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The Conservative Movement in Judaism
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Viewing the Conservative Movement at a turning point, this book analyzes the problems facing the largest religious movement in the American Jewish community and outlines a plan of action for the future. Elazar and Geffen suggest: clarifying ideology, mission, and purpose, finding the right balance between traditionalists and advocates of change, unifying movement institutions in a cooperative effort, staunching the decline of membership to the left, recapturing the loyalty of lapsed adherents, closing the gap in observance between the laity and the standard bearers of the movement, developing the Movement in Israel and world-wide, and strengthening ties with Jewish federations and other Jewish communal bodies. The authors propose that the Conservative Movement's remedying of these problems will benefit not just American, but all world Jewry.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction: Conservative Judaism: Past and Future The Conservative Achievement Confronting Difficult Issues Methodology of This Study Looking Toward the Future Part I: The State of the Movement 1. A History of Ambivalence A Reluctant Separation The Movement As a Party From Party to Camp? 2. Institutions The Changing Position of the Seminary The Congregational Heart of the Movement The Variety of Congregational Models A Note on Youth Movements New Institutions Emerge The Ramah Camps The Havurot The Solomon Schechter Schools 3. Ideology and Theology God, Torah, and Israel Shifts and Stages Benchmarks and Boundaries 4. Style Sephardim and Litvaks Elite and Mass Rabbinical Preeminence Synagogism Religious Observance 5. Demographics Concentric Circles of Jewishness Decline in the Fourth Generation Orthodoxy Resurgent The Changing Family A Note on Regionalism in the Conservative Movement 6. Leadership In the Movement In the Congregations In the Jewish World Voluntary Leadership in the Existing Institutional Framework 7. The World Movement The New Context of World Jewry The Scope of the World Conservative/Masorti Movement The Movement in Israel A Missed Direction A New Partnership 8. What the Movement's Leadership Seeks Raising the Halakhic Profile Enhancing Conservative Intellectual Life Addressing the Spiritual Needs of Conservative Jews The Communal Approach The Zionist Approach Part II: Next Steps 9. Ideology, Halakhah, and a Broadened Base The Need for Ideological Clarification Fostering a More Serious Halakhic Movement Broadening the Base Confronting the Demographic Challenge Building a Real World Movement Building a Masorti Movement in Israel Is Conservative Judaism Best Served through a Single Movement or a Multi-Movement Community? Links to the Jewish People 10. Internal Unity From Congregationalism to Community Reducing the Gap between the Circles Integrating the Movement's Parts into a Whole Broadening the Leadership The Role of the Jewish Theological Seminary Strengthening Rabbinic Leadership Learning from History: A Summary and Final Word Glossary Notes Index

About the Author

Daniel J. Elazar was the President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Professor Emeritus of Intergovernmental Relations at Bar-Ilan University. He was the author and editor of more than seventy books, including, with coauthor Harold M. Waller, the National Jewish Book Award Winner Maintaining Consensus: The Canadian Jewish Polity in the Postwar World. Rela Mintz Geffen is Professor of Sociology at Gratz College. She is the editor of several books including Celebration and Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism, and with Marsha Bryan Edelman, Freedom and Responsibility: Exploring the Dilemmas of Jewish Continuity.

Reviews

"This account of the present and prospects on Conservative Judaism realizes the promise of the social study of a religion. It is informed, critical, enlightening, factual and well-grounded, and it goes right to the heart of matters. I cannot imagine a better study of the politics and sociology of a contemporary religious movement." - Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies "...thoughtful criticisms and proposals for change ..." - South Florida Jewish Journal "It is informed, critical, enlightening, factual and well-grounded, and it goes right to the heart of matters. I cannot imagine a better study of the politics and sociology of a contemporary religious movement. An implicit philosophy of the social order permeates the book. Conservative Judaism emerges in the authors' presentation as a 'Movement,' by which they mean, an organization of Judaism.Elazar and Geffen have written the single best book on Conservative Judaism since Marshall Sklare's Conservative Judaism (1955) exposed a religious movement for what it was, a phase in the sociology of an ethnic group." - The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies "This book should be a welcome addition to every Jewish household. In addition to the detailed discussion of the Conservative Movement, the authors provide an in-depth analysis of current American Jewish identities." - Nitza Druyan, Hofstra University "Elazar and Geffen's volume is much needed in Jewish life today. Interpreting the Conservative movement through the lens of political science and sociology, the work advocates bold decisions, new institutional frameworks, and holistic strategies. It offers world Jewry competitive alternatives to Reform and Orthodox Judaism and develops strategies for those looking for tradition, and especially reaches out to the Israeli Sephardic population. The authors challenge Conservative members to reconceptualize the Movement's foundation and to entertain changing the Movement's name from Conservative to Masorti." -Henry Green, University of Miami

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