I am a member of an egalitarian Conservative Jewish Congregation. Unlike the name sounds, Conservative Judaism is one of the more liberal branches of American Judaism, and is basically an American denomination, independent of sibling movements in other places, but most closely aligned with the Masorati Movement in Israel, which was started by American Conservatives who immigrated there. It is traditional for students of our two American seminaries to spend at least one year studying at the Masorati seminary in Jerusalem.
The name "Conservative" came about in the late 19th Century when some people felt that the Reform movement had strayed to far from Tradition, and so formed the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York to train Rabbis who were modern but "conserved" the traditional values.
Conservative Judaism is unique in that it is divided into three independent parts that make a whole. The Rabbinic Assembly is a "union" of our rabbis and cantors; the Seminaries (JTS in NYC and the second, newer one in California) are independent, and the United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism is the organization of the congregations. Every Congregation is independent. There is a committee on Laws which is made up of representatives from each branch (when the second seminary opened, JTS voluntarily split their seats with it to avoid having to rewrite the entire structure). They debate questions brought before them, sometimes for decades (It took them almost 20 years to decide to ordain women). If a simple majority votes for something, it is allowed but not binding, and they often make seemingly contradictory rulings to allow the independent congregations to select the option which works for them. (Some congregations still do not recognize women rabbis and cantors) When a certain percentage vote for something, it is binding on all Conservative Rabbis, and through them, on their congregations. In the over 100 years of this system, I believe they have come up with three binding decisions.
Egalitarian congregations are ones where all members are equal. Men & women, gay & straight. All participate equally and have equal leadership roles.
I like my congregation because it is highly participatory. This dates to a time when we had only a part time rabbi, and so most of the duties were performed by congregation members. I have given the "D'var Torah" - the words of Torah or "sermon" (we don't actually have sermons, but an explanation of the week's reading from the Scriptures) many times, and have also chanted from the Torah. I have served on committees, an taught adult education classes. Before someone gets confused: this participation is limited to Jews, either by birth or choice, although non-Jews are more than welcome to worship with us.
We are active in social action issues, and in programs with neighboring synagogues, as well as with other faiths. We are very involved in "The Children Of Abraham" a local organization fostering communications and peace between the large Jewish and Islamic communities here in Brooklyn. We have had some fascinating joint programs with our Islamic cousins at our synagogue, which was built as an orthodox synagogue in the 1920's and we have been slowly renovating and modernizing.
Yitzchak Yehoshuah ben Yisrael Moloch U' Baylah D'vorah l'Yisrael
(my full Hebrew name)
So why do you identify with that, why do you practice that religion?
Hi folks. I am a baptised Presbyterian although I no longer go to church. I got away from it in my early teens. Today I am a recovering alcoholic and basically have faith in a Power greater than myself. I do pray although probably not as often as I should. The prayers are mostly to say thank you to God. When I was really struggling with my alcoholism I asked God for help and through a series of events my butt ended up in a chair in AA listening to people tell me to follow these steps and I won't have to drink again. I figure that is God granting me the help I asked for so I do the steps and follow the suggestions.
With time and practice I have been granted more faith. My life today is far better than I could have imagined. I mean that in a spiritual way. I am able to accept and be grateful for all the things in my life including the challenges. Why do I believe and practice? I believe and practice because it is better than living with no faith at all.
I grew up a sort of Orthodox Jew, not really practicing, but but educated in the Traditions, and comfortable in the Hebrew services. I could never get comfortable in Reform Judasim, which until fiarly recently as almost always entirerly in English.
A number of years ago, I BEGAN going to spiritual retreats for Jews in recovery for substance abuse (recovering from alcoholism since Leap Day 1984) At my first retreat, I met a great British rabbi from my home town, Sami Barth, who now has a pulpit in Massachssets.I went to a few services at his congregation, but at the time, i was not ready for a committment to a congregation There were complicated reasons.
A few ears later, i went to another retreat. on the bus up, a friend kept telling m about the great new woman rabbi who had been hired to replace Sami, who had been part time. Since he was working on a Doctorate and taught at a seminary, he didn't have time for the full time position now open.
