Are the Reform and Conservative Still Jewish?

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  • #755291
    QuestionForYou
    Participant

    To Cynical:

    You’re missing the point on the Teshuva on Tzitzis knots. It was put forward by “Rabbi” Shoshana Gelfand? A female Rabbi?

    The CJLS votes on issues which a Torah-observant Jew wouldn’t even consider as needing a vote. Example:

    Teshuva:

    “A member of the congregation, who is somewhat observant of the Shabbat and Festivals, but who is an avowed atheist, enjoys leading the congregation in prayer. May an avowed atheist serve as a Shliach Tzibur?”

    The laws of Shabbat and Festivals were given by G-d. The praying that one does is to G-d. The person is somewhat observant (what does that mean?) of the Shabbat and Festivals, and enjoys leading the congregation in prayer — but doesn’t believe in G-d’s existence, which is one of the 13 foundations of Judaism! The CJLS has to even discuss and take a vote on whether or not such a person may serve as Shliach Tzibur?!

    Teshuva:

    “Solemnizing the Marriage between a Kohen and a Divorcee.”

    The Torah forbids this. Yet, the CJLS takes a vote on this issue, and in the end, it votes that this is allowed, because one rabbi observes that “finding of a suitable mate is difficult, and we must accept the fact that an unequivocal condemnation of such a marriage and an unwillingness to officiate may present Judaism as arbitrary and indifferent to personal happiness and as placing legal formalisms above human values, with the result that such

    people would feel driven to leave the Synagogue and Jewish observances generally.”

    “The high intermarriage rate is of deep concern. In an instance when two Jews express their desire to marry one another, are we not beholden to remove barriers to their relationship? The high divorce rate is a reality.”

    “When a Grushah is prepared to marry a Jew, albeit a Kohen, is it appropriate for us, in this day and age, to refuse to solemnize the marriage?”

    “We, therefore, support the decision of two Jews to marry even when he is a Kohen and she is a Grushah, and a member of the Rabbinical Assembly may solemnize such marriage.”

    Yes, let’s take what the Torah says about forbidding this type of marriage, and vote to throw it away. But Cynical writes above: “The CJLS has never abrogated Shabbat, Kashrut, Taharat Mishpacha, or anything else (evidently, the ‘anything else’ doesn’t include forbidding a Kohen to marry a divorcee) . . . I still have very little problem saying that someone who drives only to shul is Shomer Shabbos.”

    Cynical also writes above:

    “The CJLS does not serve the function of a chief rabbi or rov that makes Psak Halacha. The CJLS debates Teshuvot written by its members on issues of Jewish law. After the discussion/debate, the Teshuva is put to a vote, and if it garners the required number of votes, it becomes an officially-recognized position of the Conservative Movement.”

    “The lay people sit on the committee because they can inform the rabbis of what the Jews in the pews are doing and how they feel. Lay input has always been important in Halakhic decision-making because rabbis are not supposed to pass Takanot or interpret Halakha in a way that will be impossible for their followers to carry out.”

    Yes, let’s make sure that the “rabbis” interpret halakhah only in a way that the lay people like the interpretation that the “rabbis” come up with — not necessarily in line with what is believed in the Torah. Otherwise, heaven forbid, the lay people may not want to carry it out! But wait – I thought Cynical just wrote that the CJLS does not pasken halakhah!

    From one of the Teshuvos pages:

    “The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) of the Rabbinical Assembly provides guidance in matters of halakhah for the Conservative movement. The individual rabbi, however, is the authority for the interpretation and application for all matters of halakhah.”

    Cynical writes:

    “These positions are not forced on anyone and simply exist to provide Conservative rabbis with multiple ways to look at issues that are likely to arise. Rabbis who step outside the bounds of what the CJLS has deemed appropriate are disciplined and risk losing their membership in the Rabbinical Assembly.”

    But if “the individual rabbi, however, is the authority for the interpretation and application for all matters of halakhah,” then how does the CJLS decide how a rabbi steps outside the bounds of what the CJLS has deemed appropriate, if the CJLS does not pasken halakhah and merely provides “guidance” ?

    Cynical wrote: “I maintained a civil discourse while many of you foamed at the mouth at the mere thought of a Conservative rabbi.”

    Whatever you wrote was “civil,” but whoever wrote objections to this non-Judaism was “foaming at the mouth.”

    #755292
    minyan gal
    Member

    I believe that the question of the OP was are Conservative and Reform Jews considered Jewish. Somehow the response to the question has mainly been overlooked in this somewhat, heated discussion. Perhaps we can get back to the original question. Isn’t it true that a person born of a Jewish mother is Jewish regardless of their religious practice – or lack of?

