It’s Shavuot, and while I am here, my wife is at a synagogue where they will spend much of the night in study. This, along with some fine blintzes we had tonight is one of the nicer customs of this holiday. I still remember that as a child we wore all white to celebrate shavuot, and one particularly cheesy memory includes some sort of headband made from wheat stalks and some other “fruits of the land.”

We know from ancient historians that on this holiday, one of the three regalim that were occasions to journey on a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem, Israelites from Israel, Judea and even other nations such as Babylon would make the journey, or send emissaries on the behalf. This was a harvest festival, an agricultural celebration and thanks to God. After the Temple was destroyed, early rabbis began the transformation of this holiday to a celebration of the giving to the Torah at Sinai to the people of Israel. Matan Torah.

Tonight we invited friends over. There were a zillion kids running around and ignoring any discussion of the holiday and the Torah (well, except for the part where they had to listen because they couldn’t touch the food unless they did). Everybody brought some food and it was a nice mix because somebody did bring fruit and vegetables they had grown while another brought blintzes that reminded us all of, well, an earlier generation of Jewish mothers circa 1950s and 1960s. We discussed conversion (sorry folks, the discussion began because of a friend who had just converted within the Reform movement and who will now add her vivacity and lovely personality to the Jewish people, raise her children as Jews, celebrate Jewish holidays as a Jew and will never be recognized by many Jews as a Jew), the Torah, the ten commandments and of course, Jewish education. Then my wife went out to the synagogue.

So I thought about what might be worthwhile to share with you all on this chag, and remembered that I had seen an ad for online Hebrew and Judaism courses. I don’t mean this to be an advertisement, and I welcome anybody to suggest other resources, but this ad touted a serious online program at Hebrew College, a transdenominational college in MA, that declares its mission as follows:

Through the study of Jewish religion, culture, civilization and Hebrew language, Hebrew College is committed to educating students of all ages and backgrounds to become knowledgeable, creative participants, educators and leaders in the Jewish community and the larger world.

They offer what seems to be an intensive online series of courses, and while I have no idea about the costs involved, nor can I vouch for their quality at all, they appear to be a serious institution and I would think that this might be an interesting pursuit for those who wish to further their education. Face it, other than using your time wisely by reading Jewlicious daily, there aren’t many other Internet activities that would serve your personal Jewish growth as greatly.

You can locate Hebrew College’s website here.

You can download their Hebrew program catalogue here (pdf).

Chag sameach.

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  • …a friend who had just converted within the Reform movement and who will now add her vivacity and lovely personality to the Jewish people, raise her children as Jews, celebrate Jewish holidays as a Jew and will never be recognized by many Jews as a Jew
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    If this person really does “celebrate the Jewish holidays like a Jew” (does she plan on fasting on Tisha B’av? Does she KNOW what Tisha B’av is?) and “raise her children to be Jews” (are they attending a day school? After school program? Will that continue beyond Bar/Bat Mitzvah age?)

    – if she REALLY does any of this, she will be way ahead of most Reform Jews.

    Most Non-orthodox Jews barely mark Passover and the High Holidays, and know nothing of the Shavuot holiday at all. And most are giving their kids no real Jewish education.

    And we haven’t even touched on exactly what “Jewish education” and “Jewish practice” mean in the Torah-optional Reform milieu. There are Christians who call themselves “Pentecostalists” in direct reference to Shavuot – are they included, too? Why not?

    Nice try, though – desperately attempting to paint the sectarian debate in the broad emotional strokes of victimology politics. Unfortunately the facts of Reform’s disintegration are widely known – including the widespread, demonstrable ignorance and lack of practice of most Reform Jews.

    Most relevantly, the often-repeated data reveal the rising phenomenon of “single-generation Jews” who covert Reform, but remain so “open” and “liberal” that their kids drift back out of Judaism. It’s much more likely your friend and her kids will follow this trajectory than any other.

    I’ll keep my violin in its case for this sob-story.

  • what a horrible thing to say! we should be stoked anytime any person wants to convert to the Judaism. My mom converted when she marryed my dad, 10 years before I was born. I was raised Reconstructionist, went to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday school, had a Bar Mitzvah and then went to a Jewish high school. While I have slowly been coming back to practicing Judaism, I feel like most of the kids I went to Jewish high school with may be more knowledgable about the religion, but are awful spiteful. My mom, and other mothers and fathers of friends who converted are typically way more observant, knowledgable and involved in the Jewish community because they don’t take it for granted.

  • Obviously there is only room for homogeneous Judaism in the world (as all people are exactly the same).


  • I can’t eat food that isn’t kosher. And it hurts me greatly that I can’t recognize non-kosher conversions. Everyone has a right to live by whatever rules they want. I also have a right to live by my standards, as unforgiving as they may seem to outsiders.

  • You can eat anywhere you want to – but yes, even a vegetarian/vegan restaurant isn’t kosher. Why? A vegetarian restaurant may use cheese that contains rennet, an emulsifying agent made out of the lining of animal stomachs. Now a vegan restaurant wouldn’t use that and some vegetarian restaurants use rennet free cheese but without supervision, you never know what goes on in the back. I recall walking through the kitchen of an ostensibly vegetarian restaurant that even billed itself as kosher. The kitchen staff were making themselves lunch – yummy, decidedly non-vegetarian sausages. Hmmm. Finally, food prepared on the sabbath is considered non-kosher. Most Crispy Creme doughnut locations are kosher but when buying doughnuts on a saturday night you have to ask exactly when the doughnuts were made so that you don’t buy any made on the sabbath. Those are the orthodox standards. If you are reform or conservative other standards apply such that shrimp encrusted fish sticks can, and do have a reform rabbi’s kosher seal.

  • Well, I wasn’t saying that a veggie/vegan restaurant is kosher, but I know many orthodox Jews who will eat at one and kind of look the other way in terms of rennet – especially for pizza, if nothing else (especially if you’re in an area that doesn’t have many or any kosher restaurants or pizza places).

    So the problem with the analogy of refusing non-kosher food and therefore refusing non-kosher conversions is that many people are willing to bend kashrut in order to eat out, but the same people are not willing to bend kashrut when a person earnestly converts to Judaism under Reform (or less than Orthodox, I suppose, according to Ben-David) supervision.

  • No, the sign that says “vegetarian” doesn’t mean kosher. It’s a fine analogy because many (many, but not most) Orthodox may bend these rules (especially in a time of weakness), but that doesn’t make it kosher.

