The Conservative Movement in America began with the creation of a rabbinical school in 1886 with an enrollment of ten students. That school, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, was just the beginning. Since then, it has flourished to include seminaries on the east and west coasts of the United States, Israel, and Argentina; professional organizations representing lay and clergy; organizations for men and women; a synagogue arm representing almost 800 congregations in North America; schools, institutions, and congregations in Israel, Europe, Latin America, the FSU, Australia, Africa, and Asia; synagogue schools and day schools; youth programs; college outreach; and summer camps.
At Temple Beth-El, we wholeheartedly agree with the description of the Conservative Movement as found at the website http://conservativejudaism.org:
“The Conservative Movement represents the passionate and engaged center of the Jewish people. At home in both tradition and modernity, Conservative Judaism strives in everything to express and communicate a deep commitment to the values, concepts, and rituals of our tradition. It is equally committed to the values of individual conscience, democracy, equal rights and protection for all humanity, and other hallmarks of Western culture to enrich and deepen our lives as practicing Jews.
That tradition not only belongs in the synagogue and the home, but in business or the public marketplace of ideas. Conservative Judaism seeks to integrate the best of tradition with the best of modernity. Conservative Judaism does this because we believe that integrating the Jewish tradition with our own contemporary culture is the best way to create a vibrant and meaningful form of Judaism for ourselves and our descendants.
Conservative Judaism meets these challenges through its institutions – synagogues, schools on all levels, camps, and its local, regional, and national organizational structures – and through the many religious, educational, social, social action, and Zionist activities these institutions foster.
Through these organizations and activities it seeks to enable multiple points of entry to every Jew on all levels of Judaism – spiritual, rational, familial, communal, cultural, aesthetic, interfaith, political, Zionist, and in many other ways across the life span… In doing so, it espouses a sincere pluralism, with understanding and appreciation for the multiple ways that Jews express their Jewish commitments and contribute to the Jewish community and civilization.”