Reform-Conservative merger in Miami provides glimpse of the future
of non-Orthodox Judaism.
Miami — The banner in front of the synagogue here says it all: “One Synagogue — Two Traditions, Embracing Reform and Conservative Judaism.”
It has been nearly a year since this Reform congregation of about 325 families, Temple Bet Breira, merged with a neighboring Conservative synagogue of 250 families, Congregation Samu-El Or Olom. The union is still being tweaked, and while officials at both congregations are proclaiming it a success thus far, questions linger about the long-term viability of such an arrangement.
During a recent lesson about biblical patriarchs and matriarchs, fourth-graders at Manhattan’s Central Synagogue Hebrew school watched as role-playing talk show host, “Shecky Bevakasha,” mediated a dispute between Jacob’s two wives, sisters Leah and Rachel. While some students watched the Jerry Springer-like feud play out before them, others observed equally sensational Torah stories, starring Judaism’s forefathers and mothers.
Outreach group’s thriving one-day-a-week Hebrew school splitting a L.I. community
fighting to hold onto Jews.
Rarely has a single day — one day less of Hebrew school instruction a week, to be exact — so polarized a Jewish community. But in the desperate fight for Jewish souls playing out in the Long Island town of Oceanside, Chabad of Oceanside’s one-day-a-week Hebrew school, now in its 10th year and drawing a big crowd of students, is tearing the community apart, the town’s leaders suggest.