    #755293
    Helpful
    Member

    The OP specifically said that. The question is, considering all the intermarriage and invalid conversions in the Reform and Conservative movements, what percent of their membership are halachicly gentiles.

    #755294
    so right
    Member

    Both the Reform and Conservative’s have been losing members for the last 20+ years, as a result of inter-marrieds (who are 50+% of Jews and much higher within these movements) who no longer consider themselves Jewish or at least participate in Jewish life. And even of what’s left, only a small minority of Conservative Jews are even “religious” by the little remaining definition of what constitutes being religious by their own standards.

    This is from Daniel J. Elazar of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs writing in 1991 already:

    Take the Conservative movement, until recently recognized as the largest of the non-Orthodox movements in the United States, and, as a result, probably in the world. Charles Liebman and I have calculated that there are no more than forty to fifty thousand Conservative Jews in the world who live up to the standards of observance set by the Conservative movement. This means that when the Conservative mass is left out, the movement is only the equivalent of a fair sized Hassidic sect. It may be hard to believe, but it is important to note that at the late 1984 wedding of two scions of the Satmar dynasty, the number of Jews packed into a single Long Island stadium for the nuptials equalled the whole body of authentic Conservative Jews. There are seriously committed Conservative Jews who do no live up to those standards, but who are seriously religious in some way. It is hard to estimate how many, but a generous figure would be 36 percent of the movement’s membership. Thus, at most there are 400,000 Conservative Jews in the world…

    Moreover, demographics are working for the Orthodox, since their birthrate is almost uniformly high. It has been estimated that in Israel ultra-Orthodox families are producing 5 to 10 children each, while modern Orthodox families are producing 3 to 5 each. It is likely that the same situation prevails in the Diaspora – at a time when non-Orthodox families are producing children at less than replacement level. It is said that the order of the day among ultra-Orthodox is to gain control of the Jewish community through reproduction, which is given added force by the extent of assimilation among the non-Orthodox.

    Worldwide, one finds approximately 2.5 million affiliated Conservative and Reform Jews; another 1.5 million who identify with non-Orthodox Judaism but do little or nothing in an active way to express that identity; another million-plus traditional Jews who are actively connected with Orthodox congregations but not with any movement; plus two million or more who are consciously affiliated with Orthodox institutions. Thus, there are as many affiliated Orthodox as there are movement affiliated non-Orthodox, while at least half of the group in between have not really broken with Orthodoxy, but simply do not particularly identify with it as a movement…

    Even in the United States there has been a radical shift in the situation. In raw demographics, the Orthodox may represent a mere 10 percent, more or less, of the American Jewish community. The fact remains, however, that no more than 50 percent of American Jews are affiliated at any given time with any of the institutions of Jewish life, while the Orthodox are affiliated all the time. Therefore, at the very least they represent 20 percent of the affiliated. If one goes beyond affiliation to activism, it becomes clear that Orthodox Jews represent about a third of the total of Jewish activists within the American Jewish community, a community in which they are demographically the weakest.

    These figures suggest that, as opposed to the popular image of a tiny embattled minority seeking to impose its will on the vast majority of world Jewry (the usual figures given are 15 percent versus 85 percent), Orthodox Judaism commands the allegiance of between 33 to 45 percent of all the Jews in the world and 50 to 70 percent of those who identify as religious in some way. Conversely, the non-Orthodox religious movements account for no more than one third of world Jewry and possibly as little as 25 percent. Hence, if Orthodox claims are strong, it is not only because they control all of the religious establishment outside of the United States by law or weight of tradition, but because they have the numerical strength to retain that control. It is no wonder, then, that Orthodoxy remains the dominant voice on the “Who is a Jew?” and other such issues and claims the lion’s share of Jewish public money devoted to religious purposes.

    And from another study he wrote (also in 1991):

    590,000 Ex-Jews

    Now the bad news: The survey also found that there were 590,000 people who were born or raised as Jews who now are either nothing or have another religion. About 210,000 of these told the interviewers that they had converted to another religion. This is a shocking statistic for American Jewry and for world Jewry as well. We had assumed some Jews were assimilating but not that people would say that literally they do not see themselves as Jews or that they see themselves as something else religiously.

    One possibility is that many of these people are women who have intermarried. The survey confirmed what we know from other studies, that in intermarriages Jewish women are more likely to convert to another religion than Jewish men. Apparently in many cases, the husband still sets the religious pattern for the family. If the husband is not Jewish and wants one religion in the family, then he gets his wife to convert.

    The other 380,000 of Jewish parentage or background with another religion may be examples of Milton Himmelfarb’s famous dictum which he posed as a question: “What do you call the grandchildren of intermarried Jews?” His answer: “Christians.” In American society, as a matter of course, if children are born into an intermarried family in which there is no conversion, and who are raised in neither religion, then in all likelihood they are going to marry somebody of the majority population. That person is probably going to be a member of some church and the grandchild of the Jewish partner will probably join that church. That is what happens when there is a small minority living among a large majority. It is not a deliberate act of abjuring Judaism.

