Conservatives Use 100-Year Marker To Push 'Restart' Button

Pew Findings Force Leaders To 'Lift Eyes' at Decline

Rockin’ Rabbi: Steve Wernick, right, celebrates at the Conservative movement’s centennial convention.
mike diamond photography
Rockin’ Rabbi: Steve Wernick, right, celebrates at the Conservative movement’s centennial convention.

By Nathan Guttman

Published October 16, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 4)

Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg of Beth Am synagogue, in Baltimore, started a series of Saturday night concerts hosting local musicians, an event geared for the broader neighborhood community, not necessarily for Jewish members. “I’m not afraid to soften the boundaries,” he said, noting that in the concert intermission, a tour of the synagogue sanctuary is offered.

But boundaries, as Conservative activists have learned, still creep up. Albert was faced with the question of observing kosher laws in the Sabbath dinners organized by families in the community. Should the synagogue demand that all those hosting the events keep a kosher home? “I asked my rabbi, and he said, ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,’” Albert recalled, paving the way to a broader community-based participation. “I’ve been shocked by how we’ve broken down barriers,” she said.

The ideas thrown into the air during the USCJ three-day conference all amount to a broader effort to reinvent the Conservative movement and to make it more attractive. But as activists and scholars noted, the denomination could also be facing a broader problem: the shift away from centrism and toward ideologies that take a clear, binary approach on the central issue of Halacha, or Jewish religious law.

Such is the case with national politics, as well as the problem facing some mainstream Christian denominations.

“People are looking for movements that are more black and white,” Warmflash said. “We are more gray.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter, @nathanguttman


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.