When Ashkenazi Jews Eat Kitniyot on Passover, Is It Cultural …

How do millions of Ashkenazi Jews react when, after hundreds of years, they finally get permission to eat kitniyot on Passover?

Were about to find out.

Last December, the Conservative movements Committee on Jewish Law and Standards approved a teshuvah , a Jewish legal ruling, permitting the consumption of kitniyot on Passover. Kitniyot foods like rice, corn, lentils and beans, which are not technically hametz have long been forbidden to Ashkenazi Jews, but theyre staples of the Sephardic Passover diet. This year marks the first time that many American Jews will learn to include these foods at their holiday table.

My Ashkenazi friends, I have tasted your Passover foods of bitterness. I know you have suffered many years enslaved to a diet of matzo brei with cinnamon and sugar. As a college student, I went back to school after the Seder with Tupperware containers filled with rice and beans so that I wouldnt starve in a pluralistic Hillel that catered to Ashkenazi customs and palates. I am happy that more American Jews will soon be enjoying kitniyot on Passover. For one thing, that makes it more likely that a wider variety of Passover products will be available for my family in my local grocery store.

But after reading the teshuvah , I also have some concerns. Part of my worry stems from the approach with which the Sephardic dietary laws are being adopted: a mix of cultural appropriation and noblesse oblige . Borrowing from the practices of your neighbors is natural; no religious tradition exists in a vacuum. But borrowing has ethical overtones, especially when youre not attuned to whos borrowing from whom and to the relationships of power between those groups. While the Conservative movement in Israel permits Ashkenazi Jews to eat kitniyot partly in order to facilitate positive relationships between Jews of different ethnic backgrounds, that line of argumentation is absent from the American teshuvah.

The heritage of Sephardic Jews does not exist just to make the Passover practices of our Ashkenazi neighbors less burdensome and expensive, and more delicious and nutritious. Kitniyot on Passover is not just food, its foodways . That is, the eating of kitniyot is one piece of a large and diverse culture, spanning centuries and continents, and embedded in history, memory, language, stories and other social practices.

Thats why I think the adoption of Sephardic traditions for Passover food should include some acknowledgement of actual Sephardic tradition. Perhaps any Ashkenazi Jew wishing to eat kitniyot on Passover should have to pass a basic Sephardic cultural literacy test? While Israeli Jews see the vitality of other ethnic Jewish communities every day, in the United States the experiences of Sephardic Jews are rarely taught or even acknowledged, and Jewish is almost always synonymous with Ashkenazi.

Obviously, an actual test would be impractical and silly. But I dont think its silly for Ashkenazi Jews to respectfully try to learn from living American Sephardic Jews how they determine the permissibility of kitniyot on Passover.

In tracing the permissibility of kitniyot , the authors of the CJLS ruling took into account both classical sources and the perspectives of contemporary Ashkenazi Jews who seek a joyful, affordable and kosher holiday. But as far as I can see, there is no account of the local practices of Sephardic American Jews and how they approach eating kitniyot . Its as though Sephardic experience, expertise and life ends in the 16th century with Joseph Caro and the codification of his major legal work, the Shulchan Aruch.

The CJLS released some basic guidelines in order to help members determine which foods are permitted. Of course, Sephardic Conservative Jews have been eating these foods for decades without any guidance from our rabbinate. Weve relied on lists published by Orthodox Sephardic organizations in order to have a kasher vsameach holiday, a kosher and happy Passover.

For now, lets put aside the question of why the Conservative movement in the United States never attended to the needs of Sephardic Conservative Jews and only became interested in the kashrut of kitniyot once it was permissible for Ashkenazim. Instead, let me give an example of the practical perspective I can offer as a result of having kept abreast of the guidelines of Orthodox Sephardic communities.

An important consideration involving the consumption of rice on Passover in the United States is that not all kinds of rice are kosher for all kinds of Sephardic Jews. (And by the way, some Sephardic Jews dont eat rice at all during the holiday.) In order to be considered kosher for Passover by most Sephardic Jews here, rice must not contain additives that may bear hametz. Brown rice is generally fine, but white rice is trickier as it is often enriched with additives, including wheat starch. The CJLS guidelines treat rice as though it is an unprocessed food, but for much of the rice on the shelves in American stores that is not true. To be kosher for Passover for many Sephardic Jews in this country, white rice without special Passover certification should be unprocessed and unenriched.

I am not a rabbi or kashrut scholar. But my point is that its valuable to learn about how Sephardic tradition continued to evolve and play out in the world inhabited by contemporary Sephardim. It seems that the authors of the CJLS guidelines, while purporting to follow the example set by Sephardic tradition, did not think to do that.

Finally, its worth mentioning that some Ashkenazi Jews might not want to eat kitniyot on Passover. They have their own rich cultural heritage, one that has been sustained for hundreds of years, and they may wish to continue the traditional practices of their ancestors. But if Ashkenazi Jews do wish to avail themselves of kitniyot , maybe they can seek to acknowledge the larger culture out of which these foodways emerged. Even better, they can appreciate the legal, artistic and philosophical not just culinary contributions of Sephardic Jewry to Jewish culture and to its ongoing vitality.

Otherwise, my Ashkenazi friends, the rice and lentils youre cooking smell a little like cultural appropriation.

Arielle Levites is a doctoral candidate in education and Jewish studies at New York University, and an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship.

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When Ashkenazi Jews Eat Kitniyot on Passover, Is It Cultural …

The Jewish Declaration of War on Nazi Germany: The …

The Economic Boycott of 1933

Article from The Barnes Review, Jan./Feb. 2001, pp. 41-45. The Barnes Review, 645 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Suite 100, Washington D.C. 20003, USA. By M. Raphael Johnson, Ph.D., assistant editor of TBR; published here with kind permission from TBR. This digitized version 2002 by The Scriptorium.

The war by the international Jewish leadership on Germany not only sparked definite reprisals by the German government but also set the stage for a little-known economic and political alliance between the Hitler government and the leaders of the Zionist movement who hoped that the tension between the Germans and the Jews would lead to massive emigration to Palestine. In short, the result was a tactical alliance between the Nazis and the founders of the modern-day state of Israel – a fact that many today would prefer be forgotten.

To this day, it is generally (although incorrectly) believed that when Adolf Hitler was appointed German chancellor in January of 1933, the German government began policies to suppress the Jews of Germany, including rounding up of Jews and putting them in concentration camps and launching campaigns of terror and violence against the domestic Jewish population.

While there were sporadic eruptions of violence against Jews in Germany after Hitler came to power, this was not officially sanctioned or encouraged. And the truth is that anti-Jewish sentiments in Germany (or elsewhere in Europe) were actually nothing new. As all Jewish historians attest with much fervor, anti-Semitic uprisings of various degrees had been ever-present in European history.

In any case, in early 1933, Hitler was not the undisputed leader of Germany, nor did he have full command of the armed forces. Hitler was a major figure in a coalition government, but he was far from being the government himself. That was the result of a process of consolidation which evolved later.

Even Germany’s Jewish Central Association, known as the Verein, contested the suggestion (made by some Jewish leaders outside Germany) that the new government was deliberately provoking anti-Jewish uprisings.