  • ck, if you’re going to go after other movements, please investigate your comments first. Please prove that Conservative Jews approve of shrimp encrusted fish sticks.

  • Velvel: I’m not saying that it makes it kosher, I’m saying that it’s almost acceptable although not officially. The problem I have is that there is animosity towards Jews in this situation who do really want to be part of the Jewish community but have converted into a non-Orthodox sect. But one aspect of Kashrut is not more important than another unless Gd says so. Therefore, if an Orthodox Jew is going to eat nonkosher vegetarian food, it follows that s/he must also (if unofficially) accept a nonkosher conversion. If a Jew is going to openly reject a Jew who does not convert according to his/her standards, s/he must then openly reject any and all other activities that could be considered unkosher (or that would deal with unkosher items).

  • ** I meant to add: Unless Gd specifically says that kosher conversions is more important then kosher dietary laws, in which case you can go ahead and eat unkosher (veggie or no) food/pizza and still discriminate against Reform conversions without worry.

  • TM we used to be conservative in my house the pork chops were awsome and the lobster was out of this world I know it’s not exactly shrimp encrusted bread sticks but you gotta give us a little credit

  • Tzipi thank you next time I get a letter for jury duty I’ll let them know I’m unable to represent my country because I speed and am therefore a criminal

  • Yes, otherwise fine Orthodox people will eat at veggie/vegan places – just go to Zen Pallate on the Upper West Side in NYC anyday of the week and you’ll even see kippahs there – despite the fact that there are numerous kosher options all around. What individual practitioners do however, is irrelevant.

    Having said that, Orthodox Rabbis have, for several years now as far as I know, been quite willing to be innovative when it comes to conversion. Just as Ruth was demonstrably committed to worshipping Hashem, so to anyone who wishes to become Jewish amy do so as long as they join without any preconditions and are demonstrably sincere and committed.

    I have seen people converted by hard core haredi rabbis in as little as two days. An ex of mine converted in less than 5 months. Keep kosher, learn all your brachot, be shomer shabbat, live the life under the tutelage of a practicing family and anyone can be converted. Yes, it requires effort. But I mean, come on … there need to be some standards.

    At the bare minimum you need to believe in the Torah. The Torah sys it was given at Sinai – if you don’t believe that then you don’t believe in the Torah. I mean go ahead, do whatever you like! But in the same way that I will not eat shrimp encrusted fish sticks with a reform hechsher, and surely no one would begrudge me that right, don’t expect me to accept an unkosher conversion. Having said that, regardless of one’s level of practice or what denomination one belongs to, a Jew is a Jew.

  • addendum: I specifically mentioned that the shrimp encrusted fish sticks had a reform seal of kashrut, not a Conservative one.

    I do not as a matter of course, discriminate against people with reform or conservative conversions. I am usually touched by their desire to join the Jewish people and do my little bit to let them know that they are wanted and appreciated. I never hide the fact that I do not consider their conversion legitimate. However, their conversion is an indication of a desire to join the Jewish people and I do whatever I can to keep that process moving. I will invite them to my home for shabbat, I will go to shul with them, I will hook them up with whoever I can to help them continue in their studies of Judaism. But I never lie – I love them, but they will never count in one of my minyans until they convert under the auspices of an Orthodox Rabbi. And you know what? Given how chill I am, no one with whom I have ever dealt with personally on this level has ever been resentful of my beliefs. That’s because I put my money where my mouth is. Now please, tell me again what a reactionary I am for refusing to eat shrimp encrusted fish sticks.

  • ck, dude, nice backing off there, even though I could swear that sentence includes Conservative Jews.

    I keep thinking about that shrimp encrusted fish stick, though, and it troubles me. Since when do Reform Jews have mashgichim? Since when do they have rabbis who provide kashrut approval? After all, don’t they reject the concept as it applies to modern Jews? Is there a Reform organization that provides this kashrut service to companies?

    As for the rest of it, you are honest, ck, and you tell people what you believe in a very straightforward fashion. But yes, you are a reactionary and nobody told you to bring up the straw crustacean of shrimp encrusted fish. In fact, what you need to address are those situations where people have attended conversion and Judaism classes for a year with a knowledgeable rabbi who leads a congregation with hundreds of families, and then pass through a process that tests their knowledge. Explain to me again, if that rabbi is Conservative, how that person isn’t Jewish?

  • Wine Guy, I grew up in a secular household and pork, lobster, shrimp,or seafood other than fish never crossed the threshold. Unkosher meat or food of any kind never entered through the doorway of our home. We did order vegetarian pizzas however, so I guess we would fail the “good Jews” test.

  • wine guy: US law puts different weight on speeding and other crimes (besides other minor traffic violations) – I’m assuming you’re speaking of US law. I can’t say anything for any other countries. But are people convicted of serious crimes allowed to serve on a jury for a trial of a serious crime? (I’m not sure, really)

    There are different punishments for speeding and for stealing or murder, for example, because they are different kinds of crime. Kashrut is kashrut, as far as I know, and are the same kind of law no matter to what they pertain.

    All I’m trying to say is, there is a particularly harsh judgement against Jews who convert in a way that isn’t technically kosher, but other kosher laws are bent on technicalities and that is somehow okay.

  • themiddle: I hope you’re not referring to my comment as a good Jew test! I’m just trying to follow a logical argument to a conclusion.

  • TM,
    Ever have a piece of pizza and found a little piece of topping you didn’t order? I don’t have to debate kashrut or the specific laws here. If you think that Conservative kosher is just as good, you can. Just understand that there are different halachic standards. Conservative conversions aren’t kosher because the word “Conservative” as applied to a Rabbi means that there isn’t up to my halachic standards (I’m sure you’re aware of some halachic differences between Conservative and Orthodox). When something doesn’t have a hechsher, it doesn’t mean that it’s traife, it just means that it’s not certified, and I have nothing on which to base my trust.

    Plenty of Orthodox might eat at vegetarian restaurants. Most do not. Their rabbis won’t. Kosher laws aren’t bent, they’re broken and it doesn’t make breaking other laws ok. In fact, I would rather have someone secretly feed me pork, than have a woman with a Conservative conversion marry my son. One is bad for my soul, the other is bad for the Jewish nation.

