Submitted by Rabbi Leonard Gordon


Even as Judaism has always changed in response to a changing world, Judaism has also retained its distinctiveness. Today religion is broadly seen as offering a path to certainty in a world of relativism and moral confusion. “The path,” “the way,” “torah-true.” But, as JTS Professor David Kraemer points out in his book The Mind of the Talmud: An Intellectual History of the Bavli, our core text, the Babylonian Talmud, “embodies the recognition that truth, divine in origin, is on the human level indeterminable. (In the end) we have no direct access to ultimate authority” (7). Our Judaism begins with the observation that we are engaged in a multi-generational quest to reveal ever-changing responses to the core questions of religious life, theologically and practically. Our unshakable commitment to halakhah (Judaism’s “way of walking”) is about how we answer pressing questions (process) and not about a commitment to specific rules (content). So, while Conservative Jews may practice Judaism differently in Los Angeles, Toronto, Mexico City and Kfar Saba, and while our practice may differ from that of our grandparents in Lvov or Baghdad, we are all united across time and space, in how we discuss and resolve questions: we look to precedent and we apply shared principles that govern change. In this way, Conservative Judaism stands out among other denominations. Our Judaism is authentic and dynamic.

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