    Adding the 590,000 to the 5.5 million self-defined Jews brings a total of 6.1 million Jews and ex-Jews. The parallel figure for 1970 was 5.4 million, including 200,000 ex-Jews. The number of ex-Jews has just about tripled in the last 20 years from 200,000 to 590,000, the result of the second and third generations of intermarriage.

    In addition, the survey found 2.1 million non-Jews living in households with Jews. We have already encountered this phenomenon in local community surveys. In Kansas City, for example, a survey done in the early 1980s showed that more than 1 out of 5 Jewish households included non-Jews. These may have been intermarried households in which there was no conversion. Some may have been households in which there had been an intermarriage with conversion but where the originally non-Jewish spouse brought in parents to live, or had non-Jewish children from a previous marriage.

    Some more bad news; one-third of that 2.1 million, or 700,000, are children under 18 of Jewish descent being raised in another religion.

    The Disappearance of the Traditional Jewish Family

    In looking at the present state of the American Jewish family, we see the almost total disappearance of the so-called traditional family — a married couple, both first marriages, with children — the basis upon which most Jewish institutions, especially congregations, were built. Only 14 percent of American Jews fit into that model today. There are another 15 percent who do not have children at home. Some of those are probably empty nests where the children have grown and left, and some are couples who do not yet have or are not having children. Even if we put those two figures together, less than a third of the Jewish families in the United States fit the traditional model.

    This has tremendous implications. In a Jerusalem Center study done a few years ago for the Conservative movement on the occasion of their centennial, one of the first things that we pointed out was that the Conservative movement was built on the premise of the nuclear Jewish family. Yet there were probably only two generations in the whole history of the Jewish people (or of the world, for that matter) where a nuclear family of that kind was the norm. Those happened to be the generations when the American non-Orthodox religious movements took form and built themselves around that reality. That base does not exist any more, as these figures show. The Reform movement has adjusted to it because it does not mind accepting all kinds of different family configurations, including mixed marriages or even homosexuals and lesbians. The Reform movement has been able to accommodate them within their ideological and structural framework. The Conservative movement is having a harder time, which is why the Reform movement now claims to have moved ahead of the Conservative movement in registered membership.

    That claim is not reflected in the survey. On the contrary, 41 percent of those who claim to be synagogue members indicate that they are affiliated with Conservative congregations as against 36 percent claiming Reform. It must be remembered, however, that this, too, is a subjective response, and that not all who claim to be members actually are enrolled as such.

    Intermarriage Now 50 Percent

    Over 50 percent of the Jews in the United States who have married within the last decade have intermarried. In some cases the non-Jewish partner has converted, but, as we see, in many cases they have not. Of course, since the adoption of patrilineal descent by the Reform movement there is less incentive for a non-Jewish partner in a mixed marriage to convert. Prior to that decision many would go through a Reform conversion for the sake of the Jewish side. Now many people say, why convert? They will raise their children in the Reform Temple, claim patrilineal descent, and there is no reason for conversion. Again, since males tend to determine the direction of a family’s religious affiliation, this has had a substantial impact.

    The number of Reform converts has dropped steadily since the adoption of patrilineal descent by the Reform movement. In essence, the Reform movement shot itself in the foot. This has led to some very strange situations such as the carefully worded constitution adopted by at least one Reform congregation in the Northeast which specifies that certain offices can be held by non-Jews, certain offices are reserved to Jews, and that the rabbi of the congregation must keep a register as to who is Jewish and who is not, the way the Ministry of Interior does in Israel, only using a different definition.

    #755295
    Yitzhakb
    Member

    I do not think we will need to deal with this question in the next generation? Reform Jews will be a curiosity and conservative Jews a sect.

    Look up Google:

    Will you grandchild be Jewish?

    or go to

    http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/will-your-grandchild-be-jewish-chart-graph.htm

    #755296
    charliehall
    Participant

    so right,

    While the Conservative movement has been hemorraging members, the Reform movement has grown in the US over the past generation. When I used to attend a Reform synagogue, a lot of the people who showed up every Friday night were people who had grown up Orthodox; very few were non-halachic converts. The Reform movement now has hundreds more synagogues today than it did 30 years ago and many hundreds of thousands more dues paying members than do all Orthodox shuls combined. (And dues for Reform synagogues are substantially higher than for Orthodox synagogues.) Those of us in the New York area don’t see this, but in most counties in the US, if there is one synagogue, it is a Reform synagogue.

    Our triumphalism is premature.

