The Conservative Movement in Judaism
Dilemmas and Opportunities
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Illustrates how the American Conservative Movement in Judaism can continue to prosper amidst ideological and institutional challenges.
Viewing the Conservative Movement at a turning point, this book analyzes the problems facing the religious movement with the largest synagogue membership in the American Jewish community and outlines a plan of action for the future. Elazar and Geffen suggest: clarifying ideology, mission, and purpose, finding the right balance between traditionalists and advocates of change, unifying movement institutions in a cooperative effort, staunching the decline of membership to the left, recapturing the loyalty of lapsed adherents, closing the gap in observance between the laity and the standard bearers of the movement, developing the Movement in Israel and world-wide, and strengthening ties with Jewish federations and other Jewish communal bodies. The authors propose that the Conservative Movement's remedying of these problems will benefit not just American, but all world Jewry.
Daniel J. Elazar was the President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Professor Emeritus of Intergovernmental Relations at Bar-Ilan University. He was the author and editor of more than seventy books, including, with coauthor Harold M. Waller, the National Jewish Book Award Winner Maintaining Consensus: The Canadian Jewish Polity in the Postwar World. Rela Mintz Geffen is Professor of Sociology at Gratz College. She is the editor of several books including Celebration and Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism, and with Marsha Bryan Edelman, Freedom and Responsibility: Exploring the Dilemmas of Jewish Continuity.
"This account of the present and prospects on Conservative Judaism realizes the promise of the social study of a religion. It is informed, critical, enlightening, factual and well-grounded, and it goes right to the heart of matters. I cannot imagine a better study of the politics and sociology of a contemporary religious movement." — Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies
"…thoughtful criticisms and proposals for change …" — South Florida Jewish Journal
"It is informed, critical, enlightening, factual and well-grounded, and it goes right to the heart of matters. I cannot imagine a better study of the politics and sociology of a contemporary religious movement. An implicit philosophy of the social order permeates the book. Conservative Judaism emerges in the authors' presentation as a 'Movement,' by which they mean, an organization of Judaism.Elazar and Geffen have written the single best book on Conservative Judaism since Marshall Sklare's Conservative Judaism (1955) exposed a religious movement for what it was, a phase in the sociology of an ethnic group." ― The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies
"This book should be a welcome addition to every Jewish household. In addition to the detailed discussion of the Conservative Movement, the authors provide an in-depth analysis of current American Jewish identities." — Nitza Druyan, Hofstra University
"Elazar and Geffen's volume is much needed in Jewish life today. Interpreting the Conservative movement through the lens of political science and sociology, the work advocates bold decisions, new institutional frameworks, and holistic strategies. It offers world Jewry competitive alternatives to Reform and Orthodox Judaism and develops strategies for those looking for tradition, and especially reaches out to the Israeli Sephardic population. The authors challenge Conservative members to reconceptualize the Movement's foundation and to entertain changing the Movement's name from Conservative to Masorti." —Henry Green, University of Miami