I agreed to spemd the next Sabbath with my friend at services.
I found a dynamic young spiritual dedicated to congregational participation and a friendly and welcoming faith community Pasover came, and I was flooded with invitiations to homes for the Seder service (which is at home) by members who didn't know me but wanted to include me in their "families".
Yhe services are promarily in Hebrew, but with enough English to make it welcoming to all, and the the English is egalitarian, dedicated to remembering that although Hebrew is a gendered language English is not.
We have even changed some fo the Hebrew service. There are places n the services where webeg the Holy One to grant mercy on us in meory of the covenant with our Ancestors. The traditinal Hebrew then list the Three Patriarachs - we list them, and the Four Matriarchs we have a member of our congregation who is an ordained rabbi, nut works as an educator and pasotoral counselor (she worked with the 9/11 families). She alwys points out that Jacob had two woves and two concubines, and had his 12 sonms with all four of theses womensm so insists we have SIX patriarchs, and when SHE takes a turn leading services, Rabbi Regina adds thair names, so we and up with SIX matriarchs.
When ever we mention Moses the Prophet in prayer, we mention Miriam, the Prophet since the Five Books of Moses calls he that over and over again, Rabbi Regina also insisists on honoring the nursemaids who refused to obey Pharoah at risk of their lives, and saved the first born of Israel lying to the king. (They are named in Exodus).
I am a male with strong "feminist" ideals, and so this appealed to me.
The fact that this congregation independentely welcomed gay and lesbian couples as full members 25 years before ANY denomination did that also impressed me.
This is the sort of community that is so warm, rabbi Sami and his wife remained members for a number of years until he got his doctorate, and accepted a pulpit from a stuggling but histric old cingrsgation, which unfortunately was devestatde by a fire which spread from a nearby house.
So if your synagogue only had your jewish religious texts to offer and nothing else.. would you remain there?
Why do you identify with the conservative side of things? Is that the one you've always grown up with?
Have you ever looked outside of Judaism? and of all the religions you've come face to face with, what makes you keep your Jewish identity?
Lets see, I am a Christian. I prefere to not label myself in a particular denomination.
What about you?
I just wanted to ask what denomination so I can have an inclination on what each of us believes.
Are you Catholic Jenny?
I am a Sabbath-keeping Christian who looks for the soon return of my Friend and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The reason I attend the church I do is because it's origins say much. Occasionally through history God has presented humanity with bursts of revelation. In Eden as sin broke upon us, at Sinai, Jesus, the Reformation, the Judgement/Sanctuary.. etc. The church I attend has come down through the ages. If you watch the progression of truths throughout history you'll see this. God has given burst of revelation to a group, which carried that truth and was given more light. So to this point God's true church should believe all the truth from our fathers...
1370 Authority of the Bible - Wycliff
1400 Obedience to God - Huss
1517 Salvation by Grace - Luther
1555 Freedom of Conscience - Calvin
1650 Baptism by Immersion - Williams
1705 Lordship of Christ - Wesley
1844 Hope of a Second Coming - Miller
Then the Final Restoration (Law, Death, Health etc.)
The reason I remain a Sabbath-keeping Christian is because when I look at the truths of Daniel and Revelation I am CONVINCED the Bible is real, Jesus is coming and there is more to life then living and dying. I do not go to church because of the people in the church, some are nice, others not so nice. It really does not matter the level of "niceness" of people in the church, because we are all on the same journey together and we are all growing, one way or another. So, no, I do not remain a christian because of the people or because of some club mentality or because of the organized institution, but because I can find no reason to let go of the beliefs and bible truth which have enriched my life and my growing relationship with God and with others.
No, I am not Catholic. I am simply a follower of Christ, a child of the King of Kings. I believe the bible is the word of God. It is what I try to live by.
By sabbath keeping, do you celebrate the sabbath on Saturday or Sunday? I am only curious.
