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Lamrot Hakol (Despite Everything)

Musings and kvetchings and Torah thoughts from an unconventional Orthodox Jew.

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"I blog, therefore I am". Clearly not true, or I wouldn't exist except every now and then.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

History Repeating Itself

So... yesterday, the Conservative Movement decided that it's okay to ordain gay and lesbian rabbis and to officiate at commitment ceremonies. It looks as though Joel Roth and others on the right wing of that movement are going to bolt.

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) is currently deciding whether or not to accept grads of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) as rabbis. YCT is the extremely left wing Modern Orthodox seminary which started up recently. Think Edah. Think JOFA. Think CLAL.

Now think back about a century...

About a century ago, the Reform Movement had a bunch of their people bolt after the famous "treyfe banquet", in reaction to the way the movement was speeding away from the Torah. In that case, those who broke away got together with the extreme left wing of Jews identifying as Orthodox and merged into what became the Conservative movement.

This has been coming for some time. There is no difference, either hashkafically or in terms of observance, between YCT/Edah/JOFA/CLAL Jews and UTJ/Roth Jews. The right wing of the Conservative Movement and the far left wing of Modern Orthodoxy are only separated by the labels they use for themselves.

Conservative Jews deny Torah miSinai. Orthodox Jews insist on Torah miSinai. These folks in the middle give lip service to it, and may actually accept it, more or less, but they're kind of fuzzy about it.

I expect they'll call it the Traditional Movement, or something like that. That way they can keep the Mesorati label and make the Conservatives be Shamrani, or some such. I mean, since they're continuing to deny that they're Reform.


Blogger thanbo said...

Not likely. EDAH/YCT have made quite clear they are not interested in merging with UTJ. UTJ is itself moribund, they have a lot of trouble attracting new shuls, and placing their rabbis. Too many of their rabbis are Seminary products with Seminary organizational ideas (a Law Committee, etc.) and won't countenance joining up with Orthodox.

EDAH/YCT meanwhile, wants to place its rabbis in O shuls, and isn't trying to build a real separate congregational organization to compete with OU. So they don't want to merge with UTJ, which itself refuses to use the word Orthodox in any self-descriptive way.

UTJ, for all its inability to commit to mechitza, is still sufficiently pro-mechitza that some of those who just split off from the RA, who are genuinely egalitarian, would feel uncomfortable there.

There would have to be a lot of movement on all sides for a merger to be reasonable.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

UTJ may get a major boost from the Conservative decision. Where do you think Joel Roth is going to go?

And YCT may want to place its rabbis in Orthodox shuls, but the feeling may not be mutual.

I think that most of the YCT types identify as Orthodox for emotional reasons, rather than ideological ones. Their ideology isn't Orthodox, after all. They're Orthoprax, sure, but their hashkafa really isn't any different than most right-wing Conservative positions.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Ben-Yehudah said...

B"H Lisa, thank you for clearing this up for me. (giggling out loud) Your last line was really the punch line.

This confirms my suspicion: "The Conservative Movement is neither 'conservative' nor even a 'movement.' Discuss amongst yourselves...." (alla Mike Myers as Linda Richman)

10:15 PM  
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6:22 PM  
Blogger Alex said...


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4:24 PM  
Blogger Feivi said...

Lisa, I couldn't find any other way to contact you. I was wondering whether you had given up blogging? I personally want to thank you for many of your posts that helped me with different issues I was dealing with. I hope all is well with you, and hope we'll see you blogging again.


4:23 PM  
Blogger Mikewind Dale said...

Kind of fuzzy about TSBP? Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasner wrote an entire hakdamah about it, and Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits wrote two books and many articles and book chapters about it.

(It's worth noting that Rabbi Avi Weiss's description of TSBP sounds remarkably similar to Rabbi Berkovits's. Personally, I also see parallels to Rabbi Berkovits, in Rabbi Dr. Isidore Epstein's Foreword to the Soncino Midrash Rabbah.)

4:19 PM  
Blogger Mikewind Dale said...

The Wissenschaft folks, who are more or less the predecessors of Conservative, themselves admitted that they were studying Judaism as one would study a specimen before the specimen disappears.

Alternatively, Conservative fell apart, not due to the right-wing-and-practically-Orthodox JTS Talmudic scholars, but rather, due to the left-wing RA scholars. Rabbi Dr. J. H. Hertz, for example, was JTS's first graduate - would anyone today, however, accuse him of being Conservative?

I have confidence that R' Weiss is more like JTS than RA. Similarly, R' Weinberg defended R' Berkovits (against accusations of being Conservative) by saying that R' Berkovits had yirat shamayim, and David Glasner defends R' Moshe Shmuel Glasner (against accusations of being Wissenschaft) by saying that R' Glasner was committed to the halakhic system.

R' Berkovits, regarding women, says (to paraphrase from memory), "This is not because, G-d forbid, we are 'Modern Jews' or because we are 'post-Enlightenment Jews', and not because, G-d forbid, we wish to lighten the burdensome load of Torah and make life easier for ourselves, G-d forbid, but because we are JEWS, and this is what the Torah has made us."

One might disagree with all the preceding authorities, and such is one's prerogative, but I feel it unfair to compare them to Reform and Conservative.

4:25 PM  

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