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Why I Am A Conservative Jew: A Response to Danny Gordis

Liberal religion is having a hard time these days. Mainstream Protestant Christianity is a graying movement with significant numbers of its churches closing. Pope Francis expressed his fears that in emphasizing issues of social justice the Catholic Church not suffer the same fate as these Protestant churches have. The daughters of Muslim women who gloried in uncovering their hair are succeeded by their daughters who insist on headdresses. In all three, the “fundamentalist” wings of these churches seem to be robust and, at least among Protestants and Muslims, ascendant.

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Hope in this Season

From the beginning of the month of Elul until the end of Succot, we recite Psalm 27. Why this Psalm? It doesn't speak at all of sin and repentance -- a common liturgical theme of the High Holidays. Instead as we enter the new year, the psalm speaks of hope. Read more at The Jewish WeekRead More 
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The Joys and Travails of Translation

Translating can be a dangerous business. The great English translator of the Bible, William Tyndale, whose work formed the basis for the King James Version, was martyred in 1534 during the reign of King Henry VIII. Tyndale was responsible for some lovely innovations in language such as ‘lovingkindness’ for the Hebrew hesed -- a trait clearly not exercised by his detractors. Today’s critics of translation may be less violent but no less passionate about what they consider right or wrong about translations.

Continue reading at: The Rabbinical Assembly
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Revisiting Patrilineal Descent and Conversion

The question of patrilineal descent is not only one of recognizing a sociological change in our time – Jews and non-Jews are marrying each other at an increasing rate — but is a profound theological transformation of our understanding of what it means to be a Jew. For many people, it is no longer the communitythat defines who is Jewish. Rather, individual families decide whether their children are Jewish. In many liberal circles, there are no objective criteria for the designation other than what individuals wish to call themselves or their children. Jewishness becomes a matter of individual choice rather than a status acquired at birth or taken on through study and conversion.

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Keeping Kosher Today

From "What We Eat: Looking at Kashrut Through a Conservative Lens":

We need an American Jewish approach to our traditional food laws that also takes into account the circumstances of Jews in an open democratic society. We engage with society at large over drinks, at dinner, at parties, in restaurants, and at home. We Conservative Jews need not separate ourselves from life by eating only in establishments under rabbinic supervision. Rather, we can participate in the larger culture while maintaining our distinctive Jewish consciousness. Thus, entering a restaurant and checking which items conform to kashrut – what we may order within a broad reading of the law – is a way of integrating into society while maintaining our particular religious consciousness.

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