    #755297
    cherrybim
    Participant
    #755298
    QuestionForYou
    Participant

    There is the definition of a Jew,

    and there is the definition of Judaism.

    Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist “Judaism” are not Judaism. They violate the Torah. They are different religions.

    Therefore, their “rabbis” are not Rabbis. Their “conversions” are not conversions and are invalid.

    Please see:

    http://truejews.org/Igud_Historic_Declaration.htm

    A Jew is defined only by one of the following:

    1) Someone descended matrilineally from our forefather Yaakov.

    2) Someone descended matrilineally from a female who has undergone a Kosher conversion to Judaism.

    3) Someone who has undergone a Kosher conversion to Judaism, which includes belief in G-d, belief in the divine origin of the Torah and in its Mesora down the generations, belief in the 13 fundamental principles of Judaism, belief in ALL of the Torah – both the Written and the Oral, and the belief in every single one of the 613 Mitzvos and their performance.

    If a Jew C”V performs a sin, he is a Jew who has given in to his Yetzer Hara and performed a sin. His status is that he is still a Jew. However, the performance of certain sins (which the Jew continues doing and which he does not repent of) may cause him to lose the privileges of a Jew (e.g. being counted in a Minyan), while he still retains the responsibilities of a Jew.

    Judaism is defined as following the beliefs and rules of the Torah and performing the Mitzvos.

    Telling a Jew that he or she can eat Trayf, violate Shabbos, practice homosexuality, marry someone non-Jewish, not practice the Family Purity laws, and act and dress immodestly is not practicing Judaism.

    #755299
    Helpful
    Member

    cherrybim: Can you clarify that? I thought Lieberman was the head of the Conservative JTS.

    #755300
    tzippi
    Member

    charliehall, how many of those filling the seats are halachic Jews? I don’t discount the well intent of many people there but the numbers don’t necessarily mean much.

    #755302
    cherrybim
    Participant

    From Wikipedia on Saul Lieberman:

    Personal Paradox – Although deeply involved in the Seminary, Lieberman often seemed to be on the very right wing of Conservative Judaism. Personally fully observant of Halacha, he would not pray in a synagogue which did not have separate seating for men and women. Lieberman insisted that all services at the Seminary have a mechitzah even though the great majority of Conservative synagogues did not. He also frowned upon egalitarian participation by women in the Seminary synagogue services even though the Conservative movement at large was moving towards that goal.

    Biography – Born in Motal, near Pinsk, Belarus (then Russian empire), he studied at the Orthodox Yeshivot of Malch and Slobodka. While studying at the Slobodka Yeshiva, he befriended Rabbi Yitzchak Ruderman and Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner, both of whom would become leaders of great Rabbinical seminaries in America. In the 1920s he attended the University of Kiev, and, following a short stay in Palestine, continued his studies in France. In 1928 he settled in Jerusalem. He studied talmudic philology and Greek language and literature at the Hebrew University, where he was appointed lecturer in Talmud in 1931. He also taught at the Mizrachi Teachers Seminary and from 1935 was dean of the Harry Fischel Institute for Talmudic Research in Jerusalem.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Lieberman for the rest of an interesting bio on Saul Lieberman.

    #755303
    hudi
    Participant

    “For those of you who felt the need to knock the CJLS teshuvot, I would suggest you actually read them. Out of curiosity, why exactly would you say a woman can’t tie tzitzit knots?”

    Read them?! The suggestion!

    Women can’t tie tzizis knots because women are not supposed to participate is preparation for a mitzvos that they are not obligated in. Similarly, women cannot tie the knots for a lulav.

    Now the question is why all this supposed “discrimination” against women that they aren’t obligated to fulfill the mitzvos of tzitzis, tefillin, torah learning etc.

    The answer is simply that women have different roles than men, and require different mitzvos in order to come close to G-d. Women have the laws of ritual purity, and the mitzvah of challah, and the mitzvah of lighting candles for shabbos and festivals. Men have their mitzvos. Each mitzvah has a different affect on a person’s soul that changes the person, eventually transforming a person to greatness. Men and women are different creations, so they need different mitzvos to achieve greatness. Another answer is that the mitzvos of tefillin and tzitzis remind a person of G-d’s greatness, oneness, and rulership of the world. Women are naturally more spiritual and closer to G-d, so they don’t need these mitzvos. This is shown by the fact that adam was created from dust – a very physical thing, and given a breath of G-d in order to come alive. But Chava (eve) she was created from the side of Adam – a thing G-d made of dust that was elevated because it had the breath of G-d making it alive. Then Chava was given her own soul. Chava was created from 2 spiritual things, but Adam was only created from one.

    #755304
    AinOhdMilvado
    Participant

    IT’S ENOUGH ALREADY with this thread!!!

    WE have Torah min HASHAMAYIM.