The list you gave above, I want to ask to be sure I understand your meaning in case I am misunderstanding you. Are you saying God gave these individuals/groups a new revelation? (IF) you are saying that, and maybe you are not, but IF you are, I cant agree with that because the authority of the bible is clearly given in the word, as is obedience, salvation, baptism by water and spirit, Lordship of Christ, the second coming etc... None of these were new. Anyway, perhaps you didnt mean that. Just discussing, not fighting. :)
I grew up in a predominately Catholic neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, in the US, a predominately Christian country. I sent to public school, so was exposed to Christian teachings and texts.
I did not grow up Conservative (as opposed to conservative) but not particularly observant Orthodox, from an extended family which was mostly Reform, living in the suburbs.
Most of my commitment to Judaism arose from my college education - at a public, secular college. I took a number of history courses that taught me the history of the development of the Gospels within the context of the politics of the Roman Empire. I was also involved in the campus Jewish student organization, The Hillel Foundation. I took a number of classes the with the two Jewish chaplains (one was not actually OUR chaplain, but the regional director of Hillel, who had is office at our off campus building) One was Orthodox and one was Reform.
Ironically, Conservative Judaism is actually not that big in New York, although our Seminary is here, so i never had any contact with the denomination until I met Rabbi Sami. After I starred going to my synagogue, I read some books on the history and philosophy and philosophy of Conservative Judaism, and it was the best fit for me.
As a male feminist, I didn't like Orthodoxism, which place women in a secondary place. Having grown up with the Hebrew Liturgy of Orthodox Judaism, the mostly English Liturgy of the Reform movement felt too "light" for me, but I liked it's liberalism. My sister and her family, and later my late mother, joined Reform congregations.
Have I explored other Spiritual paths? Wicca, Buddhism, Quakerism, and a few Protestant Churches. So I cannot be called small minded.
Why am I a Jews? It may sound trite, but because I AM a Jew to the world. I have a Jewish last name and a Jewish face. If I had lived in Germany in 1935, I'd have gone to a Concentration Camp, even if as a child i had converted to Catholicism and became a priest. (Nuns and priests and Protestant Pastors with Jewish PARENTS who converted before they were born went to the Camps under the Nuremberg Racial Purity Laws)
But most of all, I am JEWISH because the Faith, as defined by the Thirteen Principles of Maimonides, is what I believe in. It is MY spiritual path. It is not he path for everyone, and we never claim that it is.
And that is one of the things ii like most about Judaism. We never claim to be the exclusive path to the Eternal.
The concept of the Chosen People is grossly misunderstood. We are Chosen for one task; to Witness to the Oneness of the Creator. That's it. Nothing else special about us.
Alright Jenny, I'm back...
I keep the Biblical Sabbath - Saturday not what people call "The Lord's Day" - Sunday.
As for the other part. What I'm saying is that God gave his church bursts of revelation that carried that truths from the previous ones. So today, God's true church should believe what it's forefathers have brought to the table. Basically those movements restored what was lost.
I just remembered today my one serious delving into Catholicism. I'd been to a few masses.
A friend took me to witness a confirmation ceremony. he was the church organist.
.The Bishop comes to the church for the ceremony,and it is colorful and full of music and pagentry.
Unfortunately it was also full of a LOT of incense. The altar boy was impressed by the BIshop and got carried away
Guess who was allergic to that incense??? By half way through the Eucharist service, my throat was closing up. I managed to take one deep breath as i searched for the nearest exit
I knew that it would be VERY rude to leave at that point, but as soon as the Communion started, I fled out the door, collapsing 3 feet from the door in the churchyard - in December - without a coat!
The Bishop had noticed my dash out the door without a coat, and worried, sent one of his acolytes to check on me, He helped me into the Vestry. The Bishop was lovely to me afterwards.
Needless to say - any form of Christianity with incense was out. I like breathing.
Wow. That's terrifying...
Maybe God wasn't directing you to Catholicism lol. I'm kidding.
It's a good thing someone noticed and cared enough to send someone to see if you were ok. I can't say I've had anything bad happen to me while I went to church.
Have you been to any protestant churches?