    I wish I could call everybody who means well, studies hard and lives as a Jew, a Jew. But good intentions does not make one a Jew. I wish them well, and I will encourage anyone who strives to be a Jew. But becoming a Jew has to be based in the laws. No bending, no breaking.

  • ck: Your attitude towards Reform converts is positive even though you wouldn’t count them in your minyan. So that’s cool. In my shul, a lot of times we have trouble making a minyan in the first place, but we do consider Reform conversions (I guess it really matters on their level of commitment, but because our shul is out of the way and remote, just coming not-on-HH is more commitment than a majority of the Jews in our area).

    You say that individual practice is irrelevant – my argument isn’t that Orthodox Rabbis should accept Reform conversions, my problem is open hostility towards the idea of Reform conversions (and Conservative, in many cases, although I don’t feel like writing that out every time) by people who aren’t really following the rules themselves. That’s what really gets me – not the rules or whatever, it’s the hostility. If you believe a Jew is a Jew, and you are friendly, accepting, and want to help a Reform convert to be more religious and hopefully at some point go to the Orthodox mikveh, that’s one thing. I’m not telling you that you have to believe that they are a kosher Jew and accept them in your minyan. But if you scour even at the idea of someone converting to Reform, yell at them and say nasty things (on the internet mostly since it’s easier to say those things when you’re practically annonymous) to/about their Jewishness and commitment to Judaism based on the idea that their conversion isn’t kosher, then you have to be open to criticism on your own practices of kashrut and commitment to Judaism.

    ok 3 posts in a row, I’m going to sit down for a while 😛

  • You can cry all you want and say that the big bad Orthodox guys won’t share Judaism, and they’re causing all the strife withing the Jewish people. If you have a break-away Jewish movement that is a little more lax on the laws, that’s fine. You’re still Jewish. Just know that you don’t exactly have the gold-standard for bringing in new Jews.

  • ok one more..

    velvel: I don’t see how someone who converted Conservative, with obvious commitment and sincerity towards his/her practices in Judaism, is bad for the Jewish nation.

    I think the problem that people are having with my argument is that it seems like I’m saying that if you eat at an unkosher restaurant it’s okay to break other laws of kashrut. That’s not what I’m saying (it’s mostly an analogy).

    I mean that if you are going to be so judgemental about one area of kashrut you have to be judgemental about them all, on yourself an others. If you break laws yourself then I don’t see how you are in a position to judge other people so harshly.

  • I meant “you” in the general sense, to whomever it applies. If you follow all the laws of kashrut (not just eating in a kosher restaurant, I really didn’t mean for that to be the ONLY other example of breaking kashrut, since there are so many laws) then I guess you can be as judgemental as you want. I just don’t see what yelling and nasty attitudes towards Reform converts accomplishes. Better to personally encourage them in their Jewish studies so they can be a Jew to your standards than to reject them outright and therefore, in your eyes, lose a potential Jew and contributer to our nation.

  • Semantics correction: I said “traife” restaurant, when I meant, “not kosher.”

    Everyone breaks laws. Humans were created so we have the freedom to do so. Some laws broken laws only affect your soul. Some broken laws affect the world.

  • I feel like you aren’t exactly reading what I am trying to say from my responses, but in any case we aren’t going to agree.

  • “If it feels good, do it” is not a valid halachic argument. I welcome all halachic conversions, but I am warm and inviting to converts and heretics of all kinds, and always encourage more education and participation.

    Maybe it doesn’t seem so in this forum, but you know the internet. When I meet people face to face, usually all of Orthodoxy isn’t lumped together and attacked so brazenly. I’m not turning away the converts, I’m trying to reason with the people who see nothing wrong with creating new Jews not (necessarily) fully committed to being Jewish according the laws of Moses and Israel (the nation, not the state).

  • Again, I don’t think you understand what I mean. I’m not attacking all of Orthodoxy. I’m not really trying to attack anyone, what I really wanted to point out was the problem with being nasty to people in one way or another. In a lot of the other discussions and this one to a small degree, the people who refuse to accept certain conversions seem to lead on that they are in the position to judge for the entire nation of Israel. I just feel the attitude and energy is misplaced. Maybe it’s just the internet-y attitude, I don’t know.

    Maybe reasoning with the people who think there’s nothing wrong with doing it a way you don’t like is the wrong approach to the problem. (but from your previous comments, to me it feels more like it’s directed to the choice of the converts, not the people who convert them or think it’s okay)

    I’ve just seen sixty thousand billion gazillion arguments about Jewish conversion online and all of them are harsh and nasty towards the converts themselves and the choices that they make. It makes the converts who participate in the discussion not want to be a part of the movement in Judaism who debases them, and it makes anyone who is considering conversion decide not to be part of that movement, as well. I understand you are supposed to discourage people from converting so that they do it for themselves, but if someone is committed to converting, it doesn’t make sense to insult them and the movement that they chose. That is turning them away and discouraging them from a more religious lifestyle, even if a person doesn’t outright say WE DON’T WANT YOU.

  • I’m not discouraging any Jew from a more religious lifestyle. To encourage a Conservative convert to be more religious, I would say the first step is to visit an Orthodox rabbi who is bound by halacha, and find out what they can do be a certified Jew. If you want to join the club, you have to follow the bylaws. If you’re serious about being Jewish, you will seek out the serious Jews. If you want to accept the yolk of the Torah, you have to accept all the responsibility. If you’re discouraged by me saying I don’t approve of you marrying my kids, I’m sorry. Black, white, Polish, Irish, Arab… whatever nation or race you come from, if you convert by the Orthodox process, you can be a part of my family.

  • Reform has moved to where their members are at. They don’t want to much dogma, but they want something.
    I don’t see why Orthodox people have such a problem w/ Reform.
    They are not the problem. The ones who want nothing is the problem.
    I recently worked at such a home. Very wealthy people throwing a party. I felt like the only Jewish person there, except for one relative maybe. A free Jewish education would not have been helpful, i.e. the tuition costs were not the issue for them. They want nothing much to do w/ Judaism. Their children will likely intermarry.That is the problem.

  • velvel: saying that you don’t want your kids to marry a Reform convert is one thing (it also depends on how you say it as to how it is taken). And I’m not saying that YOU personally do this, but when the issue of conversion comes up a lot of times it just degrades to insulting various movements in Judaism and their practices and whatnot which ends up making the divide between movements even larger and makes more people even more unenthusiastic about Judaism.