    They have “Torah” from a committee.

    There’s really nothing to discuss, – except how we MIGHT best possibly do kiruv for the children raised in this warped americanized “movement”.

    #755305
    oomis
    Participant

    “Women can’t tie tzizis knots because women are not supposed to participate is preparation for a mitzvos that they are not obligated in. Similarly, women cannot tie the knots for a lulav.”

    we are not obligated in Succah, either, so why am I getting stuck with the decorating every year????????? 🙂

    #755306
    rebdoniel
    Member

    My belief is that he Reform are growing leaps and bounds in America, as charliehall says, due to their acceptance of someone with a Jewish father and shiksa mother as a Yid. What Orthodoxy needs to do to help ameliorate this trend is to adapt the kiruv/geirus approach seen in different organizations, such as EJF, which follows the shita of R’ Benzion Uziel and R’ Azriel Hildesheimer, the Melamed Le Hoil, who both encourage a streamlined approach in geirus for patrilineals. These rabbonim, along with R’ Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer, argue that patrilineals fall under the category of Zera Yisroel, the seed of Israel, and should actually be encouraged to convert. Indeed, R’ Chaim Amsallem has come out with a sefer documenting the relevant mekoros, which I mentioned here in part, on the inyan of zera yisroel. If we adapted the positions of R’ Uziel and R’ Hildesheimer on Zera Yisroel, than the crisis of patrilineals can be averted ansd these individuals can be more easily welcomed into klal yisroel. Note, however, that I am not advocating geirus without malchus ol shem shamayim; this would mean that a patrilineal who observes mitzvos, etc., in the Reform movement or who has come through kiruv, etc., but who wants to become a full-fledged member of klal yisroel, would be converted in a more streamlined manner than others. I am not advocating wholesale geirus l’kula, and bringing frei individuals into klal yisroel, which would only give us non-observant Jews with mevatel conversions. This proposal of mine only applies to shomrei mitzvos who are zera yisroel and who want to become full members of the mishpacha.

    #755308
    minyan gal
    Member

    The discussion about women tying the knots on tzitzit reminded me that I wanted to post an excerpt of an article that is on the website, Chabad.org. It concerns women wearing tallesim and I found it by accident recently. While there are many article on line about this topic, the fact that this one is from Chabad surprised me.

    “So what is a woman who wishes to wear a tallit to do?

    Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, eminent 20th century halachic authority, writes1 that a woman who desires to wear a tallit may do so, provided that she wears a distinctively feminine tallit, to avoid the problem mentioned above. He cautions, however, that this applies only to women whose desire to wear a tallit stems from a yearning to fulfill this mitzvah, though recognizing that they are not required to do so, and not to individuals who don a tallit as a “protest,” a means of challenging what they perceive to be a gender bias in Jewish law. Such an individual is not fulfilling a mitzvah, and to the contrary.”

    I also wish to mention that as a Conservative woman who attends an egalitarian shul (BTW not all Conservative shuls are egalitarian – each board decides for itself) I have taken on the mitzvah of wearing a tallit. I don’t know what it is, but when I put on my tallit, I find that I am far more focused on the service and on my prayers. I don’t know if I feel more spiritual -I cannot describe the feeling, but I know that I daven with more kavenah. There is something about being wrapped in the tallit that brings a feeling of being closer to Hashem.

    #755309
    myfriend
    Member

    Is it a distinctively feminine tallit, per the ruling?

    #755310
    tzippi
    Member

    Minyan gal, I’m not sure if this is the same feeling, but sometimes I feel like davening in a dark, quiet room. Maybe we women sometimes need a measure of solitude.

    I know that the inner compulsion to daven with a tallis is not even on the radar for me. To me, a tallis is to be worn by someone with a commitment to daven in shul, with a minyan (yes, it’s worn by those who daven b’yechidus for whatever reason but still), and that’s not a direction I have any desire to go in.

    #755311
    Ben Torah
    Participant

    Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:49:

    “In regard to the women who participate in the battle [feminism] with other women of the world. These women who are Torah observant wish to bring this battle to the arena of Torah law and therefore some pray with Talis and Tefillin and the like. They wish that I state my opinion on the matter. However, it is obvious if her soul desires to fulfill commandments which she has not been commanded. However, since this is not the motivation, but rather due to her complaint against G-d and His Torah, this is not a Mitvza, on the contrary, it is a sin.”

    #755312
    hudi
    Participant

    rabbiofberlin – I believe that the shulchan aruch is speaking about women actually making the tzitzis – i.e. weaving the thread and material. It says that is ok

    However, the remah says that it’s preferable for women not to tie tzitzis.

    About the lulav – I must have been remembering incorrectly. women are allowed to tie the knots, but they are advised not to bind the hadassim and aravos to the lulav. This is in sync with what rabbiofberlin said about the knots not having to do anything with the mitzvah.

