Researching how contemporary Jews think and feel about the Conservative Movement, I’ve found a lot of articles and blog posts about how and why Conservative Judaism is doomed, dying, or already dead.
Among internet writers and my own acquaintances, I can see the trend of people in the middle of the halakhic observance spectrum fleeing for the extremes; people who want greater spiritual support and guidance are drawn to the richer offerings of observance and study in the Orthodox community, and people who feel rejected by their synangogue’s standards of who you can marry and what can be served at the wedding turn to the individual halakhic autonomy supported by the Reform community.
The cases in favor of personal and collective moves to the left or right are numerous enough and occasionally persuasive enough to make me wonder what in Gehenna I’m doing applying to rabbinical school within the Conservative movement.
Short answer: I like the Conservative Movement. I’m biased, to be sure, by my limited exposure to other movements and likewise prejudiced, consciously or otherwise, by comments I’ve heard about the other movements. But to avoid the usual CM trap of defining the movement by declaring who or what it is not, I’m going to tell a few things about the Conservative Movement that I like.
For the sake of getting this post up and getting this conversation going, I’m going to start with one thing today, and add new things as they occur to me; however, I encourage you to chime in via comment at any time with things that you like about the Conservative Movement.
First thing: Support for learning about the mitzvot.
Because the CM regards the mitzvot as binding upon all Jews, it strives to serve as a resource for those who want to increase their understanding and fulfillment of the mitzvot. For example, in a typical Conservative shul, while not everyone puts on tefillin to pray weekday mornings, there will often be a minyan on weekday mornings, and someone there will be able to show you how to put on the tefillin.
What would you add to the list?