    There are ways to state your beliefs, there are appropriate times, etc.. I just don’t think that many people know when to judge when is the appropriate time/way of announcing how they believe to people who feel differently.

  • I converted within the conservative movement, and while it does pain me a bit that the orthodox reject my conversion, despite my keeping mitzvot and halacha I do have to remind myself that I chose not to have an orthodox conversion. I did in fact know the “consequences” of doing so, but it still stings a bit to think that there is a part of the people Israel that do not recognize this part of my identity.

  • Wait! EPIPHANY!

    The problem is some Orthodox Jews with their constant aggression against other Jews.

    If you happen to be a convert reading this blog and getting the impression you are less than a fine Jew, be advised that most Jews consider you one of us and welcome you into the fold.

  • so:
    tzipi starts out by implying that all Orthodox people are hypocrites for not keeping every jot and tiddle of kashrut – and should therefore STFU about conversion.

    Then when called on it, she backtracks to the old tolerance-victimology-all-I-meant-was-we-should-all-be-friends rigamarole.


    Our Story So Far:

    Since the Enlightenment, a series of Jews with their noses pressed against the shopwindow of Western society have delivered a series of hand-on-hip harangues to us backward, primitive, covenant-honoring Jews. A range of substitute ideologies have been proposed – Reform, Conservative, Socialism, and just plain Liberalism.

    All of them have failed miserably – spectacularly! – to live up to their own ideological promises, or even to maintain baseline Jewish affiliation.

    It is now 2005/5765 – over 30 years since secular American Jewry started desparately surveying the community, searching for the bodies – their children’s bodies! – that have gone missing from these substitute Judaisms.

    The only trend even approaching the magnitude of non-covenantal Judaism’s collapse has been the renaissance of the Judaism of the Ages – the one with a G-d, a Torah, and a binding covenant.

    With nothing to cover the naked truth of their faiilure, non-covenantal Jews try to win arguments in 2 ways: Some try brazenly repeating the finger-shaking, condescending, get-with-the-program lectures of yesteryear – which have been overtaken by events and rendered bittely ironic.

    Others – like our middle-man and Ms. Tzipi – try to play the victimology game: when The Rest of Us insist on conducting the discussion here, now, against a Jewish landscape dotted with the smoldering ruins of “progressive” Judaism – when we insist on asking THE most important questions that American Jews must ask themselves here, now, in 2005/5765 – we are branded as “intolerant”.

    Sorry folks – the flaming failure of non-covenantal Judaism, the surprising ability of old-time Judaism to provide valid, engaging spiritual constructs for the modern world without any nose jobs, thank you – these are all not only valid points of conversation, they MUST be THE point of departure if we are to correct the mistakes of the past.

    We are not “intolerant” for insisting on keeping the covenant that has proven its worth and relevance. And we are not “intolerant” for asking the tough questions about exactly what wounded-and-limping ideological pastiches we are supposed to “tolerate” and accept under the rubric of Judaism.

  • Elon,
    If you keep all the mizvot and were aware of the consequences, then why didn’t you go the orthodox route? This way you would have been accepted by all deniminations and movements…

  • Hi, Ben-David.

    I didn’t mean to say that ALL Orthodox people are hypocrits, and I didn’t mean to say that any specifically are. I’m pointing out inconsitencies in logic in following law.

    If I back-tracked on it, I also didn’t mean to do that. But velvel was making a different point and the two points got confused while we were discussing them which was why the responses were muddled and back-tracky.

    And, although I might not have said this out right, I’m not saying that ONLY Orthodox people have hostility towards other Jews. I’m saying the problem is with the hostility, the way you go about doing things and explaining your actions to other people who feel different – NOT the beliefs themselves. So you don’t think that people who converted under Reform supervision are Jews – I’m not saying you have to. I’m saying that by openly judging these people and saying nasty things about them and their conversion, that person opening himself up to inconsistencies in your own life and following Judaism. You aren’t perfect and therefore not in a position to judge people condescendingly. So someone eats unkosher food every once in a while, so what? But that person not in the position to judge others on their observance of kashrut without opening him/herself up to examination on that point as well. There is a better approach.

    IF you believe that this is such a huge issue, arguing about it on the internet isn’t going to do any good. You can type until your fingers fall off but you are never going to convince anyone of your point. And, if all you can do is argue on the internet for whatever reason, insulting people and the choices they make and the movements they belong to is not going to get you anywhere. You are not going to convince a Reform Jew that Orthodoxy is the way to go by putting them down, really.

    (that was the second point, which got muddled by the first, which is why I think it was confusing)

  • No Ephraim, I wasn’t posting dafka. I was posting because that’s when I wanted to discuss the chag. Unlike you, I don’t see why I can’t use a computer, especially to discuss a Jewish topic and create a discussion about a Jewish subject, even on a chag. How is this different than having a conversation with our guests earlier in the evening?

  • Josh-man – I think it is a combination of 2 things:
    1. Torah mi’sinai
    2. How Orthodox Judaism was presented to me.

    They may be interrelated but i have a hard time just simply ignoring some of the evidence against torah mi’sinai on principle of orthodoxy. I think that forgoing this bit just to have a conversion that is accepted by all denominations would have been dishonest.
    Also, I got a very odd vibe from the Rabbi who was my only exposure to Orthodox Judaism, and since the Jewish community I began in is small, he was the only orthodox rabbi i had the opportunity to be exposed to. There were things he said, and ways he handled some other potential converts that rubbed me very wrong.
    I’d love to hear any of the orthodox on this board’s perspective on these issues, you can email them to me to avoid clutter.

  • Ben David, of course you’re intolerant. You hear about a person who wants to be a Jew, who studies to become a Jew, who wants to raise their children Jewish, and then you exclaim that this individual is not a Jew and won’t be considered a Jew unless they do it a la Orthodox.

    Also, all this boastfulness about the Orthodox and the dancing on the “grave” of “progressive” Judaism.

    I wonder how well the Orthodox communities would be doing if Israel didn’t subsidize their lifestyle (including the large number of children). I wonder how well the Orthodox community in the US would do if there weren’t broader community dollars coming in to assist. It’s “progressive” Jews in Israel and outside of it who provide the majority of the support for these institutions. Who do you think subsidizes my local Orthodox day school?

    I also wonder about the values and morality that bring a person to say they’d rather eat pork than have a Conservative Jew marry their son. Is there any word for that other than “disgusting?”

