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Inspiring Future Leaders: Conservative/Masorti Movement World-Wide

Rabbi Dr. Alan Silverstein AUG 21, 2019

In 2007, New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote an influential thought piece entitled “The Odyssey Years.”

Brooks observed that “there used to be four common life phases: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Now, there are at least six: childhood, adolescence, odyssey, adulthood, active retirement, and old age. Of the new ones, the … is odyssey, the decade…


Conservative Judaism – Pew Numbers Reassessed

Jewish decision-makers and funders in Israel, the USA, and around the world in part shape allocations and the dispensing of positions of influence on the basis of demographic studies. When interpretations of these studies are misapplied, too often pivotal policy mistakes are made.

Jack Wertheimer’s The New American Judaism offers a fresh assessment of the oft-cited 2013 Pew data, refreshed by hundreds of interviews with local rabbis and lay leaders….


Correcting a False Impression – Conservative/Masorti Judaism Is Global

This week, Conservative Judaism’s rabbinic association, the International Rabbinical Assembly, convenes in Montreal, Canada.

This location underscores that Conservative Judaism is incorrectly depicted as being present ONLY IN AMERICA.

While there are 1.2 million self-identified American Conservative Jews, there also are 900,000 (and growing) self-identified Masorti/Conservative Jews outside of the United States.

Recent surveys, for example, indicate between 250,000 and 300,000 Israelis identify with Masorti/Conservative Judaism.

In Argentina, Latin…


Join a Jewish Youth Group: Case Study — USY/Noam

Jewish identity during Young Adulthood is being challenged more than ever.

    • Teens report unprecedented levels of stress – e.g. self-esteem issues, coping with academic pressure, dealing with disappointments, and managing degrees of anxiety or even depression.
    • On Campus – BDS and other assaults on Jewish Peoplehood
    • Post-College – Young Adults no longer marry early, have children, settle early on career, and quickly establish roots…

Providing Rabbinic Leadership – Case Study: The Rabbinical Assembly

The pre-modern rabbi generally could be found either at an academy of learning, often as a rosh yeshivah, or as a participant in the local bet din.

As part of the effort to prove Jewry worthy of modern-day citizenship , Jews recast the rabbinate into a culturally more suitable clergy role, e.g., the spiritual leader within a specific congregation.

The synagogue rabbi became the conduit for explaining age-old Judaism into a…


Religious Pluralism Has Arrived in Israel: Case Study – The Masorti Movement

Israel was established in 1948 by Socialist Zionist leaders like Ben Gurion. They agreed to a draft exemption to accommodate 400 Haredi young men. It was assumed that Ultra-Orthodoxy would wither and fade away. The Founders handed civic religious authority to the Dati Leumi rabbinate. They predicted that Israeli society would remain divided starkly into 2 camps – the Religious Zionist camp and the Secular Camp. They…


Send Your Child to a Jewish Day School

NOTE: The following blog post is indebted to the observations of Day School advocates Dennis Prager, Rabbi David Wolpe, Professor Sam Heilman, and Day School Board Chair Rebecca Berman , and Golda Och Director of Admissions, Micah Gottlieb.

As recently as the 1960s, Day Schools were primarily limited to the children of Orthodox Jews, Israelis, or Jewish professionals (rabbis, cantors, educators) working in non-Orthodox congregations….


Send Your Child to a Jewish Summer Camp: Case Study – Camp Ramah

It’s summertime. Many parents send their children to generic camps specializing in sports, swimming, and the outdoors. This is an understandable and praiseworthy choice. Potentially much more transformative in the life of a child is a JEWISH summer camp! Jewish summer camp is not merely a worthy summertime activity, but it represents entry into a life-long journey. Jewish camping builds Jewish identity through immersion into an intensive Jewish community…


Synagogue Adult Auxiliary Organizations: Women’s League and Federation of Men’s Clubs

One innovative approach that has strengthened American and Canadian

Case Study: Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

The origin of Women’s auxiliaries within the structure of local synagogues first emerged in the late 19th century in Reform Temples. Middle and upper-middle class Jewish married women had increasing amounts of leisure time. It was culturally not…


Training the Rabbinate, Case Study: Five Conservative/Masorti Rabbinical Schools

Until modern times, rabbinic ordination was private, one-on-one. “Smicha” was bestowed by a senior rabbi upon a junior person who had achieved mastery of classic rabbinic texts. The rabbi-to-be had to complete sections of Talmud as well as practical day-to-day Jewish law. The candidate was to be tested on the section of Jewish Legal Codes known as “Yoreh Deah.”

This genre of Smicha training prepared the rabbi for teaching and/or…


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