CONTROVERSY!

Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 12, 2006 / 21 Kislev, 5767

Time for traditionalist Conservative Jews to move on

By Rabbi Avi Shafran


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article


Movement's "Committee on Jewish Law and Standards" shamelessly endorsing a position permitting "commitment ceremonies" between people of the same gender and the ordination as Conservative rabbis of people living openly homosexual lives should be the last straw


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Mindful of the Talmudic teaching that after the destruction of the First Holy Temple the only semblance of prophecy resides in children and fools, and well aware of my age, I should hesitate before claiming the mantle of a seer. But a prediction I made in an article for Moment Magazine more than five years ago — and for which, at the time, I was roundly pilloried — has now been confirmed.


I entitled the piece "Time to Come Home," and it was addressed to Jews who belonged to Conservative movement congregations. That movement's claim of fealty to Jewish religious law, or halacha, I contended, is dishonest. Through citations of fact and the words of Conservative leaders, the essay demonstrated how the process of determining Conservative "halacha" differed qualitatively and radically from the halachic process of the millennia. Halacha, I wrote, has always been decided (as it still is by Orthodoxy) through the objective examination of verses, mediated through the Talmud, with determination only to discern the Torah's intention. By contrast, the Conservative process has often involved first deciding a desired result, and then manipulating the sources to yield that outcome.


That might not disturb some Conservative Jews, to be sure, but they likely belong in the Reform movement, which allows halacha a "vote but not a veto." Those Conservative Jews, however, who truly respect the concept of halacha and had always accepted as fact that their movement was committed to the traditional halachic process, the article contended, needed to realize that such was not the case, and that their true home (hence the title) was in the Orthodox community.


Whether because of that thesis itself or Moment's renaming of the piece (against my wishes) as "The Conservative Lie," the article met with loud and angry protest. There was much positive response, too, mostly from erstwhile Conservative Jews who had left the movement for Orthodoxy and from members of Conservative synagogues who had already come to suspect that things were as I had described them. But a small army of Conservative leaders angrily blasted what one called my "nasty diatribe" and accused me of hating Conservative Jews — even though my article had dealt with a theological process, not people, and was expressly aimed at engaging other Jews' minds.


In any event, time has a way of putting things into perspective. In my Moment piece, I identified the issue of same-sex relationships as a particularly telling topic, since the larger societal milieu had essentially embraced such relationships as morally acceptable and yet thousands of years of halachic literature (not to mention explicit verses in the Torah itself, in the case of males) declares them sinful. Hence my "prophecy": The Conservative movement would come in time to "halachically" sanction what the Torah forbids in no uncertain terms. My prediction, of course, required no supernatural powers, only the natural one of observation.


Fast-forward to December 6, 2006, when the Conservative movement's "Committee on Jewish Law and Standards" shamelessly endorsed a position permitting "commitment ceremonies" between people of the same gender and the ordination as Conservative rabbis of people living openly homosexual lives. Such unions, by any objective measure, are halachically indefensible. A fig leaf of sorts was donned, in the form of contradictory "other opinions" that Conservative congregations (or, presumably, individuals) can choose to accept instead. But the abandonment of an uncontested Jewish moral verity — even as one of two or more "alternatives" — speaks piercingly for itself.


Conservative Rabbi David Lincoln, the spiritual leader of the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York, once put it well: "Jewish law is flexible in many instances, but there are certain things that are very straightforward, like this."

Donate to JWR


Truth be told, Rabbi Lincoln's lament, like my prediction, has long been clear to others, even within the Conservative world. At the 1980 convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, influential Conservative rabbi Harold Kushner asked his audience "Is the Conservative movement halachic?" and then answered, honestly: "It obviously is not."


And so, what remains, still, is the thought with which I ended my Moment article.


The courage to recognize misjudgments is a laudable and inherently Jewish trait, one the Talmud sees in the very root of the name Judah (derived from the Hebrew "li'hodot," to admit), from which the word "Jew" derives. Such self-examination is what all Jews are to engage in at this time of year. And it is, moreover, why there are so many once-Conservative Jews who have already blazed a trail of return to a halachic lifestyle. In the wake of the upcoming Conservative decision, others, I hope, will come to follow.


And what I hope no less fervently is that that my own world, the Orthodox, will demonstrate its own self-improvement and commitment — to other Jews, welcoming them warmly into our shuls and into our lives. Here, too, there is a well-blazed trail — and much cause for optimism.


Because Ahavas Yisrael, love for fellow Jews, is not only a sublime concept and an underpinning of the Jewish people, it is as compelling and immutable as any halachah.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America. Comment by clicking here.


© 2006, Am Echad Resources