The Verein issued a statement that “the responsible government authorities [i.e. the Hitler regime] are unaware of the threatening situation,” saying, “we do not believe our German fellow citizens will let themselves be carried away into committing excesses against the Jews.”

Despite this, Jewish leaders in the United States and Britain determined on their own that it was necessary to launch a war against the Hitler government.

On March 12, 1933 the American Jewish Congress announced a massive protest at Madison Square Gardens for March 27. At that time the commander in chief of the Jewish War Veterans called for an American boycott of German goods. In the meantime, on March 23, 20,000 Jews protested at New York’s City Hall as rallies were staged outside the North German Lloyd and Hamburg-American shipping lines and boycotts were mounted against German goods throughout shops and businesses in New York City.

According to The Daily Express of London of March 24, 1933, the Jews had already launched their boycott against Germany and her elected government. The headline read “Judea Declares War on Germany – Jews of All the World Unite – Boycott of German Goods – Mass Demonstrations.” The article described a forthcoming “holy war” and went on to implore Jews everywhere to boycott German goods and engage in mass demonstrations against German economic interests. According to the Express:

The whole of Israel throughout the world is uniting to declare an economic and financial war on Germany. The appearance of the Swastika as the symbol of the new Germany has revived the old war symbol of Judas to new life. Fourteen million Jews scattered over the entire world are tight to each other as if one man, in order to declare war against the German persecutors of their fellow believers. The Jewish wholesaler will quit his house, the banker his stock exchange, the merchant his business, and the beggar his humble hut, in order to join the holy war against Hitler’s people.

The Express said that Germany was “now confronted with an international boycott of its trade, its finances, and its industry…. In London, New York, Paris and Warsaw, Jewish businessmen are united to go on an economic crusade.”

The article said “worldwide preparations are being made to organize protest demonstrations,” and reported that “the old and reunited nation of Israel gets in formation with new and modern weapons to fight out its age old battle against its persecutors.”

This truly could be described as “the first shot fired in the Second World War.”

In a similar vein, the Jewish newspaper Natscha Retsch wrote:

The war against Germany will be waged by all Jewish communities, conferences, congresses… by every individual Jew. Thereby the war against Germany will ideologically enliven and promote our interests, which require that Germany be wholly destroyed. The danger for us Jews lies in the whole German people, in Germany as a whole as well as individually. It must be rendered harmless for all time…. In this war we Jews have to participate, and this with all the strength and might we have at our disposal.

However, note well that the Zionist Association of Germany put out a telegram on the 26th of March rejecting many of the allegations made against the National Socialists as “propaganda,” “mendacious” and “sensational.”

In fact, the Zionist faction had every reason to ensure the permanence of National Socialist ideology in Germany. Klaus Polkehn, writing in the Journal of Palestine Studies (“The Secret Contacts: Zionism and Nazi Germany, 1933-1941″; JPS v. 3/4, spring/summer 1976), claims that the moderate attitude of the Zionists was due to their vested interest in seeing the financial victory of National Socialism to force immigration to Palestine. This little-known factor would ultimately come to play a pivotal part in the relationship between Nazi Germany and the Jews.

In the meantime, though, German Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath complained of the “vilification campaign” and said:

As concerns Jews, I can only say that their propagandists abroad are rendering their co-religionists in Germany no service by giving the German public, through their distorted and untruthful news about persecution and torture of Jews, the impression that they actually halt at nothing, not even at lies and calumny, to fight the present German government.

The fledgling Hitler government itself was clearly trying to contain the growing tension – both within Germany and without. In the United States, even U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull wired Rabbi Stephen Wise of the American Jewish Congress and urged caution:

Whereas there was for a short time considerable physical mistreatment of Jews, this phase may be considered virtually terminated…. A stabilization appears to have been reached in the field of personal mistreatment…. I feel hopeful that the situation which has caused such widespread concern throughout this country will soon revert to normal.

This New York Daily News front page headline hailed the massive anti-German protest rally held in Madison Square Garden on March 27, 1933. Despite efforts by the German government to alleviate tensions and prevent the escalation of name-calling and threats by the international Jewish leadership, the rally was held as scheduled. Similar rallies and protest marches were also being held in other cities during the same time frame. The intensity of the Jewish campaign against Germany was such that the Hitler government vowed that if the campaign did not stop, there would be a one-day boycott in Germany of Jewish-owned stores. Despite this, the hate campaign continued, forcing Germany to take defensive measures that created a situation wherein the Jews of Germany became increasingly marginalized. The truth about the Jewish war on Germany has been suppressed by most histories of the period.

It was in direct response to this that the German government announced a one-day boycott of Jewish businesses in Germany on April 1. German Propaganda Minister Dr. Joseph Goebbels announced that if, after the one-day boycott, there were no further attacks on Germany, the boycott would be stopped. Hitler himself responded to the Jewish boycott and the threats in a speech on March 28 – four days after the original Jewish declaration of war – saying:

Now that the domestic enemies of the nation have been eliminated by the Volk itself, what we have long been waiting for will not come to pass. The Communist and Marxist criminals and their Jewish-intellectual instigators, who, having made off with their capital stocks across the border in the nick of time, are now unfolding an unscrupulous, treasonous campaign of agitation against the German Volk as a whole from there…. Lies and slander of positively hair-raising perversity are being launched about Germany. Horror stories of dismembered Jewish corpses, gouged out eyes and hacked off hands are circulating for the purpose of defaming the German Volk in the world for the second time, just as they had succeeded in doing once before in 1914.

Thus, the fact – one conveniently left out of nearly all history on the subject – is that Hitler’s March 28, 1933 boycott order was in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership just four days earlier. Today, Hitler’s boycott order is described as a naked act of aggression, yet the full circumstances leading up to his order are seldom described in even the most ponderous and detailed histories of “the Holocaust”.

Not even Saul Friedlander in his otherwise comprehensive overview of German policy, Nazi Germany and the Jews, mentions the fact that the Jewish declaration of war and boycott preceded Hitler’s speech of March 28, 1933. Discerning readers would be wise to ask why Friedlander felt this item of history so irrelevant.

The simple fact is that it was organized Jewry as a political entity – and not even the German Jewish community per se – that actually initiated the first shot in the war with Germany.

Placard text: “Germans! Defend yourselves! Don’t shop at Jewish stores!” Photo not part of original TBR article – added by The Scriptorium.

To understand Hitler’s reaction to the Jewish declaration of war, it is vital to understand the critical state of the German economy at the time. In 1933, the German economy was in a shambles. Some 3 million Germans were on public assistance with a total of 6 million unemployed. Hyper-inflation had destroyed the economic vitality of the German nation. Furthermore, the anti-German propaganda pouring out of the global press strengthened the resolve of Germany’s enemies, especially the Poles and their hawkish military high command.

The Jewish leaders were not bluffing. The boycott was an act of war not solely in metaphor: it was a means, well crafted, to destroy Germany as a political, social and economic entity. The long term purpose of the Jewish boycott against Germany was to bankrupt her with respect to the reparation payments imposed on Germany after World War I and to keep Germany demilitarized and vulnerable.