    The other day, in the messages erased from my first education post, we had an Orthodox Jew proclaim that a law-breaking rabbi who is Orthodox is better than a solid citizen, Judaism-loving, kind and generous Conservative Jew. Incredible.

    I don’t feel excluded. I feel as though you’re excluding yourselves. Well, then again, you’re excluding yourselves to a degree and when it’s convenient. You don’t have a problem using the institutions and resources of the Jewish community or the Jewish state, for example. You just don’t accept the people who support those institutions; they are not Jewish according to you.

    I think that if this is the ethical position you take, you should exclude yourselves – meaning any Orthodox Jews who subscribe to the things that have been said here about other Jewish denominations – from receiving any support from anybody who doesn’t fit your criteria. Oh, and don’t play games by saying that somebody is Jewish because their mother is Jewish. Either we are Jews or we’re not. A Conservative convert is no different from any other Conservative Jew, Jewish mother or not.

  • Yeah, OK, I see your point. I guess its OK to violate the halakha if it’s for a good “Jewish” reason.

    Never looked at it like that. How could I have been so blind?

  • Ephraim, I do a lot of other things which violate halacha. Don’t worry, I’m not really Jewish because I question oral law and I believe the Torah was written by human beings.

  • TM,
    “A Conservative convert is no different from any other Conservative Jew, Jewish mother or not.” And are you speaking for the “real” Jews (ie – non-Orthodox)?

    For the Orthodox the statement is pretty much 100% wrong. It’s basic halacha, that you are fully aware of but can’t comprehend. You are a Jew because you were born Jewish and someone whom your Rabbi converts isn’t Jewish, because it wasn’t done according the halacha.

    I’m not trying to say anything nasty, only that I can’t accept these conversions, and it’s painful to me.

    I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have a state of Israel that is supported purely by halachic Jews.

  • I believe that any Conservative rabbi who provides a conversion would agree with me that at that point the convert is no less a Jew than I (or you, from that rabbi’s perspective).

    And why do you think I can’t “comprehend” the “basic halacha?” Are you that much smarter than me? Is every Orthodox Jew smarter than me?

  • There’s really nothing to argue about, TM.

    According to Orthodoxy someone born to a Jewish mother can eat bacon everyday, convert to Xianity, Islam, Hari Krishne and will still be Jewish until the day he dies.

    Someone who converts via a Conservative rabbi will be unable to be counted as a Jew by the Orthodox. Even if he studies Torah everyday, keeps Cholov Yisroel, Glatt, is on the Jewish Federation’s mailing list, and writes a commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud.

    That’s the nature of halacha. It’s a set of rules that may not make sense to everybody all the time. And that’s precisely why we can rely on them so exclusively.

  • Of course a Conservative rabbi would say that a conservative convert is a Jew. What exactly is the chiddush in that statement?

  • You seem to have difficulty comprehending my original statement, which I’ve repeated in just about every post here that according to halacha, ie- Orthodox Judasim, it’s different than you believe. And you seem to be reiterating your point that a Reform convert is a real Jew. Ok…. so what? Have you educated anybody with that statement?

  • Yes, Orthodox rules, man’s laws not G-d’s. The Orthodox need to get back to the Torah and not the rules made by the various Rabbis over time. You would thing that they were Catholic, living by other than G-d’s rules. Who gave these Rabbis the authority to add to G-d’s laws anyway? Not G-d!!!!

  • we already know you’re an apikores, Middle. That’s old news, and you should stop bragging about it. It’s boring, and you might hurt yourself pattng yourself on the back like that all the time.

    Orthodox Jews aren’t necessarily smarter than you, Middle. We just don’t believe that jettisoning tradition in order to make Judaism more attractive to people who are in the market for a religion that suits their lifestyle is the proper way to do things, that’s all.

    Jews who are born Jews are Jews, no matter what they do and what they believe. Converts are a different matter. You know that, of course, but you’re just being petulant to try to prove a point.

  • Ephraim, the Orthodox establish the rancor by how they treat the other streams of Judaism, it is a fait accompli. THe Orthodox are not open on this issue, but in many other areas, they make changes on a dime. Not only that, but the structure of Orthodoxy is falling apart, see the kids on drugs there.

  • Yes. Far too many Orthodox drug users plaguing the streets. We’ll get on that right away.

    Reform split away from traditional Judaism effectively creating the tag “Orthodox” for those who kept going the same way. Conservative then broke away from Reform. All of these people are Jews.

    The Orthodox have always had the same rules. The Jews that split away have fewer rigid laws and are much more tolerant of everyone’s new standards. The standards on many things fall into question when we have cross-sect interaction. No one complains because the new standards allow for more places to eat. The question of “who is a Jew” is especially distressing to everybody because this is only time that someone’s Jewishness is actually called into question.

    The fact that Conservative or Reform converts aren’t accepted by the Orthodox shouldn’t be shocking to anyone. Orthodox stayed the same, and Conservative and Reform made the changes. Yet it’s (obviously) taken very personally that the Orthodox can’t accept someone who follows one path of Judaism even though the process is not in accordance with halacha.

    The part that bugs the Conservative and Reform and makes their rabbis give anti-Orthodox speeches in the their temples, is that their whole new-Jew ideology is based on universal acceptance and liberalism. Orthodox can’t accept the new conversions because there isn’t the same regard to halacha. The law has always been the law. But Conservative and Reform have no choice but to accept Orthodox institutions, because they can’t make any enforceable edicts banning them.

  • Someone remind me again about the conversation we had regarding the stringency of Ruth’s conversion.

  • Oh my God! I guess Conservative is the REAL authentic Judaism! I cast off my yolk of Rabbis and halacha!

    There are many exceptions to our halacha throughout the Tanach. So what?

  • My mother had a conservative conversion and later an orthodox conversion along with me my brother and sister. All in all conversion was a wonderful experience which I wouldn’t trade for anything however my parents were lied to they thought they were getting a conversion that was acceptable to everyone.

    I was at a reconstuctionist conversion last year Three “rabbis” gave a man a torah he repeated the Shema after them and he was Jewish
    Do you think this should be an acceptable conversion? Conversion is a reenactment of Sinia people, where you accept the oral and written torah, it a big responcibility and should be taken seriously.

  • No, I don’t think that’s an acceptable conversion, Wine Guy, and nowhere did I say it was. Your stories are like ck’s shrimp encrusted fish sticks – I’ve never heard or seen such a thing but it is his major counterpoint to the evil of Reform and Conservative Judaism.