    #755316
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    we are not obligated in Succah, either, so why am I getting stuck with the decorating every year????????? 🙂

    You are stuck with the decorating because your husband doesn’t care if he lives in a barn.

    #755317
    Helpful
    Member

    charliehall: Considering that the reformers recruit and welcome bona fide gentiles as full fledged members, it is little wonder that their membership rolls have increased. Discount their so-called converts and children of non-Jewish mothers, and get back to us.

    #755318
    Helpful
    Member

    rob: How can you say mitzvah bo baveira should not be a concern? That’s like saying a yeshiva shouldn’t turn away a donation made with stolen money! Of course a shul should make sure someone isn’t being mechallel Shabbos to come to shul.

    #755319
    Helpful
    Member

    That should’ve read Mitzvah Haba’ah B’Aveira.

    #755320
    AinOhdMilvado
    Participant

    To “Helpful”—

    You are so RIGHT!!!

    Not only does “reform” perform bogus conversions (poof – you’re a Jew!) but even beyond that…

    Total goyim (even by “reform” standards) become “members” of “reform temples” in order to be able to make use of their facilities (i.e. gym, swimming pool, etc.)and then these goyim, as “temple” members go into the cheshbon of a “growing number of “reform Jews”!!!

    #755321
    apushatayid
    Participant

    Hashta Dasinan Lihachi.

    Moving foward. Instead of whining about what the reform movement has become, get up and help out groups like Oorah, Lev Lachim and the myriad smaller local kiruv groups who reach out to those non affiliated or non orthodox affiliated and show them and teach them about the beauty of yiddishkeit from a frum (orthodox) perspective. Telling someone they are no good is easy. Showing them how to be better is very difficult, but THAT is how you reach someone, not insulting their conversion process, halachic committees and observances. It only makes someone dig in their heels and prepare for a battle.

    #755324
    charliehall
    Participant

    Helpful,

    I am not aware of any study that applies our standards for defining a halachic Jew to the members of Reform congregations. Anything we say here is anecdote or speculation. I was mainly judging by the dues-paying membership and especially by the fact that the number of Reform synagogues in America has increased substantially over the past 30 years.

    The 2001 National Jewish Population survey showed a decline of 13% in the number of persons identifying as Reform Jews since a similar survey thirty years earlier, and the same 13% decline in self-identified Orthodox Jews. Conservative declined 50% during the same period. I think that much of the Orthodox decline may be explained by the total destruction of the once huge Jewish community in most of the Bronx, much of which was at least nominally Orthodox.

    #755325
    charliehall
    Participant

    AinOhdMilvado,

    Reform “conversions” are not “poof” — they typically require six months to a year of study. They absolutely do not require acceptance of the mitzvot, though, and may not even require immersion in a mikveh (although that is commonly done whenever they can get access to a mikveh).

    I personally know of Orthodox batei dinim that convert people much faster (and I’m not talking about modern Orthodox batei dinim associated with the IDF, the RCA, or the IRF).

    #755326
    oomis
    Participant

    “You are stuck with the decorating because your husband doesn’t care if he lives in a barn. “

    OY VEY – you SO do not know my husband! Between the two of us, HE is the one who enjoys shopping, window shopping, looking at different types of window treatments, etc. If he lived in a barn, it would be done in Country French. (I wouldn’t trade him for anyone!)

    #755329
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    you SO do not know my husband!

    I do. I’m his chavrusa. He said he only pretends to like it to make you happy.

    #755330
    AinOhdMilvado
    Participant

    To: CharlieHall—

    The time involved may not be “poof’, but the content and the value of this “study” is less than “poof”.

    As they say… “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” or in this case, “the proof of the value of the study is in the (lack of) Torah observance.

    #755331
    oomis
    Participant

    I do. I’m his chavrusa. He said he only pretends to like it to make you happy.”

    Pops, if he wanted to make me HAPPIER, he would forget about decorating – it’s like toiten bahnkes! LOL

    #755332
    philosopher
    Participant

    Are the Reform and Conservative still Jewish? This needs to be assesed individually, if an individual belonging to this group wants to become a BT.

    Not just Reform and Conservative need to be assesed on a case to case basis, but every person who is not frum and thinks of himself as a Jew, needs to know if they are halachically Jewish or not.

    #755333
    bombmaniac
    Participant

    by the way just so were clear teh rav i asked about conservative conversions was rabbi moshe snow SHLIT”A who was a talkid muvhak of Rav Moshe Feinstien ZT”L. He said that they are invalid.