The boycott, in fact, was quite crippling to Germany. Jewish scholars such as Edwin Black have reported that, in response to the boycott, German exports were cut by 10 percent, and that many were demanding seizing German assets in foreign countries (Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement – The Untold Story of the Secret Pact between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine, New York, 1984).

The attacks on Germany did not cease. The worldwide Jewish leadership became ever the more belligerent and worked itself into a frenzy. An International Jewish Boycott Conference was held in Amsterdam to coordinate the ongoing boycott campaign. It was held under the auspices of the self-styled World Jewish Economic Federation, of which famous New York City attorney and longtime political power broker, Samuel Untermyer, was elected president.

Upon returning to the United States in the wake of the conference, Untermyer delivered a speech over WABC Radio (New York), a transcript of which was printed in The New York Times on August 7, 1933.

Untermyer’s inflammatory oratory called for a “sacred war” against Germany, making the flat-out allegation that Germany was engaged in a plan to “exterminate the Jews.” He said (in part):

…Germany [has] been converted from a nation of culture into a veritable hell of cruel and savage beasts. We owe it not only to our persecuted brethren but to the entire world to now strike in self-defense a blow that will free humanity from a repetition of this incredible outrage…. Now or never must all the nations of the earth make common cause against the… slaughter, starvation and annihilation… fiendish torture, cruelty and persecution that are being inflicted day by day upon these men, women and children…. When the tale is told… the world will confront a picture so fearful in its barbarous cruelty that the hell of war and the alleged Belgian atrocities pale into insignificance as compared to this devilishly, deliberately, cold-bloodedly planned and already partially executed campaign for the extermination of a proud, gentle, loyal, law-abiding people… The Jews are the aristocrats of the world. From time immemorial they have been persecuted and have seen their persecutors come and go. They alone have survived. And so will history repeat itself, but that furnishes no reason why we should permit this reversion of a once great nation to the Dark Ages or fail to rescue these 600,000 human souls from the tortures of hell…. …What we are proposing and have already gone far toward doing, is to prosecute a purely defensive economic boycott that will undermine the Hitler regime and bring the German people to their senses by destroying their export trade on which their very existence depends. …We propose to and are organizing world opinion to express itself in the only way Germany can be made to understand….

Untermyer then proceeded to provide his listeners with a wholly fraudulent history of the circumstances of the German boycott and how it originated. He also proclaimed that the Germans were bent on a plan to “exterminate the Jews”:

The Hitler regime originated and are fiendishly prosecuting their boycott to exterminate the Jews by placarding Jewish shops, warning Germans against dealing with them, by imprisoning Jewish shopkeepers and parading them through the streets by the hundreds under guard of Nazi troops for the sole crime of being Jews, by ejecting them from the learned professions in which many of them had attained eminence, by excluding their children from the schools, their men from the labor unions, closing against them every avenue of livelihood, locking them in vile concentration camps and starving and torturing them without cause and resorting to every other conceivable form of torture, inhuman beyond conception, until suicide has become their only means of escape, and all solely because they are or their remote ancestors were Jews, and all with the avowed object of exterminating them.

Untermyer concluded his largely fantastic and hysterical address by declaring that with the support of “Christian friends… we will drive the last nail in the coffin of bigotry and fanaticism….”

The Biggest Secret of WWII? Why Germany Began Rounding Up Jews and Deporting Them to the East

However, during this same period there were some unusual developments at work: The spring of 1933 also witnessed the beginning of a period of private cooperation between the German government and the Zionist movement in Germany and Palestine (and actually worldwide) to increase the flow of German-Jewish immigrants and capital to Palestine.

The modern-day supporters of Zionist Israel and many historians have succeeded in keeping this Nazi-Zionist pact a secret to the general public for decades and while most Americans have no concept of the possibility that there could have been outright collaboration between the Nazi leadership and the founders of what became the state of Israel, the truth has begun to emerge.

Dissident Jewish writer Lenni Brennar’s Zionism In the Age of the Dictators, published by a small press and not given the publicity it deserves by the so-called “mainstream” media (which is otherwise obsessed with the Holocaust era), was perhaps the first major endeavor in this realm.

In response to Brennar and others, the Zionist reaction has usually consisted of declarations that their collaboration with Nazi Germany was undertaken solely to save the lives of Jews. But the collaboration was all the more remarkable because it took place at a time when many Jews and Jewish organizations demanded a boycott of Germany.

To the Zionist leaders, Hitler’s assumption of power held out the possibility of a flow of immigrants to Palestine. Previously, the majority of German Jews, who identified themselves as Germans, had little sympathy with the Zionist cause of promoting the ingathering of world Jewry to Palestine. But the Zionists saw that only the anti-Semitic Hitler was likely to push the anti-Zionist German Jews into the arms of Zionism.

For all the modern-day wailing by worldwide supporters of Israel (not to mention the Israelis themselves) about “the Holocaust”, they neglect to mention that making the situation in Germany as uncomfortable for the Jews as possible – in cooperation with German National Socialism – was part of the plan.

According to Jewish historian Walter Laqueur and many others, German Jews were far from convinced that immigration to Palestine was the answer. Furthermore, although the majority of German Jews refused to consider the Zionists as their political leaders, it is clear that Hitler protected and cooperated with the Zionists for the purposes of implementing the final solution: the mass transfer of Jews to the Middle East.

Edwin Black, in his massive tome The Transfer Agreement (Macmillan, 1984), stated that although most Jews did not want to flee to Palestine at all, due to the Zionist movement’s influence within Nazi Germany a Jew’s best chance of getting out of Germany was by emigrating to Palestine. In other words, the Transfer Agreement itself mandated that Jewish capital could only to go Palestine.

Thus, according to the Zionists, a Jew could leave Germany only if he went to the Levant.

The primary difficulty with the Transfer Agreement (or even the idea of such an agreement) was that the English [!!!; Scriptorium] were demanding, as a condition of immigration, that each immigrant pay 1,000 pounds sterling upon arrival in Haifa or elsewhere. The difficulty was that such hard currency was nearly impossible to come by in a cash-strapped and radically inflationary Germany. This was the main idea behind the final Transfer Agreement. Laqueur writes:

A large German bank would freeze funds paid in by immigrants in blocked accounts for German exporters, while a bank in Palestine would control the sale of German goods to Palestine, thereby providing the immigrants with the necessary foreign currency on the spot. Sam Cohen, co-owner of Hanoaiah Ltd. and initiator of the transfer endeavors, was however subjected to long-lasting objections from his own people and finally had to concede that such a transfer agreement could only be concluded on a much higher level with a bank of its own rather than that of a private company. The renowned Anglo-Palestine Bank in London would be included in this transfer deal and create a trust company for [this] purpose.

Of course, this is of major historical importance in dealing with the relationship between Zionism and National Socialism in Germany in the 1930s. The relationship was not one merely of mutual interest and political favoritism on the part of Hitler, but a close financial relationship with German banking families and financial institutions as well. Black writes:

It was one thing for the Zionists to subvert the anti-Nazi boycott. Zionism needed to transfer out the capital of German Jews, and merchandise was the only available medium. But soon Zionist leaders understood that the success of the future Jewish Palestinian economy would be inextricably bound up with the survival of the Nazi economy. So the Zionist leadership was compelled to go further. The German economy would have to be safeguarded, stabilized, and if necessary reinforced. Hence, the Nazi party and the Zionist organizers shared a common stake in the recovery of Germany.

