Why I left the conservative movement

The synagogue which I grew up in recently voted to allow ‘commitment ceremonies’ between gay couples. I would like to say I am disappointed or at least surprised, but the truth is, at this point, I am not. The question I keep hearing and tend to agree with is, ‘where do you draw the line in the sand?’ In the Conservative Movement the line has continuously been moving further and further away from what Judaism truly is. From driving and playing instruments on Shabbat to ordaining women rabbis, it seems the movement is drifting away from Torah and tradition. At this rate the line is not too far from performing intermarriages, accepting patrilineal descent, and ultimately denouncing Kashrut laws of any kind.

The main reason why I could not associate myself with the Conservative Movement anymore was because of the overlying hypocrisy that the movement stands on by making all these changes. Conservative Judaism has allowed many things that go against Torah prior to gay marriage. It is just so hypocritical that they use justification to try to give reason for why they really allow things that are clearly forbidden in the Torah and by Jewish law. What I have learned over the last few years is that people can justify almost anything they want to. A person can justify their political beliefs with feel good stories or evidence supporting their claim. The Conservative Movement is doing just this by somehow finding loopholes in Halachah every time there is an issue or ruling they want to change or modify.

The question I have is if you can find reasoning to change all of these laws and rulings, are there not valid arguments one can make to amend every mitzvah and law in Judaism? Ten years ago the movement would have said gay marriage is not permitted according to the Torah, yet shortly afterwards somewhere they find justifications and rulings supporting it. Well, I will not be surprised if ten years from now they can find a justification to support being able to eat non-kosher animals.

If the Torah keeps being edited and modified, why is it the Jewish guide they are using to teach their congregants? For example, if a history teacher kept finding problems within a textbook, such as stories and narratives they believe to be false, would they use that textbook to teach their class? Probably not. And if the Conservative Movement is finding problem after problem within the Torah I do not understand why it is still the book they believe is holy. And if they truly believe in the Torah, how can you believe that some of it has faults and is wrong while other parts are good and should be followed? It looks to me like this is a classic case of picking and choosing.

In the late Second Temple period there was a large sect of Jews called the Sadducees. Many of them were of the wealthy class and one of the key differences between them and other sects was that they rejected the Oral Law and saw the written Torah as the sole source of authority. This reminds me greatly of the Conservative Movement today. The recent PEW study showed the numbers within the movement shrinking, yet many people find it hard to believe that Conservative Judaism will fade away. It is possible that two thousand years ago people thought the same of the Sadducees, yet the sect faded away quickly after the destruction of the Second Temple. If Jews do not believe in the entirety of Torah and it’s importance in every part of it, then that group or sect of Jews is going to find it hard to survive in the long run. There is a reason why no Jew today is a descendent of any of the founders of the Reform Movement. If you denounce the mitzvots and laws the Torah puts forth, then you have taken out the very core of what Judaism is. If the Conservative Movement wants a future, its’ leaders need to realize that they cannot continue moving the line in the sand further and further away from the Torah’s teachings. That is why the movement is rapidly shrinking, and the reason I can no longer associate myself with Conservative Judaism.

About the Author
Zander Wold is a Jew from Los Angeles currently living in Haifa.
Related Topics
Related Posts