    #755334
    howard
    Member

    sorry guys i didn’t read the blogs (just thought that if their on the internet there not worth wasting my time on). however g-d says as follows; Conservative and gayrus are an inherent oxymoron. you can’t BECOME a Jew without becoming Jewish. becoming Conservative is not becoming Jewish, as Judaism is singularly the complete submission to the endeavor of fulfilling the Toruh. nothing more nothing less. it should also be unequivocally stated that this actually applies to any Shabbos desecrator, namely that they are not Jews (except with regards to a few certain laws)this see tshovos chacham tzvi #38 and collected writings of Rabbi Hirsh vol. 8 last article.

    #755336
    Darchei Noam
    Member

    That’s fine, rob, except for the fact that these Conservative (and Reform and many Zionist) converts never accept the ol mitzvos, they never intend to keep even one Shabbos k’halacha.

    #755337
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    and many Zionist

    Are you saying that otherwise Orthodox converts who are Zionist are not mekabel ol mitzvos?

    If not, please explain.

    Or am I misunderstanding you?

    The Wolf

    #755338
    howard
    Member

    Hey Berliner Rabbiner; as you can’t understand it the nice way let me put it this way; if BECOMING conservative is becoming Jewish since the conservatives tout and title their religion under the religion of the Jews, if so then someone who converts to Jews for jay is Jewish too, for whats the difference if you add or you subtract. Please confirm.

    #755339
    Darchei Noam
    Member

    No, I qualified it with many (as opposed to all.) There is no legal significance to the term Orthodox. The IDF converts, many – perhaps most – who do not accept ol mitzvos and have no intention of keeping even one Shabbos k’halacha, are invalid. Just because the guy who did the voodoo, eh conversion, is or calls himself an Orthodox rabbi does not automatically lend authority to his witchcraft, eh conversion ceremony.

    #755340
    bombmaniac
    Participant

    there is a difference between accepting the responsibility ro keep all mitzvos to the best of your knowledge, and accepting the responsibility to keep the mitzvos to the best of your convenience

    #755343
    minyan gal
    Member

    ROB: As a Conservative Jew I want to thank you for your above comments. You always provide a logical, well thought out response and have stated your point far more eloquently than I could have. I was raised in a Conservative home and for me, to follow any other pathway be as foreign as taking on a different religion. In the past couple of years I have become extremely “shul” oriented – attending daily minyan and many classes (not just Conservative ones). I have enjoyed learning many aspects of Judaism that I was not at all familiar with before. I have great admiration (and it grows daily) for those that are frum but it is not my lifestyle and to me it would be a great burden – my feelings at this time. My opinion (and I am entitled to it) is that I would much rather be a religious and learning Conservative Jew than an unhappy and non-observant Orthodox one.

    To you and your family – Shabbat Shalom and Shavuah Tov.

    #755344
    so right
    Member

    “I was raised in a Conservative home and for me, to follow any other pathway be as foreign as taking on a different religion.”

    Your feelings are very accurate. It is another religion.

    #755345
    QuestionForYou
    Participant

    rabbiofberlin writes:

    Then what exactly is the point of wanting to become a Jew, if you’re not going to fulfill the Mitzvos?

    Until when are you going to leave the practice of the Mitzvos? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year? When?

    #755346
    AinOhdMilvado
    Participant

    To: Minyan gal…

    Respectfully… to say, as you did, that “I would much rather be a religious…Conservative Jew than a…non-observant Orthodox one” is to say really that “conservative Judaism” and orthodox Judaism are TWO different religions.

    Why? Because you said you are “religious”. What does “religious” mean? Yes, of course you are “entitled to” your opinions, but IF we are talking about ONE religion, i.e. Judaism, then there is only ONE barometer for what “religious” means. G-d did NOT give the Jewish Nation an Orthodox Torah, a “conservative” Torah and a “reform” Torah. He gave us only ONE Torah, ONE tradition, ONE body of law. The reform and conservative “movements” were clearly break away movements (less than 2 hundred years old) from a Jewish tradition of THOUSANDS of years that began at Mount Sinai, given by an eternal G-d for whom 2010 was as much the “present” as 1500 B.C.E. was.

    Therefore, “religious” can have ONLY ONE defintion IF we are talking about (the same religion) Judaism, and that is strict adherence to the Mitzvot HaSh-m gave us.

    Having come from the “conservative movement” myself, many, many years ago, I can understand that from your viewpoint, acceptance of the obligation of mitzva observance SEEMS like “it would be a great burden”. Be assured, that feeling is only because of a lack of understanding of what a religiously observant life is. Having “been there” myself, I am well aware of how the “conservative movement” likes to paint “orthodoxy” (-another word I dislike, because it too would seem to make it appear that there is more than one form of Judaism) – as a fanatic, restrictive, antiquated, close-minded form of Judaism. Trust me, – that is a VERY biased and VERY inaccurate spin on the joyous tradition which has sustained us for the last 3,700 years.

