Conservative shuls eye exit from umbrella

Two Conservative Canadian synagogues are moving ahead with plans to break with the movement’s synagogue umbrella organization.

The board of Adath Israel, a century-old congregation in Toronto, voted “overwhelmingly” last week to leave the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Canadian Jewish News reported.

At Beth Tikvah, also in Toronto, the board of governors recommended severing ties to United Synagogue on June 30, when its membership term expires.

The United Conservative “no longer represents what and who we are,” said Rabbi Steven Saltzman of Adath Israel.

Canadian Conservative synagogues are generally more traditional than their American counterparts, and the 2006 decision by the movement’s law committee to permit the ordination of gay clergy set off speculation that the Canadians would secede from United Synagogue.

But movement leaders in Canada say the issue is one of return on membership dues as much as any ideological divide that has led many synagogues to consider secession.

“For some years the congregations in Montreal felt that they were getting little for the annual fees they pay to USCJ, and the issue of ordaining homosexuals brought to a head this long simmering discontent,” said Rabbi Alan Bright of Shaare Zedek in Montreal, which has voted on the issue. Bright would not disclose the decision.

Beth Tzedec, another congregation in Toronto, also is considering secession.

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