Aug 27, 2007

A Reflection on the Conservative Movement

© 2007 Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The deepest teacher to call the Conservative Movement home was Abraham Joshua Heschel, who prescribed the medicine required for rediscovering a dynamic Conservative Movement. He wrote: "To understand the meaning of the problem and to appreciate its urgency, we must keep alive in our reflection the situation of stress and strain in which it came to pass… and the necessity of confronting and being preoccupied with it." We, the inheritors of a Conservative Movement which has allowed itself to become more institutionally conservative than personally moving in recent decades, have spent enough time complaining about what is. It is time to confront where we are, armed with a surging hope for what can be.

We must see the birth of healthy movemental communication. The websites and publications of our core institutions represent fragmented visions of the whole at best. Where are the Conservative Jewish ArtScrolls and Aish.coms we so desperately need? Our institutions have begun the process of sharing the conversation, but that simply isn't enough. There needs to be a groundswell of organizing around the core ideas of Conservative Judaism, in a conversation of parity including clergy and lay leaders.

Our progressive/halachic blend can be both seductive and compelling, and our decisions should be celebrated as steps forward. Egalitarianism and Gay Inclusion must be markers for pride, fulfilling the traditional dream of traditional Judaism to stretch and include. If we believe in Conservative Judaism we must sing about it from rooftops, advertising our particular brand of faith as a powerful experience.

The “middle road” can also lead to God. We just need to decide it’s our destination.

Chag Sukkot Sameach, dear friends.