March 14, 2005

by Reb Yudel
Pay no attention to the man at 3080 Broadway

AP reports on the Conservative Rabbinic Assembly confab. Though the piece leads with JTS chancellor, on the whole it appears that wisdom, once again, is coming from Boston, not Broadway:

Jonathan Sarna, an expert on American Jewish history at Brandeis University, said the Conservative branch began faltering when it decided to more rigorously define itself, narrowing its appeal. Synagogues that once felt welcome, believed they didn't fit in anymore and broke away.

Among the issues that drove some out: The movement's decisions over the last two decades to ordain women and to not ordain gays, although the role of homosexuals is once again under review by the movement's Law Committee. The Reform movement ordains gays and women, while the Orthodox do not.

"Some left because the Conservative movement wasn't liberal enough and some left because it was too liberal," said Sarna, who spoke at the assembly. "The tent has become smaller and smaller."

Sarna said the Reform and Orthodox movements have succeeded partly because they are tolerant of a spectrum of practices in a way that the Conservative branch is not.

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