Thursday, March 23, 2006

Outgoing JTS Chancellor puts himself on the side of halachah

Bashing the Conservative movement is pretty easy for Orthodox bloggers to do, particularly as the movement loses members and becomes less and less committed to the principles of Rabbinic Judaism. (Admittedly, the majority or Orthodox rabbis and laypeople probably would agree that the Conservative movement dropped adherance to those principles a long time ago.) But Dr. Ismar Schorsch, the current Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America who is retiring soon, made a strong appeal for traditional Judaism last weekend:

Interestingly, on the Shabat immediately preceding, he attended an Orthodox synagogue and spoke on the occasion of the bar mitzvah of his grandson (whose family lives a few blocks from me, attends at least two Orthodox minyanim that I attend, and has hosted me for Shabat meals):

I saw Dr. Schorsch there Friday night, but attended a different shul on Saturday morning, so unfortunately I don't know what he had to say.


Anonymous jdub said...


You should be clear that he is not putting himself on the side of halacha. he is putting himself on the side of halacha, as understood by the Conservative movement, which permits driving on shabbos to shul, women counting as part of a minyan, ordination of women, and a host of other "halachic" changes brought about by modernity.

Yes, it's interesting that he's plugging for traditionalism, but he's not really plugging for halacha as Orthodox jews understand it. The fact that his kids go to an Ortho shul is largely irrelevent. 1/2 the people I know whose fathers were conservo rabbis go to Orthodox shuls now.

I like Schorsch. I'm a grad of JTS, and he was always a very nice man who was extremely comforting after a family tragedy. But don't make more of his speech/interview than there is. He rejects traditional halacha as much as he rejects the liberal side of Conservative Judaism.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'he is putting himself on the side of halacha, as understood by the Conservative movement'

Well put; I should have made that clear in the title.

9:42 AM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

I am sure that if I sat down and got into the nitty gritty with Dr. Schor, that our differences would be huge.

That being said, I am a huge admirer of his. His advocacy and dream for Jewish Day School is unmatched and his courage to stand up and make his (unpopular) views unknown to his own movement is admirable.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SephardiLady, I think he's not afraid to say what he does because more and more he feels like the rug's been pulled out from under him. I don't know if it's bravery to be shouting - it's more like anger! (Hsving attended a Conservative high school, I can tell you that what's taught there nowadays hardly resembles what they once taught - and I don't mean that in a good way)

2:00 PM  
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