Sociological Acceptance Of Abortion Essay

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Sociological Acceptance Of Abortion


Conservative Judaism: Inception, History and Way Of Life



"The term "Conservative" had been attached to the moderates by the Reformers because the
moderates had branded them as radicals. This name hardly describes the movement aptly.
Conservative Judaism, is the American version of the principles of positive historical
Judaism. The conservatives accept the findings of modern scholarship that Judaism is the
product of a long period of growth and evolution. However, this process did not result in
broken or inconsistent lines of development; quite the contrary, the major currents of
Judaism run consistently through the extensive literature of the Jewish people, created in
successive ages." (Rudavsky 338)


Conservative Judaism is one of the largest of the various sects of Judaism. Conservative
Jews make up about 40-45% of those Jews who affiliate. Conservative Judaism accepts the
idea that Jewish law is binding upon Jews. Conservative Jews have an obligation to obey
all the teachings and commandments of Judaism., For example, Conservative Jews emphasize
the laws of keeping the Sabbath and keeping kosher. Conservative Jews believe that Jewish
law is capable of evolution as humans learn more about interpreting the Torah. Therefore,
Conservative Jews have changed some of the earlier interpretations. Men and women worship
together in Conservative synagogues, people may ride in a car on the Sabbath to attend
services, and women can be ordained as rabbis.


"Issac Leeser is generally regarded as the principal forerunner of Conservative Judaism in
the United States. A native of Westphalia, Lesser acquired his religious and secular
education before coming to American in 1824. He settled in Richmond, Virginia, where he
was employed for several years in his uncle's business. At the same time, he assisted the
hazzan in the religious school of the local Sephardic congregation. During this period, he
gained prominence by publishing numerous articles in defense of Jews and Judaism in
American and foreign journals."(Dimont 231)


Some Jews who affiliate with the Conservative sect claim that their main reason for
belonging is the fact that they don't want to be Orthodox nor Reformed. "While some
individuals describe themselves as Conservative because of their alienation from Orthodox
practices, others define themselves from the opposite direction - they point out that they
are not reform." (Sklare 206) For the most part, Conservative Jews feel that if one were
to be reformed they would not really be Jewish. The Reformed sect, unlike the conservative
do not obey most of the Jewish laws and traditions. Conservative Jew describes Reform as
"cold," "churchlike," or "going too far," rather than as being subversive or heretical."
(Sklare 206)


Although Conservative Jews do not associate themselves with the Reform movement, they are
still influenced by some of their ideas. "Conservatism has borrowed a number of the
innovations instituted by the Reform wing. Orthodoxy, particularly in America has done
likewise, though to a lesser degree. Among these changes are the improved decorum, the use
of the vernacular and the regular sermon at services, as well as confirmation exercises in
various forms. Mixed pews, the organ, and the elimination of the benediction by the
priestly caste are among the modifications adopted by the Conservative
congregations."(Gordis 122)


Conservative Judaism says that the laws of the Torah and Talmud are of divine origin, and
mandates the following of Jewish Law. At the same time, the Conservative movement
recognizes the human element in the Torah and Talmud, and accepts modern scholarship that
shows that Jewish writings also show the influence of other cultures, and in general can
be treated as historical documents. "The founders of the Conservative movement, the
youngest group in modern Judaism, had no wish to create a new alignment in Judaism. They
sought, rather, to unite all Jews who had a positive attitude toward Jewish tradition, in
spite of variations in detail. Nonetheless, life itself led to the crystallization of
Conservative Judaism, which is dedicated to the conservatism and development of
traditional Judaism in the modern spirit."(Gordis 216)


Since the inception of Conservative Judaism in the late 19th century, it is committed to
Judaism not only as a faith but also as a system of law, and to the norms of ritual
behavior. Conservative Judaism formally involves strict Jewish religious practice of the
laws of diet and Sabbath-observance. " For many Jews in the Gilded Age of the late
nineteenth century, Reform was traveling too fast and too far to the left. The
Conservative movement long ago ruled that mixed seating was permitted in religious
services and so was driving to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Unlike Orthodox, the
Conservative allows women rabbis instead of the traditional service lead by men.


