Members of two Conservative synagogues in Westchester, one in Mt. Vernon and the other about six miles away in Tuckahoe, watched over the years as the Jewish community gradually drifted north to Scarsdale and their aging congregations shrunk. In 1998 the two congregations merged, sold their buildings and relocated to Scarsdale.
Today, their new congregation, Shaarei Tikvah, the Scarsdale Conservative Congregation, is not only flourishing but is in the process of building a new $7 million synagogue.
In the face of criticism that contradictory rulings on gay ordination have left the Conservative movement ideologically adrift, a new approach suggested by a young Chicago rabbi edges toward a new middle ground in an attempt to anchor the movement.
Trying to bridge the traditional view that the Torah is infallible with the liberal one that stresses critical analysis of sacred texts, Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove argues that there is sufficient common ground to meld the two positions into a theologically coherent message, one seen as crucial for the continuation of the movement.
The first group of Conservative rabbis in the New York area to provide kosher supervision for an area restaurant has been formed in Suffolk County after the eatery’s owner said the Orthodox supervision he had was so costly he couldn’t make a profit.
The conversion issue has again surfaced in Israel, reigniting bitter animosities that were shelved during failed efforts to resolve the conflict. And unlike before, the non-Orthodox are blaming the Israeli government for the crisis.
Bruce Greenfield of North Bellmore, L.I., is celebrating his 25th year with the New York Metropolitan Region of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which covers the five boroughs of New York, Long Island and Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess and Putnam counties.
The struggle for Reform and Conservative legitimacy in Israel remained clouded this week as the chief rabbinate studied the recommendation of a government committee to effectively recognize them yet preserve Orthodox hegemony over conversions in Israel.
Chief Rabbis Yisrael Lau and Eliahu Bakshi-Doron were to meet this week with members of the Knesset Absorption Committee, who favor the Neeman Committee’s proposals, and with the chairman of the government committee, Finance Minister Yaakov Neeman.
Rather than risk further violence from ultra-Orthodox Jews at the Western Wall, the Conservative movement is on the verge of agreeing to an Israeli government proposal to move its egalitarian prayer services to the southern end of the wall known as Robinson’s Arch.
“It’s the same wall, the same stones, the same holiness,” said Rabbi Ehud Bandel, president of Masorti, the Conservative movement’s arm in Israel.
Philadelphia — The government of Israel is on the verge of recognizing “the legitimate rights of Conservative Jews,” the movement’s president in Israel, Rabbi Ehud Bandel, revealed here this week.
The breakthrough would come over the right of Conservative Jews to hold religious services with mixed seating at the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s most sacred sites.
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.