Friday, October 24, 2008

The Problem with Conservative Jewry

I got an email today from someone who works at a local Conservative synagogue. She asked if I could recommend a speaker for their Sisterhood Shabbat. Their theme is Jewish continuity, they have almost no money to pay someone, and they want someone to speak about population decline in addition to the practical side of what to do at home with your children/grandchildren to keep Judaism going.

Really?! This is their topic?! I recommended that they invite someone from It was a serious recommendation. To me, this whole topic, addressed at a Sisterhood Shabbat is preaching to the choir. Are there really that many things that an "outsider" can tell them that will teach them how to keep Judaism going with their children?

And what does it even mean - to keep Judaism going? Does that mean they have to marry someone Jewish? Go to services every Shabbat? Keep kosher? Is it ok if they just wear a Jewish star around their neck?

If they'd asked me, I would have suggested they find someone to speak about what the Jewish world will be like 10 or 20 years from now when their children are older. How have things changed and what direction are they headed? What will the next Heeb magazine be? Who will be the next Matisyahu?

And what's the point of talking about a population decline? There are far fewer Jains in the world than there are Jews and they've been around almost as long (if not longer).

I probably shouldn't pick on the Conservative Jews. I imagine these same subjects are bandied about in all sorts of congregations in all sorts of denominations. They just aren't asking me for recommendations....

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