Thus one sees a radical fissure in world Jewry around 1933 and beyond. There were, first, the non-Zionist Jews (specifically the World Jewish Congress founded in 1933), who, on the one hand, demanded the boycott and eventual destruction of Germany. Black notes that many of these people were not just in New York and Amsterdam, but a major source for this also came from Palestine proper.

On the other hand, one can see the judicious use of such feelings by the Zionists for the sake of eventual resettlement in Palestine. In other words, it can be said (and Black does hint at this) that Zionism believed that, since Jews would be moving to the Levant, capital flight would be necessary for any new economy to function.

The result was the understanding that Zionism would have to ally itself with National Socialism, so that the German government would not impede the flow of Jewish capital out of the country.

It served the Zionist interests at the time that Jews be loud in their denunciations of German practices against the Jews to scare them into the Levant, but, on the other hand, Laqueur states that “The Zionists became motivated not to jeopardize the German economy or currency.” In other words, the Zionist leadership of the Jewish Diaspora was one of subterfuge and underhandedness, with only the advent of German hostility towards Jewry convincing the world’s Jews that immigration was the only escape.

The fact is that the ultimate establishment of the state of Israel was based on fraud. The Zionists did not represent anything more than a small minority of German Jews in 1933.

On the one hand, the Zionist fathers of Israel wanted loud denunciations of Germany’s “cruelties” to the world’s Jews while at the same time demanding moderation so that the National Socialist government would remain stable, financially and politically. Thus Zionism boycotted the boycott.

For all intents and purposes, the National Socialist government was the best thing to happen to Zionism in its history, for it “proved” to many Jews that Europeans were irredeemably anti-Jewish and that Palestine was the only answer: Zionism came to represent the overwhelming majority of Jews solely by trickery and cooperation with Adolf Hitler.

For the Zionists, both the denunciations of German policies towards Jews (to keep Jews frightened), plus the reinvigoration of the German economy (for the sake of final resettlement) was imperative for the Zionist movement. Ironically, today the Zionist leaders of Israel complain bitterly about the horrific and inhuman regime of the National Socialists. So the fraud continues.

The Jewish Declaration of War on Nazi Germany The Economic Boycott of 1933

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The Jewish Declaration of War on Nazi Germany: The …

Jews in New York City: There Goes the Neighborhood …

A more heavily Orthodox American Jewish population spells the end of a long love affair with liberalism and the Democratic Party.

The popular stereotype of the New York Jew has long been of someone who resides in the wealthy enclave of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, reads The New York Times and votes for the Democratic Party with a religious devotion. Their Jewish practices largely consist of attending synagogue services on the High Holidays, sending the children to Jewish summer camps, and eating bagels and lox. This image, however, is now as outdated as Jewish vacations in the Catskills.

The New York Jews of today are more religious, more conservative, less educated and poorer than their predecessors. There are also more of them. Those are the main findings of a landmark study just released by the UJA-Federation of New York.

The study, conducted in 2011, is the largest of its kind ever undertaken in the United States. Its findings will be pored over for years to come. The significance of one of its findings, however, is immediately obvious and striking: New York’s Jewish community is becoming increasingly Orthodox.

Thirty-two percent of Jewish households in the New York region are now Orthodox. Three decades ago, in 1981, the figure was just 13 percent. In New York City itself, the epicenter of the organized American Jewish community, 40 percent of the population is Orthodox. Most of these are actually ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Not only do Orthodox Jews now constitute a large proportion of New York’s Jewish population, but they are also likely to become a majority in the future, if current demographic trends continue. The startling fact that two out of three Jewish children living in the New York region are Orthodox (even more in the city ) already suggests that the future Jewish community of New York will be increasingly religious, if not Haredi.

The implications of this for American Jewry, for Jewish politics and for Israel are profound. New York’s Jewish population, which now numbers more than 1.5 million (out of a total American Jewish population estimated at 6.5 million ), is the largest in the world outside of Israel. This fact alone underscores the significance of its changing demography. Moreover, in Jewish communities across the United States, the proportion of Orthodox Jews is growing, as the non-Orthodox assimilate, intermarry and have fewer children.

A more heavily Orthodox American Jewish population spells the end of a long love affair with liberalism and the Democratic Party. Numerous polls indicate that Orthodox Jews are more politically conservative, and more supportive of the Republican Party, than non-Orthodox Jews. On a host of controversial social issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage and parochial schooling, they think more like Evangelical Christians than liberal Jews. This provides a huge opportunity for the Republican Party to do what it has tried and largely failed to do for the past three decades – prize American Jewish voters away from their historic attachment to the Democrats.

If the American-Jewish community becomes more right-wing and abandons its traditional support for liberalism, this will only further alienate the already shrinking number of non-Orthodox, liberal Jews in its midst. Rather than remain within the community, they could well become completely estranged from it, further cementing the religious and right-wing orientation of the organized Jewish community. Thus, the most important and influential Jewish community in the Diaspora could be slowly transformed from a bastion of progressive social values and Jewish religious pluralism, able to exercise a mostly benign influence upon Israel, to a redoubt of ultra-Orthodoxy, thereby strengthening the growing power of the Haredim in Israel.

In future, American Jewish support for religious pluralism in Israel, Arab civil rights and Arab-Jewish coexistence, Israeli-Palestinian peace and a host of other noble causes, could all be jeopardized by the growing religiosity of American Jewry. While there is nothing inherently contradictory between Judaism and support for peace, human rights and social justice, the fact remains that, in practice, Orthodox Jews are far less committed to these causes.

The gradual demographic transformation of New York’s Jewish community is merely a microcosm of what is happening across the Jewish world. The Orthodox proportion of the European Jewish population is also growing. Haredim, for example, now make up an estimated 17 percent of Britain’s Jewish population and account for three-quarters of all British Jewish births. It has been predicted that by 2050, half of all British Jews will be Haredi.

The same demographic trend is occurring in Israel, where, according to a Central Bureau of Statistics report last year, the ultra-Orthodox population is expected to rise to over 30 percent of the population in the next 50 years (from the present 10 percent ).

Is demography destiny? What does the increasingly Orthodox makeup of the Jewish population in New York, London, Paris, Jerusalem and elsewhere portend for the future of world Jewry? While one must be cautious about making long-term predictions based upon current trends, it seems safe to say that the predominantly secular Jewish communities of today, and their prevailing cultural and political values, are increasingly endangered.

Dov Waxman is an associate professor of political science at Baruch College and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is coauthor of “Israel’s Palestinians: The Conflict Within” (2011), and is currently a visiting scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Jews in New York City: There Goes the Neighborhood …

Jews Of Color

Jewish Living Magazine

In Loving Color By Rachel Sarah

Raising a biracial Jewish daughter, a mother finds herself answering many questions: from her child, from total strangers, and from her own heart.

Mommy, you became Jewish when you had me.

