January 23, 2006

by Reb Yudel
San Francisco rabbis analyze Conservative movement

Marc Klein hosts a roundtable at the publication formerly known as the Northern California Jewish Bulletin. The result is an intelligent discussion. Some excerpts::

Gordon Freeman: The national institutions that are supposed to be serving the movement have for a long time been weak and getting weaker. They have no understanding of what goes on in the synagogues. When I went to seminary, I went to the “Harvard/Cambridge/Oxford” of Jewish learning, which is not true anymore.

Stuart Kelman: I think we are branded with a name that is horrible and needs to be changed. Wolpe said we should rename the movement Covenantal Judaism. Other people think we should call ourselves Masorti [the name used in Israel]. I’m sure there are other kinds of names.

Gordon Freeman: If I had to state the major values of the movement, they would be community building and community sustaining.

Daniel Pressman: We have been communal to a fault. We have contributed leaders to everything in American Jewish life. Our wealthy people have given to their communities and not to the movement.

One of the secrets of Reform: They have a cadre of big donors to give to the movement. We really haven’t done that.

One of my favorite cartoons is a picture of Moses on Sinai, he’s holding the tablets looking up and he says, “But what about funding?”

What a refreshing change from the Wertheimer-Schorsch blather we hear so much hear on the East Coast.

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