“yeah, but why do you have to be orthodox?”

“We can no longer speak of Torah as embodying eternal, absolute, and monolithic truth” Neil Gillman, Conservative Judaism p. 205

“And while only Orthodox Jews consider halakhah the immutable word of God…” – Jew vs. Jew

“Sensitive leaders in Conservatism are aware of how deeply the movement is rooted in an older American middle-class culture which is currently out of favor with a significant segment of Conservative youth.” -Marshall Sklare

“In 2010, only 9% of adult members of Conservative congregations are under 40.” 2011 USCJ Strategic Planning Commission

“Orthodox educators often staff the day schools and Hebrew schools of the Conservative and Reform movements, which cannot produce enough skilled teachers of their own.” -jew vs. jew, p. 218

“Orthodoxy doesn’t have a platform; their platform is the Torah” -prof raphael

“Rabbinic Judaism did not even need to be designated as Orthodox until competing denominations began to arise in the early nineteenth century.” jew v jew 277

“For all its success, however, the crisis model left American Jewry with a deeply flawed style of community. It defined leadership less by Jewish knowledge or political skill than the biggest checkbook. ‘Wealth has replaced wisdom as a symbol of leadership,’ the journalist Gary Rosenblatt observed. ‘In the early twentieth century, men of affluence in a community lined up to see the rabbi; now rabbis line up to see the philanthropist.” -j v. j 281

The ignorance of progressive Jews impedes our efforts to work with Orthodox Jews as true partners. Progressive Jews suffer from a self-fulfilling inferiority complex that could be erased through the most fundamental of Jewish enterprises: Talmud Torah. Many progressive Jews lack the basic lexicon that would enable us to engage our Orthodox co-religionists on an equal basis. Too many progressive Jews are unfamiliar with the most basic Jewish concepts and ideas. Sadly, for most progressive Jews, the Torah, the single most important document in our religion, is as unfamiliar as the Rosetta stone…Orthodox Jews do not take us seriously as religious equals because of our ignorance. Our ignorance does not justify the animus of the Orthodox nor our second-class status. However, we must acknowledge the validity of the Orthodox claim that we are in the main illiterate jews. – Rabbi Joshua Aaronson (Reform)

The endeavor to foster Jewish observance by a ‘sales appeal’, in imitation of the marketing of cigarettes and soap (‘Five hundred congregations from coast to coast can’t be wrong!’) is merely further proof of the fact that, judging only by the official statements of Reform doctrine, there can be no halacha for reform Judaism! Where individual rabbis encourage ‘ceremonies,’ they do so either because they have Reconstructionist leanings and treasure ‘folkways,’ or because modern educational theories have opened their eyes to the necessity of audiovisual aids, or again; because they feel the need to lend a certain warmth and emotional appeal to an otherwise ‘cold’ worship service. All these reasons and motivations are good for an ad hoc ‘ritualism.’But it will be conceded that we are dealing with ‘religious pageantry’ – not with halacha. Jakob Petochowski

“Everyone knows that Orthodox Jews wear hats in the synagogue and conduct their services in Hebrew. They eay only kosher food, and will neither ride nor light fires on the Sabbath. Reform Jews, on the other hand, do not wear hats in the temple, and they conduct their services mostly in English. Few of them observe the kosher food laws, and none of them refrain from riding or lighting fires on the Sabbath. The behavior of Conservative Jews resembles that of the Orthodox while they are in the synagogue, but in daily life they act more like Reform Jews.” Emil L. Fackenheim, 1960

Is the Conservative movement halakhic? Not “Should it be halakhic?,” not “Would the world be better, would my job be easier, more gratifying if it were?” But “Is it?” And the answer is that it obviously is not. Conservative Judaism is not halakhic because Conservative Jews are not halakhic, and increasingly even Conservative rabbis are not halakhic. –Harold Kushner, 1980 RA Conference

“We see it today throughout the Conservative Movement. Jews who don’t observe Kashrut or Shabbat or those who are intermarried are treated with the same honor and respect as those who follow these norms. In too many Conservative congregations, Shabbat and Kashrut are things to be observed in the public arena, in synagogue, but not necessarily by individual Jews. In fact, despite all our educational attempts, our members continue to think that Jews who observe Shabbat and Kashrut are “Orthodox”.” – Loel Weiss

“It is not the mere revealed Bible that is the first importance to the Jew but the Bible as it repeats itself in history. In other words, as it is interpreted by tradition. Another consequence of this conception of tradition is that neither scripture nor primitive Judaism but general custom which forms the real rule of practice. Liberty was always given to the great teachers of every generation to make modifications and innovations in harmony with the spirit of existing institutions. Hence a return to Mosaism would be illegal, pernicious and indeed, impossible.” (4) -Solomon Schechter, Catholic Israel

Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles: “That the Bible is not literally true is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis.”

This work – and I suppose by extension Reconstructionist Judaism in general and maybe all non-Halakhic Judaism – seems unable to say that anything is assur, just plain forbidden. Its alternative ethos is that if good values can be attained through a given practice, if individuals or communities can make something work, then classical Jewish norms have no business stopping them. But for me, this is no prescription for Jewish integrity or keeping faith with the Torah and Sages, and risks a kind of self-indulgent narcissism…
Tattoos come in for positive evaluation in the Reconstructionist Guide, with no discussion at all of the biblical prohibition, because they can “evoke spiritual meaning or use Hebrew words that connect to the act of prayer as a form of walking meditation” [pp. 87-88]…
And very dismayingly, this work of Jewish practice cannot even bring itself to affirm monogamy and sexual fidelity within marriage, gay or straight, as absolute Jewish norms. While Jews have generally favored monogamy, Teutsch writes, “it is not obvious that monogamy is automatically a morally higher form of relationship than polygamy.” If “polyamory” – multiple romantic and sex partners – were practiced with honesty, flexibility, egalitarian rules for men and women, with trust and without jealousy, it could help couples “avoid some possible forms of exploitation” and avoids “the violation of vows and the need for secrecy” as found in most affairs. “Perhaps some people can manage it successfully and live enriched lives as a result” [pp. 217-227]. (David Teutsch’s A Guide to Jewish Practice: Volume 1 – Everyday Living)

See also:
Conservative Judaism: Neil Gillman
“The Perplexities of Conservative Judaism”: Jack Wertheimer
“Positive-Historical Judaism Exhausted”: Daniel H. Gordis
“The Future of Conservative Jewry”: Arnold Eisen (interview)
The Book and the Sword: David Weiss Halivni, p. 109-114


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s