14, 7 January 2009 (UTC)


The last three edits made by CharlesMartel have given this a American point of view. However, in view of the extensive work he has done here, I didn't want to summarily revert his edits. Nevertheless, I think this geographical bias must be removed from this article. Debresser (talk) 14:20, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Well, the majority of the edits I made were reorganizational, not related to content. I assume you're refering to the paragraph I added to the introduction parsing the uses of the term "Conservative". I see this as a purely North American issue though, as the term is not used outside the US and Canada; in other countries the term is Masorti. There isn't really an Israeli or British perspective on that particular facet of the article.CharlesMartel (talk) 14:37, 6 September 2009 (UTC)CharlesMartel

I added a qualifier to that paragraph, though.CharlesMartel (talk) 14:43, 6 September 2009 (UTC)CharlesMartel

Unless I am wrong over 90% of Conservative Jews are Americans so I don't think this is a real issue.Benjil (talk) 14:54, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

I do think the article is a little US-centric, though. I'll expand/add sections on the movement in Canada, the United Kingdom and Israel.CharlesMartel (talk) 14:56, 6 September 2009 (UTC)CharlesMartel

By the way, this is an info that is missing from the article. There are no demographics. How much people do identify with Conservative Judaism in the world, in the US, in Israel... ? Someone has some data ? Benjil (talk) 15:00, 6 September 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for your serious attention to this article. Debresser (talk) 15:48, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Alright, I've expanded it, although I still need to add a section "In Other Countries" to cover the Conservative/Masorti communities outside of theUS/UK/Israel. I think we should delete the "Notable Figures" section. It's a sprawling trivia list, and most of the most important are mentioned in context in the article.CharlesMartel (talk) 01:12, 8 September 2009 (UTC)CharlesMartel

Conservative RfC[edit]

Howdy, I just added a section to the article Religious response to ART addressing the views of the Conservative Jewish movement. Can someone here fact check it for me or maybe offer additional input from the perspective of the conservative movement? Not being in the movement limits my perspective and knowledge. Thank you, Joe407 (talk) 06:30, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Major principles at top of article[edit]

The start of the article lists four principles apparently drawn from Emet Ve-Emunah:

  • A deliberately non-fundamentalist teaching of Jewish principles of faith;
  • A positive attitude toward modern culture;
  • An acceptance of both traditional rabbinic modes of study and modern scholarship and critical text study when considering Jewish religious texts; and
  • A commitment to the authority and practice of Jewish law.

Why should these be listed as the four most significant principles of the movement? I've asked for citations to show why these are the key principles that should be listed at the top of the page. There are lots of other principles in Emet ve-Emunah! Rgcrgcrgc (talk) 07:07, 11 November 2010 (UTC) removed my request for citations. I'd appreciate references to particular page numbers in Emet ve-Emunah regarding these principles. If there's a reason why specific citations are not necessary, please share here. Thanks. Rgcrgcrgc (talk) 03:24, 22 November 2010 (UTC)
Specific citations are not needed should the references themselves be redundant. In Emet ve-Emunah there are 7 principles listed on pp 14 and 15. Here is a link to the document: Why/how they were reduced to four is beyond me, unless there is a summary in the paper (I did not read all of it). (talk) 23:06, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the reference. I read through the entire document, and didn't find four principles listed anywhere. I think that it would make sense to use these seven agreed-upon principles rather than the four currently printed. Perhaps some of the seven can be reduced to fewer bullet points, but they should all be listed here, unless someone has a reference as to why the four listed above deserve special treatment. Rgcrgcrgc (talk) 03:16, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Here is my summary of the seven principles in Emet Ve-Emunah:

1. Faith in God, while respecting diverse ideas about God
2. A commitment to the authority and practice of Jewish law
3. A commitment to pluralism and non-fundamentalist faith
4. Valuing traditional Jewish texts as "a precious resource for deepening the spiritual life of Israel and humankind"
5. The centrality of ethics
6. Valuing the land and state of Israel
7. A belief that Judaism can "help mold the world closer to the prophetic vision of the Kingdom of God"

Another editor went ahead and copied the entire relevant section from the document, which is even better. If there's a consensus that we should summarize rather than reprint, though, we might want to go back to this sort of list.Rgcrgcrgc (talk) 15:07, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

Recent unsourced edits[edit]

The recent edits [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] by IP users (who I'm assuming are all the same person, since they came in rapid succession from the Manchester area) are supported by citations to Wikia and to an essay by a 20-year-old. The second doesn't even discuss Conservative or Masorti Judaism, and in any case neither is reliable. Would an administrator please revert to this version? Lagrange613 (talk) 18:26, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

It appears that Lagrange613 is missing a valid point that has been made. In Great Britain, the Reform Movement is very similiar to the Conservative Judaism in North America. The Masorti community is much newer and whilst growing, has substantially less members and congregations. Both Reform and Masorti claim to be more close than the other to US conservatism. In reality, the former is slightly more progressive and the latter slightly more traditional. My criteria is the role of women, as that's what my MA is on. Finally, I take offence to criticism that work by 20 year old is not valid. At 18 in the UK, one becomes an adult and can vote..... — Preceding unsigned comment added by That'sSoSabrina (talkcontribs) 19:38, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
The question is not the validity of the claims but the verifiability. To be verifiable, they must be documented in a reliable source. A source can be well written and even correct without being reliable, as is the case here. Even if the essay were a reliable source, it doesn't mention Conservative or Masorti Judaism, as mentioned above. Lagrange613 (talk) 19:46, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
Given that the page was protected exactly because of an edit war on this topic, I don't think it's a good idea for me to apply this change now. I agree that the IP's edits do not appear to be cited to reliable sources, though. Ucucha 23:23, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
If not now, when? Lagrange613 (talk) 00:31, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
That'sSoSabrina, Wikipedia relies on the views of reliable secondary sources. Neither of the sources you have brought qualify as either, and the second doesn't mention Conservative or Masorti Judaism, so its use is also original research. Jayjg (talk) 23:36, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

