I Am Not a Distraction to Conservative Judaism

Editor's Notebook

Nobody’s Distraction: Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, one of the Conservative movement’s top leaders, wears a prayer shawl.
Nobody’s Distraction: Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, one of the Conservative movement’s top leaders, wears a prayer shawl.

By Jane Eisner

Published November 18, 2013, issue of November 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Addressing the young men she knows who grew up Conservative and now consider themselves Orthodox, Liben wrote:

“Stop writing about how there is no longer a place for you and further widening that [gender] gap by leaving….Stop saying that you can reconcile an egalitarian upbringing with a non-egalitarian community, because some of you do not know what it means to be told that you are not a ritually equal member of a community.”

Please don’t dismiss this observation as whining from women seeking attention. There is an oozing demographic crisis for anyone who believes in a Judaism that can embrace tradition and egalitarianism simultaneously. You may have read Josh Nathan-Kazis’s excellent story citing new figures from the Pew survey showing that the Orthodox population is growing even faster than earlier reports suggested.

Even newer figures illustrate part of what’s behind that trend: not just Orthodox growth, but non-Orthodox shrinkage. Steven M. Cohen, an advisor to the Pew study, shared data with me showing that there are now 1.35 million non-Orthodox American Jews aged 40 to 57 but there are only 950,000 non-Orthodox Jews under 17 years of age, a 30% drop. Given the extremely low fertility rates among the non-Orthodox, what does this portend for the future?

It pains me to think that men raised as egalitarian Jews are discarding that value without regard to the profound effects on women and the community as a whole. Surely the fault lies in a Conservative movement that doesn’t retain enough Jews interested in meaningful, worldly Judaism. But the “movement” can only bear so much blame. Individuals are giving up on egalitarianism. Why? And at what cost?


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!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • 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.