Tag Archives: Conservative Jews

American Conservative Judaism

 

Mark Beré Peterson: The Humanities focused on Ancient History, Food, Culture, Myth and Magic.

The Conservative movement is the second largest of the three main religious denominations within American Judaism, claiming 18 percent of American Jews, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center. Historically it has occupied a sort of middle ground between Reform and Orthodox, maintaining (unlike Reform) that Jewish law remains binding on modern Jews, but affording far greater leeway than Orthodoxy in adapting those laws to reflect modern realities.

• The movement tolerates a range of religious practice in its commitment to halachic pluralism — the idea that multiple (and opposing) opinions concerning the requirements of Jewish law can be considered equally legitimate.

• Most (but not all) Conservative synagogues are egalitarian on gender issues, and the movement has endorsed religious rulings both in favor of and opposed to same-sex marriage.

• While its rabbis are not permitted to officiate at interfaith weddings, the movement has in recent…

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American Judaism: Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist

 

Mark Beré Peterson: The Humanities focused on Ancient History, Food, Culture, Myth and Magic.

Whether you refer to them as denominations, streams, movements or branches the American Jewish experience is as diverse as their interpretation of traditional Jewish law or halacha. Outside North America, the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism play a less significant role, and in Israel the vast majority of synagogues and other Jewish religious institutions are Orthodox, even though most Israeli Jews do not identify as Orthodox. Evenwithin North America, the role of the movements has diminished somewhat in recent years, with growing numbers of American Jews and Jewish institutions identifying as “just Jewish.”

The largest affiliation of American Jews, some 35 percent of Jews identify asReform. The movement emphasizes the primacy of the Jewish ethical tradition over the obligations of Jewish law. The movement has traditionally sought to adapt Jewish tradition to modern sensibilities and sees itself as politically progressive and social-justice oriented while emphasizing personal choice in matters…

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Judaism and Jewishness in 2020 America

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that many Jewish Americans participate, at least occasionally, both in some traditional religious practices – like going to a synagogue or fasting on Yom Kippur – and in some Jewish cultural activities, like making potato latkes, watching Israeli movies or reading Jewish news online.  The same could perhaps be said for European Jews.

Among young Jewish adults, however, two sharply divergent expressions of Jewishness appear to be gaining ground – one involving religion deeply enmeshed in every aspect of life, and the other involving little or no religion at all.

For Europeans it might be strange that overall, about a quarter of U.S. Jewish adults (27%) do not identify with the Jewish religion. Like all over the world we can find the strong feeling of ethnicity, more than religiosity.  The 27% U.S. Jewish adults who consider themselves to be Jewish ethnically, culturally or by family background, even when they have a Jewish parent or were raised Jewish,  answer a question about their current religion by describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” rather than as Jewish. Among Jewish adults under 30, four-in-ten describe themselves this way.

The two branches of Judaism that long predominated in the U.S. have less of a hold on young Jews than on their elders.
In 2013 the Conservative movement was the second largest of the three main religious denominations within American Judaism, claiming 18 percent of American Jews. In some years in the 1950s, the movement was adding 100 new affiliate congregations annually.
In the 21st century, the movement’s long-term viability has continued to be drawn into question. The percentage of Jewish households that identified as Conservative dropped by 10 points — from 43 to 33 percent — between 1990 and 2000, according to surveys of the American Jewish population conducted in those years. By the end of the century, the movement was in serious decline, in such a way that some were fretting openly that Conservative Judaism was on the road to oblivion. About fifteen years ago Rabbi David Wolpe suggested that Conservative Judaism be rebranded as Covenantal Judaism. That name we hear also here and there in our regions, where some Jews and Jeshuaists consider themselves Covenantal Jews.
Today roughly four-in-ten Jewish adults under 30 identify with either Reform (29%) or Conservative Judaism (8%), compared with seven-in-ten Jews ages 65 and older.
Among Jews ages 18 to 29, 17% self-identify as Orthodox, compared with just 3% of Jews 65 and older. And fully one-in-ten U.S. Jewish adults under the age of 30 are Haredim (often known in English as “ultra-Orthodox.”), (11%), compared with 1% of Jews 65 and older. Approximately 1.2 million Haredim live in Israel, jealously guarding their traditions.

Strangely enough, or perhaps not, we can find several Jews who are somewhere “in-between”, themselves found to be not a believer, but who have not given up upon Jewish religious practice. some of them have even adopted more religious practices than they were ever raised with.
In the States, like in Canada and West Europe we find lots of Jews who adopted a religious Jewish lifestyle for themselves, in a similar way we have seen Christians also creating their own religious system and spiritual lifestyle.