    I would urge you to not only immerse yourself in the Aish.com website, but to contact and speak to the wonderful people at Aish.

    May HaSh-m guide you to the joy of a true Torah life for yourself and your family.

    #755347
    tzippi
    Member

    Minyan gal, do you have a chevra of like-minded women and families? Anyone who’s grown with you similarly since you were a kid? I have to admit not personally knowing too many non O people; one family I know of, middle aged, granparents already, had traditional parents, kosher in the home, davened in a (close to nominally, but kosher) Orthodox shul, and had 10 hours a week of Talmud Torah staffed by top notch educators peddling authenticity. They themselves (the ones who didn’t stay with NCSY and become frum) only buy from kosher butchers, don’t mix meat and milk. I don’t know what they offered their kids, definitely not a full time immersion like a day school, and I include Solomon Schecthter, but I don’t think they even had options like they grew up. Their kids, now parents of their own, are nowhere near as observant, knowledgeable, or affiliated.

    In the Orthodox community, good parents know their kids won’t be clones, and will find what and who animates them, but the Judaism they practice will be fully compatible with what they grew up. This is sustainability, and I have to wonder if you see it on your end.

    OK, enough rambling. Back to Shabbos (for both of us 😉

    #755348
    QuestionForYou
    Participant

    rabbiofberlin writes:

    Kashrus? Tznius? Shabbos & Yom Tov? Bris Mila? Taharas HaMishpacha? Shmiras HaLoshon?

    #755349
    QuestionForYou
    Participant

    #755350
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    I read through the posts in this thread with interest, as I grew up Conservative and B”H am now frum. Due to my experience in both worlds, I can understand the sentiments both of the frum posters to this topic and of the Conservative posters. I have a few things I’d like to add to this discussion, if possible:

    1.) Unfortunately, Orthodox Judaism is denigrated by Conservative Jews, who view it as, G-d forbid, backwards, strict, anti-women, antiquated, whatever else you could throw at it. These misconceptions form a real barrier for those Conservatives who are yearning for a closer relationship to Hashem. I was pulled towards frum Judaism for as long as I can remember. I had frum relatives, and when I was a child, we would visit them on Pesach for the second seder at a hotel in Miami. While there, I had a strong sense that I was in the right place, and when we left, I felt a strong sense of loss. At the same time, I felt terrified of the Orthodox Jews there, that they were staring at me, that I was doing everything wrong, that they looked down on me. Now that I am one of “those” Orthodox Jews, thank G-d I can look back and realize that it wasn’t the seder participants who were making me uncomfortable as much as my own soul. We rightfully have strong feelings about the Conservative and Reform movements. Instead of advocating an elevation towards the Torah’s ideals, they tear the Torah down to their congregants’ comfort level, or reject it entirely in the case of Reform. At the same time, we must be sure to interact sensitively with our non Orthodox brethren, because they really do not understand us or what true Torah observance is all about, and if we can do even a small thing to change their misconceptions about Orthodoxy, they might come closer to Hashem.

    2.) By far the biggest stumbling block that Conservatives and Reform have towards Orthodoxy is the perceived inequality of women. A big part of the reason they have this perception is a lack of understanding of a true Torah observant lifestyle. In the Conservative movement, everything was centered on the synagogue. Coming to synagogue = good Jew, not coming to synagogue = bad Jew. Most of my friends growing up did next to nothing Jewishly at home. The kippa came off right after services, and it was off to the mall, movies, restaurant, whatever. So basically, to remove access to anything involving the synagogue to a non-Orthodox Jewish woman is equivalent to removing their Judaism, because there’s nothing going on outside of the synagogue. The best way to remove this stumbling block is to reveal the truth, that authentic Torah observance envelops every aspect of your life at all times. Getting an aliya at shul is very nice, but davening is the ikar, as well as Torah study, Shabbos, hosting guests, giving tzedaka, improving our middos, and everything else that we do as frum Jews. As a Conservative teenager, I was very interested in reading from the Torah, reading the haftarah, leading services. Since I have become frum, I have yet to do that (I am a man), but I feel no loss of connection because my everyday “routine” is so filled with the Yiddishkeit I was trying to express by reading the haftarah in the Conservative synagogue. If I do read haftarah at shul in the future, it would be like extra icing on the cake, not the essential main course.

    #755351
    tzippi
    Member

    Avram, a few years ago I heard Warren Kozak (author of The Rabbi of 84th St.) speak. He said that the frum women he met were funny, strong, and ruling the world, that the Orthodox were doing a lot to reach out and the non-Orthodox needed to do more work in positive interaction to counteract perpetuated stereotypes and misinformation.

    #755353
    mandy
    Member

    I don’t understand why you people can’t be more respectful.

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