"Of the three main Jewish sects in America, Reform Judaism has thus far been the prime
force in getting things done, supplying thus far been the prime force in getting things
done, supplying most of the ideas, money and leadership. Reform has remained in the
vanguard of everything new in secular American Judaism. But it is no longer foremost
Jewish religious sect. Nor is it any longer foremost in Jewish scholarship. Here the
unaffiliated and Conservative have overtaken it."(Rudavsky 338)


In order to get a better understanding of how Conservative Jews felt about the sect that
they identify themselves with, I asked them the question: "What do you mean when you say
that you are Conservative"


My friend Josh Schwartz from Brooklyn said "Well, I obey some laws and I'm not Orthodox,
so I guess I'm somewhere in between the two My parents brought me up believing in the
Conservative way of life. I go to a Conservative Temple, so I'm Conservative. When I asked
the same question to my Jewish friend from Long Island he responded with: " My parents buy
kosher meat and we eat kosher in the house but I often eat non-kosher when I'm out with
friends. I think I'm conserving time when I go to a Conservative temple instead of those
drawn out services that are conducted in Orthodox temples." Both of the responses I
received revolved around their parents. I think for the most part, Conservative Judaism is
placed upon the person instead of deciding which sect you want to belong to on your own.


Growing up in Brooklyn I attended an Orthodox Hebrew school, a Conservative Jewish day
camp and belonged to numerous Jewish youth groups. Most of my friends when I was growing
up were Jewish. We belonged to the same temple and participated in the same traditions.
Brooklyn is made up of a wide range of Jewish sects and groups. In my neighborhood, the
most common of all are the conservative Jews.


My grandparents came to this country from Eastern Europe after the end

of World War II. They escaped only with their lives and their belief in the Jewish

Faith. They came to this country to escape the persecution of Nazi Germany. What they
found were people who were just like them seeking the teachings of the Conservative sect.
Growing up in a conservative Jewish household has had a great impact on my life.


I was Bar-Mitzvahed in a conservative temple in Brooklyn, which is also the same temple
that my parents got married. I attend religious services for the high holidays and obey
the laws of Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Hanukah. I do not keep the Sabbath and
I do not adhere to the kashert laws. Most people that I know who are of the conservative
sect obey and disobey the same laws as I.


Youth groups like United Synagogue Youth and the Binai Brith Association are major
contributors in keeping the conservative sect alive. USY is a youth group established by
the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in the hopes but with the intent to foster
further continuation in the conservative community. Binai Brith is non denominational and
is constantly shifting between reformed and conservative depending on the community in
which that chapter is located. Jewish Youth groups throughout the country has had a great
impact on the young Jews of America by teaching the religion and providing a entertaining
atmosphere at the same time.


In my opinion Orthodox means obeying every Jewish law to the fullest effect. Some of my
friends who are Orthodox are curious to what it's like to go out on Friday nights? Or,
What does "real" pizza taste like? But when it comes down to it, they have devoted their
lives to G-d and religion and would never disobey the laws. Sometimes when Im driving
around the area on a Saturday morning, I see Orthodox Jews walking to their temple which
is sometimes miles away from their house.


The reformed on the other hand are the complete opposite of the Orthodox. I've been to
Jewish Reformed services at my friend's temple where I would see a woman rabbi playing
guitar and singing along at the same time. Sometimes the congregation members aren't even
wearing yamaurlkahs.


Conservative Judaism to me for most Jews in this country is the American way of life. We
believe in G-d, belong to temples, engage in religious events and take part in the
traditions. We do not dedicate our lives to the religion nor do we say that we are perfect
Jews. What we do say is that we are Jewish and affiliate ourselves with other Jews of
various sects. Unlike the Hassidim who constantly fight within their own community,
Conservative Jews have a common understanding for the religion and one another.
Conservatism continues to be the most popular sect of Judaism and continues to be a
driving force in America.










Conservative Judaism: Inception, History and Way Of Life



"The term "Conservative" had been attached to the moderates by the Reformers because the
moderates had branded them as radicals. This name hardly describes the movement aptly.
Conservative Judaism, is the American version of the principles of positive historical
Judaism. The conservatives accept the findings of modern scholarship that Judaism is the
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