Philadelphia — A project hailed as the “most exciting Jewish educational idea in a generation,” one that would mark a radical departure from the way young children are taught, was unveiled here this week by the chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
“If it works, it would effect a systemic change in the entire educational system,” said Rabbi Ismar Schorsch at the annual convention of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly.
While an emerging grassroots network of Conservative Jews met in Manhattan on Sunday to reinvigorate their movement with new leadership, a senior Conservative legal scholar warned that ordaining gay rabbis could lead to an onslaught of other potentially schismatic issues being brought to the law committee.
Concluding her impassioned remarks at a panel Sunday on the future of the Conservative movement, Judith Hauptman, a rabbi and professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary, issued “an open call to the next chancellor” — an issue of great interest since the announcement that Ismar Schorsch was stepping down from the post after two decades this June and with no successor chosen yet.
Bloggers are having a field day with a survey e-mailed last week to rabbis, cantors, educators and lay leaders of the Conservative movement to learn their views on same-sex marriage and whether active gays should be ordained as clergy.
Saying that children of non-Jewish mothers would benefit from a Jewish day school education, a Conservative leader has proposed that such children be admitted to the movement’s Solomon Schechter Day Schools with the understanding that they are expected to eventually convert to Judaism.
As the Conservative movement began grappling this week with the implications of the landmark Law Committee ruling paving the way for gay ordination, thousands of Conservative Jewish leaders are to shortly be polled for their opinion on the issue.
Homosexual Jews may now be ordained as Conservative rabbis and rabbis now may perform same-sex unions, according to a landmark ruling Wednesday by the movement’s rabbinical committee that interprets Jewish law.
At the same time, the committee also upheld the current ban on gay rabbis or teachers, or other leadership positions.
The split decision, rendered after two days of deliberations here by the 25-member Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, was made possible because five position papers were considered and each needed only six votes to be considered valid.
The leadership of Adath Israel Congregation in Toronto has voted to leave the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism immediately because it no longer represents their more conservative views, according to the Canadian Jewish News.
“We find the chasm between Conservative Judaism in the United States and Conservative Judaism here to be growing larger and wider,” Rabbi Steven Saltzman, the congregation’s spiritual leader, was quoted as saying.
Torahs from the Suffolk Jewish Center in Deer Park were marched and driven five miles to the Dix Hills Jewish Center under bright sunny skies Sunday as the two Long Island congregations celebrated their merger with singing, dancing and food.
As police and fire trucks led the way and a klezmer band played, Dr. Martin Feller, a founder of the Dix Hills Jewish Center, recalled a similar march 30 years ago when he and fellow congregants carried Torahs from their rented house to their then-new home at Vanderbilt Parkway and DeForest Road.
A survey of Conservative clergy released last week found that more than 80 percent eat warmed fish in non-kosher restaurants, prompting the chairman of the movement’s rabbinic kosher subcommittee to begin writing a legal opinion that will likely restrict what Conservative Jews may or may not eat in non-kosher restaurants.