Conservative Jews Hit the Hill


Even as leaders of a troubled Conservative movement try to fend off an incipient rebellion by some synagogues and deal with declining affiliation, they are accelerating their efforts to create an active, visible — but cautious — Washington presence.

The Rabbinical Assembly recently announced that Rabbi Jack Moline, spiritual leader of a synagogue in suburban Washington and a longstanding advocate of a more robust political presence for the movement, will head a new Washington Public Policy Office. It will be something less than a full-fledged lobbying operation — at least for now.

Also, the RA has created a new Israel Advocacy Office and put another Washington area religious leader — Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in suburban Potomac, Md. — in
Values To Heal America

“I am still the full-time rabbi of my congregation,” Rabbi Moline told the Jewish Week. “This is a role I am taking on to establish the position and the precedent, in the hope it will get enough attention to eventually result in something that is the Conservative movement’s iteration of a full-time Washington office."
Will the RA’s new Washington operation be another liberal outpost?

“We do not expect to simply be an echo for positions other groups have taken,” Rabbi Moline said.
But his personal history suggests he will be aligned with the Reform movement on some key issues; he recently completed a term as board chairman of the Interfaith Alliance, an outspoken church-state separation group.

While the RA has opened some bridgeheads in Washington, it has a long way to go to match the presence of the Reform movement, whose RAC is a major hub of liberal activism — or the Orthodox Union, whose public policy director, Nathan Diament, has earned a reputation as a prolific commentator and op-ed writer in the religious world.