Vol. 9 No. 1 WINTER 2007
KEEP IN MIND
TZOHAR BILOXI 2007 February 18 – February 21 Biloxi, Mississippi
KOACH KALLAH February 22 - February 25, 2007 The University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
SULAM 30 March 8 - March 11, 2007 Hilton Hotel Newark, New Jersey
SULAM 31 March 15 - March 18, 2007 Delta Hotel Toronto, Ontario
HAZAK RETREAT June 13 – June 20 Block and Hexter Adult Center Ponyntelle, Pennsylvania
ADVOCACY DAY June 19 – June 20 Washington DC
IN THIS ISSUE 2
AROUND THE UNITED SYNAGOGUE
NEWS FROM OUR DEPARTMENTS
SPOTLIGHT ON REGIONAL CONVENTIONS
FROM THE EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
RESOURCES FOR GROWING YOUR CONGREGATION A project of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
THE NEXT STEP
FROM THE PRESIDENT
I am a PROUD Conservative Jew!
My pride reflects the intellectual and halachic integrity of our movement. I am proud that our movement struggled with halachic questions and came up with answers. Our halacha has changed, our tent now has a slightly different shape, but it is still one tent. We must take pride in the pluralism that allows our kehillot to express their communities’ values in their own way within the shelter of that tent.
Now the work really begins. Each kehillah must now begin the process of education, investigation, and introspec- t i o n . A n d t h i s R a y m o n d B . G o l d s t e i n , P h . D .
too will be a struggle.
I was fortunate to be a witness, and in a small way a participant, in the struggles of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards on December 5 and 6. My esteem has grown for the 25 voting members of the commit- tee and its six non-voting members – five of whom represent United Synagogue and one the Cantors’ Assembly. We all should be proud of our lay representatives, Marc Gary, Roz Judd, Frank Kreutzer, Mark Rotenberg and Dr. Marilyn Wind, Although they could not vote, they helped to shape the Law Committee’s decisions. United Synagogue also appointed five of the 25 rabbis who serve on the committee.
All 25 rabbis struggled with their votes. The discussions were passionate but always respectful, and at the highest level of intellectual and halachic debate.
During the week of the deliberation we read parashat Vayishlach. We learned about Jacob’s struggle with a heavenly being and how at the end of the struggle Jacob’s name was changed to Yisrael, he who struggled with God. And we learned that Jacob’s character was transformed during that struggle.
During the same week that the Law Committee struggled with the question of the status of gay men and lesbians in the Conservative movement, our movement also was transformed. We are a movement that prides itself on the struggle between tradition and change. For us, the struggle is as important as the conclusions.
On December 12, I watched with pride as the rabbis of my community, the Twin Cities in Minnesota, began that struggle. The rabbis of the area’s five United Synagogue congregations brought Conservative Jews together to teach, to explain, and to listen. The program explained what it means to be pluralistic and how that struggle is not unique to our time. The rabbis said that the work of the Law Committee, as that body discussed five teshuvot and passed three of them, is an example of pluralism at work. The rab- bis listened respectfully as the audience asked thought-provoking questions, and they answered thoughtfully. It was the Conservative movement at its best.
This meeting in the Twin Cities was a beginning for them. It must be followed by conversations in individual congregations. Now is the time to engage and teach Conservative Jews about our halachic process and our struggle to make halacha meaningful in our lives. Individual congre- gations will have to struggle with tensions that may result no matter which teshuva they choose to follow. Kehillot should con- sider the implications that each decision might present for congregational policy and planning. The staff of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism stands ready to assist in this process.
I am proud to be a Conservative Jew. I hope you are too.
Raymond B. Goldstein, Ph.D.