What About Halacha?


I am in agreement with Chancellor Eisen and I also treasure what the institutions of the Conservative movement have done for my family and me (“Lets Drink A L’Chaim To Conservative Judaism,” Opinion, Nov. 29).

Our growth as Jews has immensely benefited from the leadership and teaching of Conservative rabbis, the support of Conservative congregations, years at Camp Ramah and the Jewish Theological Seminary. However, what happened to an explicit reference to halacha and its presumed centrality for Conservative Judaism in the chancellor’s comments?

In his classic work “A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice,” which for many of us also helped define our (Conservative) Judaism, Rabbi Isaac Klein of blessed memory wrote as his first statement: “Judaism rises and falls in accordance with the degree to which halacha permeates and penetrates the life of the Jewish people.”

Clearly many of the best and the brightest products of the Conservative movement, trying to apply what they learned through the institutions of Conservative Judaism, have been struggling with finding their place in organized Jewish movements and some, too many in my opinion, are opting out of the Conservative movement. This is of more concern than the numbers in the Pew report.