Thats how Mae, my eight-year-old daughter, explains it, and shes right. Sort of. Mae was seven months old when her father walked out and I became a single mom. At that point in my life, Id never been so far from Judaism. I was firmly planted in motherhood, but it would take me a while to see that I needed my religious roots to unfold.

Today, Mae is a spirited second grader with a beautiful afro, cinnamon skin, and full lips. Many people assume were not related. But Mae who is quite a sensitive child otherwiseisnt self-conscious about looking different from her Jewish peers. I, her mother, am the one who sometimes feels or is made to feel insecure.

Its not as if we shouldnt be used to the idea of mixed-race heritage. There are Jews everywhere Ethiopia, Russia, China, India. Everyone who visits Israel tells a story of meeting someone who, because of skin color or another physical characteristic, she simply couldnt believe is one of us. In the United States, according to one study, one of every five Jews (1.2 million people!) is either black, Asian, Latino, of mixed race, or of Sephardic background.

Not me. Im white, of mostly Polish descent. My father is Jewish; my mother was born Catholic. She stopped going to church in her 20s and supported the raising of her children as Jewish (although she didnt convert). I had a bat mitzvah and a confirmation. I went to Jewish summer camps. I went to Israel. I was told that 60 of my relatives were lost in the Holocaust the single fact that always kept me deeply connected to Judaism. But when, in my 17th year, a rabbi in Israel told me that I wasnt really Jewish because my heritage hadnt been passed down matrilineally, I was crushed. In anger and disappointment, I distanced myself from anything Jewish for more than a decade.

Twelve years later I had Mae. I was living in New York City, and, despite its large Jewish population, I didnt know any who were of mixed race. When I moved back to the Bay Area to be near my family, there was a Jewish preschool down the street, but I was adamant about not sending Mae there: If Id felt shunned for not having a Jewish mother, imagine how she would feel. So, I found a diverse, high-energy preschool; she cried for a week. Every afternoon when I picked her up, her eyes were bloodshot.

Friends raved about the nearby Jewish pre-school, so I called: A spot had just opened up. I was unsure, but the moment Mae walked into Kitah Aleph, she felt at home. And she was not alone. Three children were Jewish Asian, one boy was African-American, and a Spanish-speaking girl her mother, from Venezuela, had worked at the JCC for more than a decade is still one of Maes best friends.

Mae never wanted to go home when school let out. She learned how to count in Hebrew and how to braid (practicing on challah). She expanded my repertoire of Jewish songs tenfold.

But it wasnt perfect. I once took 5-year-old Mae to a local kids Shabbat service at a Conservative shul. We walked in, and everyone stared. After the service, only one person came up and said, Hi. She was the white mom of an adopted son with brown skin. While researching this article, I called that mom who asked to remain anonymous and asked whether anyone at her temple mentioned her sons race. They ignore it, she said. No one talks about it.

Nevertheless, her son recently said to her, Mommy, most Jews are white.

Lisa Williamson Rosenberg, a New Jersey psychotherapist and writer, is both Jewish and biracial (her mother is white and Jewish; her father was black). Fortunately, she reports, the definition of what a Jew looks like has broadened significantly since I was a kid. She remembers being told, How can you be Jewish? Youre black. As if the two were mutually exclusive, adds the mother of two (her husband is white and Jewish).

Today when I say, Im Jewish, I may get a respectful question or two, Rosenberg says, but I wont get the same kind of disbelief I might have in the 60s. On our two coasts, if you walk into a synagogue theres a good chance you will find at least a few brownish faces. I think its due to the high numbers of interracial marriages, conversions, and transracial adoptions by Jewish parents.

Diane Kaufmann Tobin, associate director of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, agrees.

When I adopted Jonah, I didnt know any black Jews, Tobin says about her 10-year-old son, whom she adopted with her husband, Gary, the institutes president. I wanted him to grow up Jewish and not have to choose between his racial and religious identities.

The Tobins, both of whom are white, were determined to find a place where Jonah would feel very at home being both Jewish and black. So, they founded San Franciscos Bechol Lashon (In Every Tongue) program, which grows and strengthens the Jewish people through ethnic, cultural, and racial inclusiveness.

Clearly Im not the only white mother who hopes her child will feel pride in every facet of her identity. Right now, Mae considers herself Jewish, while others define her on the basis of what they can see as black. Looking ahead, Im not ready for the changes sure to come in her teenage years and beyond, both with how Mae sees herself and how the world does.

I ask Rosenberg for advice on raising my child. Its important not to let the black part get lost, she says. Being black is something many biracial people take a long time to come to terms with I did especially if they identify strongly with whatever makes up the other half. But I believe its important to teach a biracial child to love the black in herself, along with everything else.

One of my closest friends a white, Jewish mom whose extended family is Orthodox is doing just that. She had her 7-year-old daughter with an African man whos no longer in the picture. The Jewish part is easy, says my friend (who requests to keep her family anonymous) about raising her daughter. She was named in a Jewish ceremony at temple. My grandmother even came out from the Midwest. And her daughter? She never questions that she is Jewish.

Instead, my friend worries about helping her child identify with the rest of her background. During Black History Month, her daughter started asking questions about her African roots. Not sure what to do, my friend enrolled her first-grader in an African drumming class; she didnt love it, but Mom persuaded her to keep going because I dont know how to help her feel the parts of her that are not parts of me.

Its hard, with so many negative images of blacks in the media, especially if the child isnt living with a black family member, Rosenberg adds. Its a process that Im still working on. And Im in my 40s.

My daughter, too, seems to have no questions about her Jewishness. She is secure and happy at our local JCC. She attends a Jewish after-school program and will soon start her fourth summer at Jewish day camp. When shes with her Jewish friends, she isnt shy, the way she often is in public. She volunteers to act in skits; she shows new kids where the bathroom is; she teases her counselors . (She did confess to embarrassment, however, when she was recently proclaimed Mensch of the Week in front of the entire after-school group).

Im the one still feeling like an outsider.

Recently, a Jewish friend invited us to a neighborhood party. As I was pouring myself a glass of wineand Mae was asking if she could have another cookie a local dad asked me, Where did you adopt your daughter?

Pointing to my belly I answered point-blank, She came from right here.

Ive got that answer down pat because adults and children have asked me many times whether Mae was adopted (along with other common kid questions, like Why is her hair curly and yours straight? and Wheres her daddy?).

Scott Rubin, a Jewish dad in San Francisco who, with his partner Stephen Moore, has adopted two children, one African-American, the other African-American and Latino, says that strangers also have approached him with questions. First, he tries to gauge their intentions. Then, he wants to know why theyre asking. I always try to tell the truth, he says, but I dont always elaborate. And if they ask, Are they your kids? I say, Yes. But I do not engage in conversations about ethnicity or race with strangers. Ever.

Says Diane Tobin, What Ive learned from other Jews of color is they dont want to be asked, Why are you Jewish? or How are you Jewish? Its rude. We need to educate people about what to say or not to say.

For me, biracial Judaism is a touchy subject. When white Jews ask about my daughters identity, I appreciate their curiosity as long as their tone is respectful and warm and as long as their questions are directed to me.

Rosenberg says, Its not your daughters job to answer. As a parent, you need to step in and say, Why do you ask?’

Still, if Jews are not acknowledging my daughters biracial identity, are they really ignoring her?

