Joel Wasser

Southern Hospitality

 Still basking in the warmth from my weekend in Kentucky.

The weather was perfect, with blossoms at their peak of loveliness and wildflowers everywhere. And the folks at Keneseth Israel outdid themselves with their Southern hospitality — lavishing attention upon me, putting me up in a luxurious bed and breakfast, serving a home-cooked Shabbat dinner and Kiddush lunch, taking me out on Saturday night and giving me a full tour of Louisville on Sunday. One congregant even bought me a lottery ticket (I’ll find out if I win on Wednesday)!

Conservative Judaism And Kentucky

 This weekend I am heading south to Louisville, Ky., where I will be the Dave and Reva Kahn scholar-in-residence at Keneseth Israel Congregation, a Conservative synagogue.

It’s my first “scholar-in-residence” gig, and the fact that a Conservative shul sought me out for this honor is significant. While the Reform movement has for decades promoted outreach to interfaith families, the Conservative movement long held to a traditional, anti-intermarriage stance. As recently as two years ago, the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism had a policy barring intermarried Jews and their spouses from publicly addressing its conventions.

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