    I believe that if someone takes numerous classes over a period of months and has a rabbi teaching them, or alteratively, spends the months teaching themselves and then speaks to a rabbi who checks their knowledge, I believe that is acceptable to me.

    Velvel, it’s interesting that you make the comment you do about what constitutes “real” Judaism. How do you know what constitutes “real” Judaism? After all, the Judaism you practice is an interpretation of how Jews should practice their faith after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

    What if they got it wrong? Did oral law account for the destruction of the Temple? I don’t think so, they were sacrificing and doing regalim prior to then. So, what if they got it wrong?

  • Why do you keep (your version of) kosher, TM? Just in case the rabbis kept it together after the destruction of the Temples?

  • The history of conversion does not seem to present a unified tradition. Ruth seemed to have simply declared herself a Jew. Hillel demanded would be converts go out and study. Gerim (sp?) in ancient Israel could marry into the tribe. The laws seemed to develop somewhere during the time before the second exile.

    So it looks like lots of people have converted without following an orthodox conversion process. Are they not Jews in your eyes? No doubt Muffti is misunderstanding and it would be nice to be cleared up on this issue.

    CK, finally heard from the Urban P-master. Should see him soon.

  • If the laws were developed before the second exile, then it appears most of Israel was in agreement with the new standards, no?

  • This just in Reformists show up 2000 years late… they are deffinately Jewish.. Gotta send this to Guiness

  • You can’t prove that my tradition is wrong any more than I can prove that my tradition is correct. This discussion is growing increasingly futile and annoying. Your rabbis told you my rabbis are wrong, and vice-versa.

    Why don’t we all just continue on our way (after your closing arguments, of course) and choose to argue the next time TM decides to put down a large sect of the Jewish population with a passing parenthetical statement.

    Only so many times I can obsessively refresh this page looking for God knows what.

  • Muffti isn’t sure that that is the point, Velvel. The question is whether or not the pre-‘agreement’ (if there was such agreement) converts counted or not. King David himself was descended from a ‘convert’ chick (Ruth) whose conversion proceeded in an unspecified way.

  • This was a good Shavuot for me, as were most
    since I learned of the concept. I had a bit of a
    confrontation with my own ignorance. This wasn’t
    an easy one for me. I consider myself educated
    and experienced in jewish matters; so I thought….

    I had a talk with the Rabbi of where I spent the
    holiday and a lady who is a graduate of the
    Jewish Theological Seminary. All three of us was
    at the Rabbi’s house for shmoozing durring the
    Shavout night learning time. The JTS grad later
    went on to a “orthodox” semminary in Jerusalem
    after she graduated JTS with honors, where I
    believe she is still a student. I heard from the two, Rabbi and the JTS grad, the word “apikorsis”
    applied to certain conservative rabbis and what
    conservative teach and do in general. I started
    questioning that. It seemed to me, at the time,
    they were throwing that word, “apikorsis” around
    rather casually. My experience with leaders and
    Rabbis of the conservative is they would’nt even
    qualify as “apikorsis.” The way I learned the
    definition of apikorsis means someone who is
    highly educated, very distinguised in learnedness
    and had some kind of position of authority based
    on that and was using or twisting that influence to lead jews astray from Torah and Torah
    observance. In all my years with conservative, I
    never met any of thier leaders who could qualify
    for such a position. I don’t believe I was influenced by any of thier leaders to abandon my faith. If fact, it really seemed to me the opposite. I learned shabat observance from a conservative Hillel club director when I was I went to a big secular University. I tried to make that clear to the Rabbi and the JTS grad. The JTS grad told me she knew many students enter the JTS shabat observant and listen to Rabbis and teachers there who told them that such observance isn’t relevent anymore and there is no point; therefore the choice for many was to abandon shabat observance. I have never really seen that myself. However, I didn’t know of anything of the JTS. I certainly do know something of the University Judiasim in Los Angeles. I know some of the grads and students over the years. From my experiece, I wouldn’t say that of the UJ like what the JTS grad said of where she went. What I certainly don’t really understand is the relationship between the two places, UJ and JTS. I have reason to think that there may be a West coast vs. East coast spin on this. I would say I am ignorant of the extent the conservative operate in the east coast; therefore
    ignorant of the true extent of the influence of the conservative movement, despite my own
    experience and eductation.

  • Here is my offensive parenthetical comment:

    (sorry folks, the discussion began because of a friend who had just converted within the Reform movement and who will now add her vivacity and lovely personality to the Jewish people, raise her children as Jews, celebrate Jewish holidays as a Jew and will never be recognized by many Jews as a Jew)

    How is that offensive? How does that attack anybody? More important, after the discussion here, how is it off the mark? I assumed some of you wouldn’t respect her conversion and some of you have gone a step further and indicated that I’m a lousy Jew as well.

    Velvel, you didn’t really address my questions about Ruth and about oral law. The destruction of the Temple, for example, is the reason we say the shemoneh esreh prayer, right? It is the reason we celebrate the 3 regalim in our homes and synagogues in ways completely different from the Temple days. It is the reason we have synagogues and prayers. So how do you know whether they got this right?

    Why do you accept that the only way to become a Jew is something the Torah itself does not seem to require?

    One more point. I have never been told by a non-Orthodox rabbi what I should think about the Orthodox, and I rarely have heard disparaging comments about the Orthodox, although I have heard disappointment about being left out of what is considered a kosher practice of Judaism.

    Finally, with respect to the question of why I keep my version of traditions, it is because I value, respect, enjoy and even love these traditions as well as some of the values they impart. Imagine that, I do it not because I’m afraid (Heb. – yareh) of a God or desperately trying to please him/her but because I value the traditions.

  • TM what do you think Ruth would do if she was here today

    she arrives with Naomi and they tell her shes not Jewish she needs to go to a Mikvah and meet with a Bais din

    would she say no?

  • If I follow the story, I would think that she would seek to learn the laws and then declare herself committed to Jewish life.

    Since Naomi was not a rabbi, and in fact was a woman in a patriarchal world, but Ruth felt comfortable making her conversion directly with her, I would think that this would be sufficient for Ruth today.

    I don’t think Ruth would say to a rabbi, “Excuse me, but you’re Conservative so I can’t trust you to convert me.”

    I’m open to hearing other interpretations.

