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Conservative Judaism

Conservative Judaism

By Marc Gary | Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer

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“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”
—William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”

Last week, The Jewish Theological Seminary presented an honorary degree to Philip Roth, one of the greatest American writers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. The famous author must have received this recognition from an iconic Jewish institution with a certain measure of irony and satisfaction.

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MK Dr. Ruth Calderon's JTS Commencement Address 2014

By Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik | President of Rabbinical Assembly and Rabbi at Forest Hills Jewish Center

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If I were challenged to present a one-sentence, pithy articulation of the overarching responsibility of a Jew in this world, I would be hard pressed to find abetter phrasing than the second verse of this week’s Torah reading, Parashat Kedoshim: “Kedoshim tih’yu, ki kadosh Ani Adonai Eloheikhem”(Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy).

The fundamental charge to every Jew, regardless of social standing or economic circumstance, is to sanctify both time and space. Every berakhah (blessing) that we recite serves the purpose of making an ordinary act a sacred one, from eating bread to

By Dr. Ismar Schorsch | Chancellor Emeritus of The Jewish Theological Seminary and Professor of Jewish History

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The tantalizingly fragmented book of Numbers closes with a new generation of Israelites, born and bred in the wilderness, poised to cross the Jordan from the west at Jericho. They will not be led in their invasion of Canaan by Moses – who is destined to share the fate of the generation of the Exodus, nurtured in slavery – but by Joshua.

Among the final acts of Moses, before he is to ascend Mount Nebo for one grand view of the land whose possession has been the goal of the last 40 years of his life, is one that has long stirred my imagination.

By Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz | Director of Israel Programs, The Rabbinical School, JTS

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On Motzei Shabbat, June 24, 2000, the Conservative synagogue of the Ramot neighborhood in Jerusalem, Kehillat Ya'ar Ramot, was set ablaze. According to the New York Times (Monday, June 26, 2000) this hateful act also involved the defacement of the synagogue "with grafitti that labeled it a place unworthy of worship, and said that a yeshiva–trained Jew should not be there." Numerous eyewitnesses saw "apparently religious men, wearing black velvet skullcaps and white shirts, fleeing as the flames raged." Prime Minister Ehud Barak rightly called this tragic incident "an awful act that causes

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Rabbis Abraham Joshua Heschel and Mordecai M. Kaplan were among the greatest Jewish minds of the 20th century. Remarkably, both "lived" and taught for many years at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), knew each other well, and at times shared ideas. Dr. Susannah Heschel, as the devoted student of her father's life and thought, and Dr.

By Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz | Director of Israel Programs, The Rabbinical School, JTS

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This week marks the beginning of the third book of the Torah, Vayikra, alternately referred to in Hebrew as Torat Kohanim, the 'teaching of the priests', and in Latin as Leviticus. Modern scholars and traditional commentators alike highlight the positioning of Vayikra , literally at the heart of the Five Book of Moses. Such placement of Vayikra speaks to the centrality of its teachings in the Israelite experience, especially as they pertained to the sacrificial cult practiced by the Israelites in the First and Second Temple periods.

By Rabbi Lewis Warshauer | Scholar-in-Residence at The Conservative Synagogue of Westport, CT

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The more we know about animals, the more they seem to have what we consider to be human capabilities. Beavers build dams and porpoises communicate in sophisticated ways, while apes use tools and may even reason on some level. But, human beings are the only species to make their own clothes. The wasp's nest has no garment district

Human beings wear clothes for two main, but contradictory reasons in addition to the obvious one of warmth: to cover, and to highlight. The Bible contains several examples of both these uses.

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Solomon Schechter, ca. 1902. Photographer: Saville, Southport, England. [P3443]

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