Conservative Judaism

Another Topic of Conversation

We have quickly become consumed by concern for coronavirus, COVID-19.  Store shelves have been emptied of hand sanitizers and bleach wipes.  I have heard of confrontations over face masks.  Some public spaces are closing or limiting access.  The best advice has been to wash your hands and pay attention to the CDC and Maryland Dept of Health web sites which are both linked here.

At Beth El, we have been proactive in planning contingencies for however events unfold.  Let me remind you about the ability to participate in services via live streaming on our website.  Click here to watch Shabbat morning services. Our congregational theme of Shmirat HaGuf, Caring for our Bodies, has taken on new dimensions.

As we continue to pay close attention to these events, let’s also occupy our time thinking about others things too – Israeli elections.

Not the Knesset elections but the World Zionist Congress (WZC) elections.

Continue reading →

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“Soul-Searching After a Rabbi Was Detained in Israel” by Rabbi Daniel Gordis

This week is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders drawn from throughout the Jewish world. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter. 

I have spoken many times about the intertwined and complicated relationship American Jews have with Israel.  As Conservative Jews, it is no less so.  Conservative and Reform expressions of Judaism are not officially sanctioned in Israel and non-Orthodox rituals are recognized but not given official legal status.  As we continue to focus on Israel throughout the year, we will explore the internal struggles of Israel’s Jewish and national identities.  Rabbi Daniel Gordis, ordained a Conservative rabbi, is senior vice president and Koret distinguished fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem. Author of 11 books, his latest is “Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn.”  — Rabbi Harris


Soul-Searching After a Rabbi Was Detained in Israel:

Is this the sort of nation Israelis want?

Rabbi Daniel Gordis

July 23, 2018 in Bloomberg

Almost a decade ago, shortly before their wedding, my daughter and her fiancé decided that the ceremony would not be performed by a rabbi associated with Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. Both religiously observant, they found the Chief Rabbinate’s attitude to women and to non-Orthodox streams of Judaism reprehensible; they were determined to use the occasion of their wedding, at which numerous politically and socially prominent Israelis would be present, to make that point.

They asked me to perform the wedding. As a Conservative rabbi ordained in the U.S. (and thus not recognized by the Israeli Rabbinate), I technically violated Israel’s 1953 Marriage and Divorce Law. This can be punished with a two-year prison sentence. We made the occasional quip about my getting arrested for performing my own daughter’s wedding, but we were never worried. Many rabbis had done this before, and none had ever been arrested. Continue reading →

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