In fora we can see that the participants who no longer believe were raised in various Orthodox communities around the world, ranging from Modern Orthodox to Yeshivish to Hassidic; and most spent their childhoods and years of their adulthoods studying in houses of Torah learning. Some were rabbis themselves, educators who dedicated years of their lives to spreading love of Torah and traditional Judaism among the Jewish people. {Why can’t I be secular?}

Remarkable is to notice that in the U.S.A. the youngest U.S. Jews count among their ranks both a relatively large share of traditionally observant, Orthodox Jews and an even larger group of people who see themselves as Jewish for cultural, ethnic or family reasons but do not identify with Judaism – as a religion – at all.  For non-Jews the difference is mostly not made, which gives a totally wrong view of Jews, them thinking all those things those civilian non-believing Jews do against Torah would be in line or acceptable to all Jews.

In the U.S., the same as in Europe, we can see that the youngsters, though not so interested to know if the food is kosher or not, still like a lot of traditional foods. As such, they like cooking traditional Jewish foods, visiting Jewish historical sites and listening to Jewish or Israeli music. Yet the survey finds that most people in the latter group (Jews of no religion) feel they have not much or nothing at all in common with the former group (Orthodox Jews). For many youngsters the Jewish traditions and lifestyle may feel outdated. Others may become unsettled because they find people in their forties searching for ways to live more in line with their ancestors, going back to the synagogue and praying again in the house. Some want to delve into the deeper meaning of Jewishness and Judaism.

It is a fact that Jews and Jeshuaists are a minority. For the U.S.A. in absolute numbers, the 2020 Jewish population estimate is approximately 7.5 million, including 5.8 million adults and 1.8 million children (rounded to the closest 100,000). The 2013 estimate was 6.7 million, including 5.3 million adults and 1.3 million children. The precision of these population estimates should not be exaggerated; they are derived from a sample of the U.S. public that is very large compared with most surveys (more than 68,000 interviews) but are still subject to sampling error and other practical difficulties that produce uncertainty. Furthermore, the size of the Jewish population greatly depends on one’s definition of who counts as Jewish.

Most U.S. Jews identify as Democrats, but most Orthodox are Republicans

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Find also to read

Judaism and Jeshuaism a religion of the future

Jewish Americans in 2020

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  7. Messianic Jews Say ‘Fake Rabbi’ Was Wrong Way to Reach the Ultra-Orthodox
  8. Reform Jews Should Recite Qorbanot in Prayer
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French rabbis of the suburbs confront anti-Semitism

Last year 50 000  Jews left France for better pastures. In Belgium we also find many who preferred to go to Israel and to face the difficulties there between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.

When rabbi Prosper Abenaim first arrived at La Courneuve’s Ahavat Chalom synagogue in 1992 there were over 4,000 Jews in the neighbourhood then and at that time it was a struggle to fit them all into the synagogue on Yom Kippur. Today, at this Paris suburb’s only Jewish facility, he serves sweet tea to his synagogue’s most frequent and reliable guests: machine gun-toting troops of the French Legion which entered the seen on January 2016 to defend Jews in this heavily Muslim and crime-stricken municipality bordering the capital. This dwindling community, which has lost thousands of congregants over the past two decades to Israel and safer areas of Paris has now on some mornings, troops outnumbering worshippers.

That wasn’t the case when Abenaim first arrived at La Courneuve’s Ahavat Chalom synagogue in 1992. There were over 4,000 Jews in the neighbourhood then and it was a struggle to fit them all into the synagogue on Yom Kippur.

“The shul overflowed onto the street,”

Abenaim recalled.

Since then, improved economic fortunes and repeated anti-Semitic attacks have driven out all but 100 Jewish families from the neighbourhood, where drug dealers operate openly on streets that residents say police are too afraid to patrol. The remaining Jews are mostly a greying bunch, stuck here for financial reasons.

“We have two big problems, extremism and criminality, and they often mix,”

said Abenaim, who lives in Paris’ affluent and heavily Jewish 17th arrondisement and has encouraged his congregants to leave for Israel.

“I understand why people don’t want to raise children here. I’m here myself only because of my duties. Otherwise, I’d be in Israel.”

Rudy Abecassis, a Marseille-born computer specialist who moved to the Paris region in 2009 to find work, had a good job at a time of rising unemployment. In 2016 his family also left behind their comfortable lives and moved to Israel, joining nearly 8,000 French Jews who Abecassis said

immigrated to Israel in 2015.

“We’re not fleeing,”

He had found a nice life in France and he loved France for it,  leaving it with sorrow. For him it being important

“to live in a Jewish country of our own, where we are not outsiders who need to be tolerated.”

Tolerance is the big word we have to look for these days. When we hear small children saying Jews are dangerous people we can wonder what they hear their Muslim parents telling about Jews.