The protection has now expired, so I've disabled the editprotected request. Ucucha (talk) 18:18, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

The Word of God?[edit]

User:WalkerThrough has been adding lines to the Bible article asserting that it is the revealed word of God (fact). The section on the Hebrew Bible stated that some Jews believe that God revealed all the commandments at Sinai, and other Jews think they were revealed during the wanderings in the desert (no sources). I find this a little off, but certain, not all Jews, not all rabbis, hold to just these two views. I think it excludes the views of many Conservative Rabbis and I added that some scholars believe that the laws were composed at later times in Jewish history. WalkerThrough deleted this as Original Research here. I restored it with a couple of citations, but now Walker Through is calling me an unbeliever and that Jesus is the truth. I hope that better informed watchers of this page might keep an eye on this as I do not wish to enter a revert war. I would also ask watchers of this page to look at the last section on the talk page, and, if you have something constructive to add, consider it. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:20, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Israeli Masorti[edit]

I am not familiar with Masorti movements outside of Israel but I do know that there is no relationship between Israeli Masorti and any form of Conservative Judaism. Israeli Masorti is not really a sect of Judaism unto itself. It defines Secular Israeli Jews who observe certain Jewish laws considered to be part of our cultural heritage as Jews as opposed to our religious heritage. These customs include saying Kidush on Friday night, lighting Chanukah candles, having a Seder on Passover, fasting on Yom Kippur, not eating pork and others. Some people observe more and some people less. The main difference between Masorti Israelis and conservative Judaism is that once the Masorti Israeli observes a certain custom/law, he observes it as would an orthodox Jew and not as anything else. For instance, a Masorti Israeli getting Bar Mitzvah'd would do so in an orthodox synogogue and not in a conservative one. As a Masorti Israeli I find it very offensive that this article compares me to a conservative Jew. I know what the right path of Judaism is but I choose not to follow it for my own personal reasons. Conservative Judaism is an attempt to create a new form of Judaism which isn't based on the written and oral bible and even negates it. However, to each their own and I respect everyone's choice to observe a religion or not in a manner of their choice. But please don't equate between my form of observance and others'. I am not orthodox but I am also not conservative. It's a huge difference and frankly it's insulting that this article generalizes thusly. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:12, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

^ Please note that the above statement is a fraud, written by a troll. It is *not* from any member of the Masorti movement in Israel. It is totally irrational, someone claiming to be a Masorti Jew who hates Masorti Judaism? Obviously an unskilled Orthodox Jewish attempt at slander :-(

What is obvious is that you do not understand Judaism in Israel as it is clear that the writer was confusing Masorti (the name of the Conservative branch in Israel) with Masorati (meaning "traditional" or "traditionalist") the way of conducting Judaism of the majority in Israel. Benjil (talk) 04:35, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Benjim that is not clear. Wikipedia has had trolls coming here for 20 years, in religious disputes, pulling stunts like this. :-( RK (talk) 22:21, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Honestly that is very clear what he is speaking about. He was just confused and it was 3 years ago. Benjil (talk) 04:55, 13 July 2015 (UTC)

Camp Ramah[edit]

The section on Camp Ramah is written in effusive terms about its effectiveness and impact... sourced solely to the National Ramah Commission. This is not appropriate, not a reliable third-party source. This page is not in my usual beat; I leave it to someone more knowledgable in the area to find appropriate sources and reword to match those sources (if Camp Ramah is actually of sufficient import to Conservative Judaism as a whole to merit a place in this article.) --Nat Gertler (talk) 15:07, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Relation to Orthodox halakhah[edit]

In response to recent tag, I removed this section:

Conservative Judaism accepts that the Orthodox approach to halakhah is generally valid. Accordingly, a Conservative Jew could usually satisfy their halakhic obligations by participation in Orthodox rituals. Occasionally, however, they may come into conflict. For instance, if two men and a woman were to eat a meal together, a Conservative Jew would believe that the presence of three adult Jews would obligate the group to say a communal form of the Grace After Meals, while an Orthodox Jew would believe that, lacking three adult Jewish males, the group would not be able to do such. Thus, though often de facto the case, Conservative Judaism's halakhic system does not inherently see Orthodox halakhic practice as acceptable and legitimate halakhic practice for a Conservative Jew.

This seems like WP:OR and it isn't backed by any source (reliable or otherwise). Generalizing about what people believe, too. Not sure this is needed in this article. Thanks. ProfGray (talk) 19:58, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

I'll add a source for this - every single Conservative Jewish rabbi I have ever met in my life. That paragraph is absolutely accurate. RK (talk) 14:25, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

Sea change[edit]

Since 2011 a rebranding reassessment has been underway in Conservative Judaism. The movement has completed a survey and has now hired a firm to help with rebranding, not simply a marketing exercise, but understanding what members needs and figuring out how to address those needs. We need to make sure this fundamental shift is covered well and not stopped by people who they they "own" the page. VanEman (talk) 16:11, 28 March 2016 (UTC)

I don't "own" the page (editors with that mentality would simply revert and not bother trimming). Including a press release-style quote is a bad idea. The shift to Reform is mentioned elsewhere, where it's more appropriate. The outreach to the intermarried is extremely controversial. The general crisis is well attested to here, as well, and I see no reason to add which marketing firm got the job. All that's trivial, and belongs perhaps at the USCJ's article. AddMore-III (talk) 17:47, 28 March 2016 (UTC)

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