Dont look at the container, but look at whats inside. Thats from Pirkei Avot Ethics of Our Fathers, Chapter 4, Mishnah 27. Im led to that tenet by Rabbi Judah Dardik of the Beth Jacob Congregation in Oakland. Although we couldnt be more mismatched Im a 35-year-old single mom who never goes to temple and had a child with a man outside the tribe; hes Orthodox, married, and the father of four Dardik is my go-to rabbi because hes thoughtful, respectful, and patient.

I catch him on the phone on a Friday, an hour before sundown, and apologize for not calling earlier. I tell him that Im trying to write about what its like to raise a biracial Jewish child, but every time I sit down at my computer, what comes out sounds overly defensive.

Many Ashkenazi Jews tend to assume that Jews are white, Dardik says, but its not true. Jews come in different shades and colors. In Judaism, he explains, what matters is not what you look like on the outside your container but what merit you have on the inside.

Ive done something right, because clearly Mae isnt afraid to show her inside. Maybe its time for me to open up a little bit, too.

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Jews Of Color

Georgian Jews – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Georgian Jews have traditionally lived separately, not only from the surrounding Georgian people, but also from the Ashkenazi Jews in Tbilisi, who had different practices and language.

The community, which numbered about 80,000 as recently as the 1970s, has largely emigrated to Israel, the United States (US), the Russian Federation and Belgium (in Antwerp). As of 2004[update], only about 13,000 Georgian Jews remain in Georgia. According to the 2002 First General National Census of Georgia, there are 3,541 Jewish believers in the country.[5] For example, the Lezgishvili branch of Georgian Jews have families in Israel, Moscow, Baku, Dsseldorf, and Cleveland, Ohio (US). Several hundred Georgian Jewish families live in the New York tri-state area, particularly in New York City and Long Island.

Georgian-speaking Jewry is one of the oldest surviving Jewish communities in the world. The Georgian Jews have an approximately 2,600-year history in the region. The origin of Georgian Jews, also known as Gurjim or kartveli ebraelebi, is debated. The most popular view is that the first Jews made their way to southern Georgia after Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BCE and exile in Babylon. This claim is supported by the medieval Georgian historical account by Leonti Mroveli, who writes:

Then King Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem. The Jews who fled thence come to Kartli and requested from the mamasakhlisi [local ruler] of Mtskheta territory in return for tribute. He gave [a place] and settled them on the Aragvi, at spring which was called Zanavi, which was later renamed as Zanavi, the quarter of Jews.”.[2]

Another version offered by Mroveli, was the settlement of the Jews in Georgia during the Roman period of Emperor Vespasian. He wrote that Jews lived in Georgia long before 1st century AD. According to Mroveli:

During their [Bartom and Kartam's] reign, Vespasian, the emperor of the Romans, captured Jerusalem. From there refugee Jews come to Mtskheta and settled with the old Jews.”[2]

The ancient Georgian historic chronicle, The Conversion of Kartli, is the oldest and only Georgian source concerning the history of the Jewish community in Georgia. The chronicle describes a version similar to that offered centuries later by Leonti Mroveli, but the period of Jewish migration into Georgia is ascribed to Alexander the Great:

…the warlike seed, the Honni [Jews], exiled by the Chaldeans, [came to Kartli] and requested the land for tribute from the Lord of the Bun T’urks [suburb of Mtskheta]. And they [Jews] settled in Zanavi. And they possessed it…[2]

Georgian sources also refer to the arrival of the first Jews in Western Georgia from the Byzantine Empire during the 6th century AD. Approximately 3,000 of the Jews fled to Eastern Georgia, which by that time was controlled by the Persians, to escape severe persecution by the Byzantines. The existence of the Jews in these regions during this period is supported by the archaeological evidence, which shows that Jews lived in Mtskheta, the ancient capital of the Eastern Georgian state of Iberia-Kartli.[citation needed]

According to the Georgian hagiography, Jewish communities existed in Georgia in the 1st century. A Georgian Jew called Elias was said to be in Jerusalem during the Crucifixion and brought Jesus’ robe back with him to Georgia. He had acquired it from a Roman soldier at Golgotha.

The Jews spoke Georgian, and later Jewish traders developed a dialect called Kivruli, or Judaeo-Georgian, which included a number of Hebrew words.

In the second half of the 7th century, the Muslim Empire conquered extensive Georgian territory, which became an Arab caliph province. Arab emirs ruled in the Georgian capital Tbilisi and surrounding territory for nearly 500 years, until 1122.

Genetic studies carried out on Georgian Jews as part of a wider survey showed close genetic links with other Jews, and in particular with Iraqi and Persian Jews. This seemed to prove the historical accounts of Jewish migration from Persia into Georgia.[6]

There is not much documentation about Georgian Jews under the Arab domination. In the late 9th century, Abu-Imran Musa al-Za’farani (later known as Abu-Imran al-Tiflisi) founded a Jewish Karai sect called the Tiflis Sect (“Tiflisites”), which lasted for more than 300 years. The sect deviated from halakhah in its marriage and kashrut customs. This sect did not represent the great majority of Georgian Jews who adhered to the traditional rabbinical Judaism while maintaining strong religious ties with Baghdad and other Jews of Iraq.[citation needed]

The Mongols swept through Georgia in 1236, prompting many of the Jews of Eastern and Southern Georgia to move to the western region, which remained independent. There they formed small communities along the Black Sea, and eventually their poverty forced them into serfdom. For 500 years, beginning in the end of the 14th century, the Jews of Georgia belonged to the kamani, or serf class, under the Georgian elite.[citation needed]

Their situation worsened in the 15th and 16th centuries due to constant military conflicts and invasions by Timur, Ottoman Empire, and Muslim Persia. By the end of the 15th century, Georgia had fragmented into three separate kingdoms and five feudal territories. Jewish serfs were sold from master to master as a family or individuals as debt payments or gifts.[citation needed] The Jewish communities were torn apart and Jewish communal life was nearly impossible to maintain. Isolation and lack of a religious and spiritual center led to a decline of Jewish knowledge.[citation needed]

An endless string of wars and rebellions characterized the late 18th and early 19th centuries, leaving the region decimated. Jewish property was often confiscated and Jews were forced to seek the protection of the local feudal lords. Instead of finding security, many Jews became enslaved by these lords. The serfs, including Jewish ones, were divided into three categories according to Georgian law: the King’s serfs, Feudal serfs, and the Church’s serfs.[citation needed]

During this period, large migrations of Jews took place, either voluntary or forced. In the 15th and 16th centuries, a large number of Jews left for Crimea, and many Jews in that region are still of Georgian descent. In the 17th and 18th centuries, tens of thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish Georgians were forcibly relocated to Persia by the Islamic Persian invaders.[citation needed]

In 1801, the Russian Empire annexed Eastern Georgia. The King’s serfs became the Treasury’s serfs, and were obliged to pay taxes to the Tsar. In 1835 there were 1,363 Jews with 113 Karaites living in the town of Kutais (Kutaisi) and its surroundings: 1,040 in Gori, 623 in Akhaltsikhe, and 61 in Tiflis (Tbilisi). The total Jewish population of Georgia and the region beyond the Caucasus was 12,234.[citation needed]

In 1864-71, the Russian authorities abolished serfdom, and Jewish former serfs moved to towns and villages where free Jews were already settled. Finally the Jews of Georgia began to develop Jewish communities. Each group moved together to the same towns and established their own respective synagogues. They were usually made up of a number of extended family groups spanning three or four generations. Each community had a gabbai who served as a rabbi, shohet, mohel, and Cheder, and oversaw religious and communal affairs. These small communities developed into the Jewish quarter of their particular towns.