Most Jews in France are not affiliated with any synagogue, while the majority of those who are belong to Orthodox synagogues. The third major current of Judaism in France is the Conservative or Massorti movement (with a.o. rabbi Haim Fabrizio Ciprian in Marseille). Next to them there are the Liberal and Reform Jews. The “Libérale” in French corresponds to the Reform movement in the UK and the US, though for some Americans its approach might appear to be midway between Reform and Conservative.

‘For French who do not have the American connection, if you’re Jewish, Israel is the easy place to go. Otherwise the other ambitious entrepreneurs of that age who are not Jewish and are not going to think of going to Israel tend to go to London, which is now the seventh largest ‘French’ city.”

says the American Rabbi Tom Cohen from the synagogue Kehilat Gesher in Paris’s 17th arrondissement.

In those suburbs Rabbi Michel Serfaty is not afraid to go to talk to the Muslims and to create events for Muslim kids. He also created a community or “French Jewish Muslim Friendship Association” for which he hopes to recruit several more young people to help with community outreach in the largely Muslim, immigrant communities where most people have never even met a Jewish person.

A poster for the French Jewish Muslim Friendship Association, which works in many poor, immigrant neighborhoods. – Eleanor Beardsley/NPR

 

The rabbi is convinced that Jews can live together in peace with Christians and Muslims as well with atheists. He also believes they can help and foster each other and can work together to build up France’s future.

“In these places they often have specific ideas about Jews,”

says Serfaty.

“And if they’re negative, we bring arguments and try to open people’s eyes to what are prejudices and negative stereotypes. We try to show children, mothers and teenagers that being Muslim is great, but if they don’t know any Jews, well this is how they are, and they’re also respectable citizens.”

The rabbi takes advantage of funding from a government program that helps youths without work experience find their first job. First of all Serfaty takes time for the Muslim youngster and unites them by creating opportunities to have games, like a football match together. Two days ago we could see on television how a coloured boy was proud to present his equip, which was constructed of youngsters from different origin. Serfati lets them feel how other young kids feel and have similar aspirations. He tries taking away the borders and wrong ideas their parents or some radicals imposted on them.

The rabbi offers them also tuition and for a period of three years, gives them valuable training in mediation and community relations. Serfaty’s recruits also study Judaism and Islam. And he takes them on a trip to Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp.

Though French laws on secularism forbid him from asking applicants about their religion, he tries to have also Muslim employees for his work, who harbour no anti-Semitic feelings, which is not always so easy to find.

The people helping the rabbi are aware of the task to are wake up people’s consciences. They say

“This is a job that counts and we could have a real impact if there were more of us.”

Rabbi Michel Serfaty, third from right, and employees of his French Jewish Muslim Friendship Association. He says he has only grown more determined to do his bridge-building work since the terror attacks in Paris in January. – Eleanor Beardsley/NPR

Now there is also signed a manifesto where is demanded that the fight against this democratic failure that is anti-Semitism becomes a national cause before it’s too late. By the people who put their signature under it can be found politicians from the left and right including ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and celebrities like actor Gerard Depardieu.

The signatories condemned what they called an “quiet ethnic purging” driven by rising Islamist radicalism particularly in working-class neighbourhoods. They also accused the media of remaining silent on the matter.

“In our recent history, 11 Jews have been assassinated — and some tortured — by radical Islamists because they were Jewish,”

the declaration says.

Condemning the “dreadful” killing, President Emmanuel Macron had reiterated his determination to fighting anti-Semitism.

“French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their fellow Muslim citizens,”

according to the manifesto.

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Preceding

Bringers of agony, Trained in Belgium and Syria

Dr. Miller looking at Jews in France

Apocalyptic Extremism: No Longer a Laughing Matter

Anti-Semitic pressure driving Jews out of Europe

Growing anti-Semitism possible sign of certain times

What to do in the Face of Global Anti-semitism

Jews In France Ponder Whether To Stay Or To Leave

When will it stop

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Additional reading

  1. 2015 Human rights
  2. 2016 in review Politics #1 Year of dissonance
  3. As there is a lot of division in Christendom there is too in Judaism
  4. Propaganda war and ISIS
  5. Religious Practices around the world

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Related

  1. Russian chief rabbi: France’s Jews should leave if Le Pen wins
  2. ‘Cowardly, Odious’ Attack on Jewish Family Condemned by French Government
  3. ‘Caught, Kicked, and Gagged’: Jewish Family Tells of Brutal Anti-Semitic Robbery Outside Paris
  4. Exodus: Jews Flee Paris Suburbs Over Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism
  5. Paris Taxi Driver Threatened To Kill Passenger Because He Was an Israeli Jew
  6. Jews Are Being Murdered in Paris. Again.
  7. 300 French Personalities Sign Manifesto Against ‘New Anti-Semitism
  8. 300 French Personalities Denounce ‘Islamist Radicalisation’, Sign Manifesto Against ‘New anti-Semitism’
  9. Religious Muslims in France submit twice as many job applications as Christians to get callbacks

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