One floated a trial balloon earlier this year: that the Conservative movement consider accepting converts, then teaching them, turning the usual chronology on its head. A second said he’d like to bring “literature, music and the visual arts,” along with worship and study, into the life of his synagogue. And a third, by the very nature of her background — Korean and Jewish — is breaking boundaries.
One of the reasons why Cantor Azi Schwartz, our cantor at Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan, is one of the foremost cantors of our day is his refusal to allow Jewish liturgy to become rote or be set in a stifling ritual straightjacket.
Last Tuesday evening there was a presidential debate and a Yankees playoff game. But more than 250 people turned out at Park Avenue Synagogue to hear, and participate in, a discussion on “The Observant Life: The Wisdom of Conservative Judaism for Contemporary Judaism,” a major work published last spring by the Rabbinical Assembly, the rabbinic arm of the movement.