In the beginning of the 19th century, Ashkenazi Russian Jews were forced to move to Georgia by the Russian government. The Ashkenazi Jews and the Georgian Jews began establishing contact with each other, but relations were strained. Georgian Jews viewed the Ashkenazim as godless and secular, while the Ashkenazim looked down on the Georgian Jews.

Zionism was a uniting cause for the two groups. Ashkenazim joined Zionist organizations and began to spread their ideas to the Georgian Jewish communities. In 1897, the first Zionist organization was established in Tbilisi. On 20 August 1901, the First Congress of Caucasus Zionists was held in Tbilisi. Rabbi David Baazov led Georgian Zionism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1903, Baazov attended the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. In 1918, the All-Jewish Congress in Tbilisi took place and included representatives from every Georgian and Russian Jewish community in the country.

Beginning in 1863, groups of Jews began making aliyah, mostly for religious reasons. By 1916, 439 Georgian Jews lived in Israel, mostly in Jerusalem near the Damascus Gate. Most Jews who made aliyah were poor and worked as freight-handlers in Jerusalem. Other more prominent Georgian Jews served as financiers and carpet merchants. Prominent Georgian Jewish families in the holy land before 1948 were the Dabra (Davarashvili) and Kokia (Kakiashvili) families.[citation needed]

The tradition of the relationship between Jews and other Georgians has no signs of anti-Semitism, excluding the Tsarist Government. For many centuries, the Church in Georgia did not incite against the Jews, and the Georgian Jews were visibly assimilated in the country’s rural life and culture.[3]

In the second half of the 19th century, there were some outbreaks of anti-Semitic acts, perhaps stemming from the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.[citation needed] Anti-Semitism was supplemented by the end of serfdom and the urbanization of the Jewish population. As Jews became traders instead of field hands, Georgian workers began to see them as competitors and economic threats. Anti-Semitism had been active in Russia for centuries and, under the annexation, began to influence non-Jews in Georgia.

Six blood libels have been recorded as having taken place in Georgia. The first blood libel was in Surami in 1850. A little boy from Gori disappeared while on a visit with his parents. The child was found dead after four days, and the Jews were blamed for his death. The guberniya doctor examined the dead child and concluded that he was drowned. The people blamed the Jews and started riots against the Jews. Only the intervention of the head of the Viceroyalty avoided more problems.

The worst and most infamous case was in the village of Sachkhere in 1878, when nine Jews were accused of partaking in the ritual killing of a Christian child to use the blood to make matzah for Passover. The highly publicized trial occurred in Kutaisi, and was called the Kutaisi Trial. The accused were found not guilty, but the blood libels continued.

After the October 1917 Russian Revolution threw out the Tsar’s government and replaced it with the Bolsheviks, Georgians clamored for independence from their occupiers. On 26 May 1918, the Georgian Republic declared its independence. With independence came freedom of speech, press, and organization, which improved the economic situation of the Jews of Georgia. This newfound freedom did not last long. The Red Army invaded Georgia in February 1921, prompting a mass exodus from the region. Approximately 1,5002,000 Jews left Georgia, 1,0001,200 of whom settled in Israel. The remainder fled mainly to Istanbul, where a Georgian Jewish community had been in existence since the 1880s.

Initially, the Soviets allowed the Jews to maintain their religious customs, but after a Georgian rebellion in 1924, the Bolshevik government terminated all Zionist activity, imposed economic restrictions, and generally discriminated against the Jewish community. As a result, many Jewish businesses were bankrupted and 200 families applied for exit visas. Only 18 were allowed to emigrate.

In the mid-1920s, the Soviets focused on industrializing and secularizing the Jews of Georgia. Mass numbers of Jews were forced to work in factories or to join craft cooperatives and collective farm projects. In 19271928, OZET, the organization for settling Jewish workers on farms, established a number of Jewish collective farms. These small homogeneous communities became isolated Jewish communities where Jewish learning was continued. Recognizing this, the Communists disbanded the communities in the 1930s, scattering the Jews among various farms and destroying Jewish communal life.

Meanwhile, blood libels continued in full force, with occurrences in Sachkhere in 1921, Tbilisi in 1923, and Akhalzikhe in 1926.

Due to Soviet persecution and the declining economic situation, Zionist leaders focused on increasing aliyah efforts. The Soviets firmly opposed Jewish emigration and, during the 1930s, cracked down on Zionist organizations, arresting or murdering many members. In 1937-38, the authorities stifled participation in Jewish religious services or cultural activities. In September 1937, nine hakhams, two of whom were Ashkenazi, were arrested in Tskhinvali (Staliniri at the time), and sent to prison without trial and murdered.

The only surviving Jewish institution was the History and Ethnography Museum, but it too was soon closed down. Its director, Aharon Krikheli was arrested in 1948, and the museum closed in the early 1950s, thus signifying the annihilation of Jewish culture in Georgia, which the Soviets had built up during the prewar years.

During World War II, thousands of Georgian Jews served in the Red Army. After the war, the authorities arrested Jews and closed or destroyed synagogues, and anti-Semitic acts of violence erupted. But despite their attempts, the Soviets could not completely annihilate the practice of Judaism and, even in the late 1960s and 1970s, most Georgian Jews managed to observe their traditions. Georgian Jews were able to preserve their identity better than Jews in European parts of the Soviet Union, and assimilated and intermarried less. Throughout Soviet rule, Jews remained society’s scapegoat. They made up the majority of Georgians convicted for economic crimes, and were punished more severely than the rest of the population. Blood libels continued with incidents in Tskhaltubo in 1963, Zestafoni in 1964, and Kutaisi in 1965.

After the Six Day War, huge numbers of Soviet Jews began protesting for the right to immigrate to Israel, and many applied for exit visas. Georgian Jews made up a large percentage of this number. They were among the very first to begin protesting, and were among the most militant of campaigners. In August 1969, eighteen families wrote to the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations demanding permission to make aliyah. This was the first public insistence by Soviet Jews for immigration to Israel. The Israeli government and the Jewish world campaigned heavily on behalf of the plight of the Soviet Jewry. In July 1971, a group of Georgian Jews went on a hunger strike outside a Moscow post office. The determination of Soviet Jewish activists and international pressure led the Soviets to lessen their harsh anti-Jewish policies. During the 1970s, the Soviets permitted limited Jewish emigration to Israel, and about 30,000 Georgian Jews made aliyah, with thousands of others leaving for other countries. Approximately 17% of the Soviet Jewish population emigrated at this time. In 1979, the Jewish population in Georgia was 28,300 and, by 1989, it had decreased to 24,800.