  • Ruth would have an Orthodox conversion in the most respected Bais din she could find. So would anyone else unless they don’t actually want to except Torah and Mitzvot on themselves.

    A conservative conversion is easier and being conservative is easier, Judiasm is not about whats easy for us. It would have been easier for Ruth to stay in Moav, it would be easier to drive on shabbos, it would be easier not to Daven three times a day, it would be easier to accept any as being Jewish who feel Jewish.

    And that conservative Rabbi would be totally frummed out after two minutes with Ruth

  • Wine Guy-
    I think that you are treading down a slippery slope. What if Maimonides were here today, would he still believe in Torah mi’sinai? Would he be orthodox? I mean we are talking about a Doctor, a Philiosopher and a scientist on top of being a brilliant jewish scholar, what’s to say he wouldn’t have a new perspective?
    What about the very rebbe who came up with the Oral law?

    This is of course all speculation, but that is sort of my point. Not to mention, my conversion consisted of going to the mikvah and meeting with a beit din…but alas, that is not enough to gain acceptance within the orthodox community. I’m not trying to say they aren’t right, that’s not my place, like i said, i knew all of this before i went through with my conversion, I’m pressing as to the why.

  • Wine Guy, maybe you’re right. But my take is a bit different. Ruth didn’t act as she did because it was more challenging. She acted as she did because she loved her family and their god. People don’t do something because it’s harder. They do it because it feels right and it seems appropriate for them and in line with their beliefs. Ruth took the harder road but it was because of her appreciation of the good things that Naomi’s way of life had to offer.

    If I apply those values to today, her choice would not revolve around what is more disciplined or challenging. (In fact, although most Orthodox posters here take great pride in
    “not taking the easy way” or the hardship of maintaining an Orthodox lifestyle, whoever said this was the point of Judaism?!). Her choices would involve how she comes to love and respect the traditions of the Jewish people.

    You think she’ll see beauty in Orthodoxy. I think that you may be right, and you may be absolutely wrong. My guess is Conservative, and I know a couple of rabbis who will light up her eyes with passion and love for our traditions. 😉

  • p.s. i didn’t choose conservative judaism because it was easier..and i don’t drive on shabbos, and i daven three times a day….i never understood much of anything being easy concerning becoming jewish, and that’s the first thing anyone has said that has been offensive to me, call me sensitive.

  • dear themiddle,

    Is there a difference between Conservative and orthodoxy?

  • Elon,

    Do you care that youre conversion is not acceptle to the “orthodox?”

  • themiddle,

    What reason is there to be concerned that youre friend’s conversion isn’t acceptable to the “orthodox?”

  • Elon can and should have a very meaningful life as a Conservative Jewish follower. He will be missing very little really. If he endeavours for more serious study he could do so in a Conservative academy, albeit in probably only 3 or 4 USA Cities. In Israel, it would be more prevalent.
    He could decide to study the Orthodox lifestyle, there are many organizations that will take him for a Shabbos in a frum community, most likely in NY, but I understand that out of NY’ers are brought like that for a Shabbos. It would be at a point where basically it involves taking on additional stringencies or hardships that is the major difference in the 2 communities. Davening is davening, it is either inspiring, boring, or a combination. In many Conservative congs, there is much, as much or a bit less learning, going on.
    What exactly would he be missing by not going thru the rigors of Orthodox life, perhaps some of them can expand on this.

  • Elon,
    Regarding Maimonides, it’s doubtful whether he would have too much of a liberal perspective… he did not live in the dark ages, but rather in quite an advanced environment. The Arabic world was far more advanced than Europe. He was very much exposed to the philosophies (and sophistries) of his time, actually The Guide to the Perplexed dealt with setting people (liberal or unacquiainted with their Judaism) straight. He discussed vegeterianism, which apparently was a trend of those days too, and he came out against it. He was a strong supporter of the Rabbinical Judaism, very firm in his beliefs and yet at the same time very worldly. Sure his view received the ire of some Jewry that resulted in the burning of his books, but he stood by and advocated mainstream, traditional, rabinnical Judaism. Take a look at his 13 principles. Although technology has come a long way, and we have been brought under the banner of tolerance and liberal views, man has not become smarter or that much more advanced, more connected maybe. Given the highly advanced environment that Rambam lived in, his education, his acumen, not to mention the strong Karaite presence in Egypt (who would be somewhat akin to the modern breakaway Jewish streams, only battling the rabbinical Jews more vigorously, being vehemently opposed to Oral law and having a much higher appeal and more convincing arguments) I seriously doubt that Rambam would be swayed to be lax on Oral law and the Rabbinical teachings in our modern day and age.

  • Re conversions: My parents married at a reform synagogue, which was closest to where they lived. A year or so later, when they had started becoming religious, they realised that the reform wedding wasn’t good enough and so went to get married by an orthodox shule.
    As it happens, my mother was asked for her parents’ ketubah. My grandparents had also married reform, so that wasn’t proof of her being Jewish for orthodox purposes. So she was then asked for her grandmother’s ketubah. My great-grandmother didn’t have any of her personal records – no marriage certificate, no ketubah, or even a birth certificate because of poor record keeping and a fire in the archives of the town she was from.
    So, my mother had to convert, despite being Jewish. By the time she finished the orthodox conversion – almost three years after first getting married – she was pregnant with me. She was 7 months pregnant with me when she had the orthodox wedding.
    As a result, I was forbidden from marrying a kohen, because it was considered that I had converted in utero.
    All the way through my dating years, it was probably the first thing I asked a guy after “are you single”. A little embarassing and full on – I felt it was like asking them to marry me before I had even dated them properly…
    Has anyone ever heard of this situation before? What are the rabbinical sources for such a ruling?

  • NSN – I care more than i thought i would actually. I think it’s difficult for born jews to understand what all has gone into my experience, and for a group of jews to say “sorry, not good enough, i don’t even recognize you as a jew”, it stings a bit, that’s all. Think about it like this, if i were to go to an orthodox shul in a town where there was no conservative shul to daven sacharit it would be an uncomfortable experience for all involved if i were to lay tefillin and put on my tallis, since to the orthodox i am not even a jew, while to me I am keeping mitzvot do you see the conflict?

  • Josh Man- Like i said, i’m speculating..but as advanced as you seem to think the arab world was while rambam was alive, it was still the middle ages.
    “You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes” -rambam
    I’m just sayin….

  • Elon maimonades would believe in Torah m’sinia just as many other scientists doctors and physicists do. I appoligize for offending you its wonderful that you are shomer shabbos and that you daven. Most conservative jews however do not (yes I’m making a generalization general and accurate)

    “They do it because it feels right and it seems appropriate for them and in line with their beliefs”
    there are many things in Judaism that don’t feel right should we each drop the mitzva we have a problem with?
    I would love to meet some inspirational conservative Rabbis hasn’t happened yet unfortunetly

    Josh-man I was in ohr-samayach in 2001 you my be thinking of my twin brother he was there in 99

  • dear Elon,

    I believe you and I hear what you are saying. What do you suggest doing? I should say, how do you plan on dealing with the reality you are talking about?

  • dear me,

    Another tough situation… When it comes to the
    issue of how to handle the issue of Cohenim and
    thier dating mushagass… remember it is
    mushagass by definition and almost every aspect
    of dating is that. In other words, its another
    mushagass that is making an already damned
    situation more damned. A bait din is just out there to issue a simple decision, not necessarily out there to solve your problems. I bet there are
    people out there who can investigate the situation
    and dig up who is who and settle this issue. That
    is if you care enough to settle it and it or it is
    important enough to you to solve this and get on
    with youre life. I don’t know what is in youre head. Maybe this is just another kvetch to rally against somebody or something, which we have seen alot here. What I really would like to emphasize is that I have seen people do research and solve thier questions of this line down to 6th and even 7th generation to the satisfaction of the most strict Orthodox shebe Orthodox Bait Din.

  • wine- guy, I’m talking Jerusalem…if your bro was there send him regards from Josh, his summer roommate from long ago…

  • Luckily I don’t have to worry about it anymore – met and married a non-cohen (not for that sole reason though!). But it is always something I wondered about, and as for tracing back the records, apparantly that was the problem because the 3rd and 4th generations’ documents had been destroyed in the 1800s.
    I have heard though of kohanim giving up their kehunah. Is that actually possible?!

  • A Kohen can’t really give up his Kehuna,…he can however marry a divorcee, or a non-jew and then his kids will be Halallim (forever tainted and stripped of the Kehuna)… what a terrible thing to do to one’s kids 😉

  • NSN- I’ll deal with it 🙂 I will do as much learning as possible, and i will live on, as a Jew with the reality that the orthodox will never accept my conversion…

  • I think to deal with the issue of a Kohen who “marries” someone he isn’t supposed to in a Jewish legal way it is important to understand the concept of “Le-chat-chilla;” English is a crappy translitterator of hebrew, pardon me. “Le-chat-chilla” means “from the first place” or “from the beginning” I would think that there is no “le-chat-chilla” marriage for a Kohen with a convert, divorcee or “zonah.” I know what happens to Kohanim who do have live in girlfriends or common law married wives that are Jewish legalwise forbidden. When a such a kohen goes into the Bait Hakanneset, they don’t give him an alliya and they, hopefully descreetley, are asked to leave the room or the area when another kohen takes the aliya and does birchat Hakohanim. However, such a kohen is counted a minyan.

  • I am thinking about it… I don’t think they ask the Kohen to leave. I know they don’t give him an aliya. I do know that once the Kohen doesn’t live anymore or is somehow divorced with the forbidden woman he resumes his kohen status and could get aliya and do birchat hakohanim.

  • Bottom line is that giving up the kehuna is not really possible. Guys could give up a certain level of functioning status is what the situation sounds like. I don’t know if even know if that translates right.

  • Interesting stuff Netsach. Thanks. I’m just thankful it didn’t end up being an issue.
    I did use it as an excuse once to break up with a kohen though 😉

  • smorfadox shebe dorkadox aint no way to keep some of that Kehuna stuff from getting stinky shebe stinky, the reek of the week. Sometimes there is no nice way of putting things that deal with things that are not nice.

  • Josh man are you the guy who spray painted those signs we took to that protest in 2001

  • maybe a moot point… i’m pretty sure, according to the rambam, and i think even the shulchan aruch, a conversion done by someone we don’t nessesarily trust, is still bidieved kosher. it also is true if someone claims to have converted, but can claim no proof. So, only those who don’t hold that way are un-orthodox.

  • yoseph crack- when you say “conversion done by someone we don’t necessarily trust” you need to specify what kind of conversion is performed by the dubious person (it’s not that we don’t trust the process, it’s the person performing the conversion who’s untrusted, this is however given that he says he adheres to all rules and regulations)… Also, when you say that we believe the person who claims to be converted to be converted, that is only when the conversion he/she claims to have undergone is accepted. You are mixing up the legitimacy of the process with the legitimacy of the person performing the process.

  • It’s ridiculous. As if there aren’t enough problems by the Orthodox. The Conservative conversion is fine. When Orthodox Rabbi’s want to bend the rules, that is fine, because they are who they are. When Conservatives do something a little bit differently, then the whole thing is no good. As a member of the Orthodox community, at least for the moment, I must tell you, the hypocracy is stupifying. Let us at least not perpetuate it.

  • 🙂
    The bottom line is that the conservative deny Sinai.
    Thats the difference. Period.

  • Joe, you should read carefully what I posted in the Conservative thread, you obviously have some learnin’ to do.

  • Orthodox stayed the same, and Conservative and Reform made the changes.

    This is one of the most funny, and yet most telling and sad statements I’ve read. To deny the history of change over time in religious Judaism – traditional Judaism, real Judaism – is to be completely ignorant of Jewish history. From exactly which period in time do you believe Orthodoxy has stayed the same, and why do you believe that one period is the end all, be all period from which we measure all else? Jewish law has been a system in motion from Day One. The ink wasn’t dry on the classic texts before the commentators were explaining and spinning their views on them.

    BTW, could someone please show me the section of Gemara that states that a conversion is not kosher if the beit din has a “Conservative” rabbi on it? Exactly how, except for political silliness, is a conversion that includes brit, mikveh, and beit din (explain to potential convert that they are insane for wanting to join such a self-hating, neurotic bunch of blog whiners, tell ‘me a few big and small laws and the penalties, some of which by the way we haven’t enforced for over a thousand years) not kosher? Isn’t it entirely possible for a rabbi to be “kosher” and not affiliated with the political “Orthodox” movement? Only in recent times has the “Orthodox” brand label been perceived by some as so clearly defined; there are plenty of old and new (UTJ) “traditional” shuls that skirt the line between the Orthodoxy and Conservative movements.

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