While most Soviet Jewish emigration was individual, Georgian-Jewish emigration was communal. Due to Georgian-Jewish traditions of strong, extended families and the strict, patriarchal nature of Georgian families, Georgians immigrated as whole communities, with emigration of individuals causing a chain reaction leading to more emigration, and brought their community structures with them. For example, nearly the entire population of at least two Georgian towns made aliyah. At the time the emigration started, Israel had a policy of scattering the population around the country, and was experiencing a housing shortage, with the result that Georgians were assigned housing in different parts of the country. The Georgians began demanding that they be concentrated together, and the crisis reached a fever pitch when several families threatened to return to Georgia, and new immigrants, forewarned by predecessors, began demanding to be placed in specific areas upon arrival. Although Prime Minister Golda Meir criticized the Georgians’ desire to “isolate themselves into ghettos”, the Israeli Immigrant Absorption Ministry eventually bowed to their demands, and began to create concentrations of around 200 families in twelve areas of the country.[7]

In Israel, Georgian immigrants successfully integrated into society, but faced certain problems. Georgian immigrants were usually able to find jobs with ease, and often worked in light industry jobs, such as dock workers, porters, and construction workers, but faced certain issues. One major issue was religion; the Georgian Jews were often devout and had fiercely clung to their traditions in the Soviet Union, and were stunned to discover that Israeli Jews were mostly secular. As a result, Georgian immigrants demanded their own separate synagogues to continue their unique religious traditions, which the government agreed to, and enrolled their children in religious schools rather than regular schools.[7]

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Georgia declared her independence in 1991. Since independence, the country faced continuous military conflict, leaving the region in political and economic turmoil.

The situation of the Jewish community of Georgia improved dramatically due to the end of the Soviet occupation. In 1994, President Shevardnadze issued a decree to protect Jewish religious, cultural and historic monuments. In addition, the Jews of Georgia have successfully maintained their Jewish identity and traditions despite the oppression they faced under the Soviets. Intermarriage has always been low and levels of Jewish knowledge are significantly higher than those of other CIS republics.

In 1990, the Rachamim Society was established, which supplies financial and medical support to the Jews of Tbilisi and maintains Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. It functions as an umbrella organization for Ashkenazi Jews. The Association of Georgian Jews (Derekh Yehudi) focuses on regaining Jewish property confiscated during the Soviet era. The Jewish community still faces acts of violence and obstacles in the return of property rights to a 19th-century Ashkenazi synagogue stolen by the Soviets. The Chief Rabbi of Georgia from Chabad Lubavitsch is Rabbi Avraham Michaelshvili, who has been there since the early 1990s hosting the Georgian community and many guests with fervor and devotion. There is a further Chief Rabbi Ariel Levin. There is no umbrella organization for all Jews in Georgia, but more than 30 Jewish institutions are in existence, in addition to one Jewish day school and four supplementary schools. Three Jewish newspapers are published – Menora, Shalom, and 26 Century, and there is also a Jewish radio and television station.

The Jewish population of Georgia has steadily decreased over the years due to aliyah in response to the political and economic issues since independence. Overall, since 1989, 21,134 Jews have moved to Israel. Once numbering as many as 100,000, today the Georgian Jewish population is approximately 13,000. Tbilisi has the largest Jewish population at 11,000 out of 1.5 million. Jewish communities are located in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Oni, Akhaltikhe, Akhalkalaki, Surami, Kareli, and Stalin’s hometown of Gori, and synagogues are located in most of these cities. The provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are virtually devoid of Jews due to the military conflicts in these areas. Many Abkhazian Jews emigrated to Israel from Abkhazia during the war in the 1990s there, while the few who stayed are mostly elderly. A synagogue is still active in Sukhumi. There is one Jew left in South Ossetia (see articles History of the Jews in Abkhazia and History of the Jews in South Ossetia).

In January 2001, in a first step toward establishing relations, the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Jewish community of Georgia signed a cooperation agreement of mutual respect and support. In 2002, Georgian Orthodox Christianity was established as the state religion, and since then there has been concern for all religious minorities in the country. Relations between Georgia and Israel are warm, however. The Israeli embassy is located in Tbilisi and also serves Armenia; the Georgian embassy is in Tel Aviv. Israel has supplied humanitarian aid to Georgia a number of times, including drought assistance and aid for earthquake victims.

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) both have permanent representatives in Georgia. JDC and Hesed Eliyahu distribute food and medical aid to the Jewish elderly, who make up more than 50% of the Georgian Jewish community.

As a result of the 2008 South Ossetia War, some 200 Georgian Jews immigrated to Israel with assistance from the Jewish Agency.[8] During that war, the Jewish Quarter of Tskhinvali was destroyed during the Battle of Tskhinvali.[9]

Georgia’s population almost doubled between 1926 and 1970, then began declining, with dramatic declines in the 1970s and 1990s, when many Georgian Jews left and moved to other countries, especially to Israel.[10]

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Georgian Jews – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Term "Sephardic Jew," by Sarina Roffe

Many researchers believe the term “Sephardic” originally referred to Jews living in and later expelled from Spain in 1492. Today the term “Sephardic” has come to be accepted as a reference to the Jewish exiles and their descendants who settled in countries along the Mediterranean Sea, North Africa, the Balkans, Italy, Syria and Palestine, as well as indigenous Jews who already lived in these places. Some of these Jews fled to Brazil, Holland and the Jewish communities of the New World, including New Amsterdam (New York), Mexico and Curacao in the Caribbean. Sephardim of the Iberian Peninsula (what are now Portugal and Spain), spoke Ladino, a combination of Hebrew and Spanish.

There is debate in academic circles about the definition of the term “Sephardic Jew.”

Is a Sephardic Jew a descendant of Spain and the Iberian Peninsula? Are Syrian Jews, many of whom came from Spain in the 16th Century, all Sephardic? The issue revolves around the fact that Jews were indigenous to the Middle East for centuries before the birth of Christianity and later, Islam.

The official definition of Sephardic according to Rabbi Marc Angel of Sephardic House, is “almost any Jew who is not Ashkenazi.”

One issue is whether it is possible to bring under

Daniel Elazar, the first President of the American Sephardi Federation and a distinguished scholar, said

Another issue concerns the Talmud and is expressed by S. Alfassa Marks.

“The Crusades which started in the beginning of the last millennium virtually destroyed Jewish intellectual life. It was suppressed and almost brought an end to the Jewish creative process in the middle European countries and the Holy Land. It was during this period that the further development of the Talmud passed to Jewry living in Iberia and North Africa. Our Talmud, the base of how we interpret Jewish law, came to Spain from Babylon (Iraq) and the Middle East. It was not developed there; it went there with Rabbi Saadia ibn Joseph Gaon, Rabbi Chanoch ben Moshe and Rabbi Hananel ben Hushiel in the 10th and 11th centuries. These rabbis were born in North Africa. These three rabbis fueled Rabbi Yitzhak Alfassi (born in Algeria, raised in Morocco), who later became one of the highest recognized Talmudists in history. He later lived his life in Cordoba and Lucena, Andalusia.”

Marks notes that it was common for Jews, especially traveling merchants, to travel and have homes in more than one place and on more than one continent. Rabbis commonly thought of as Sephardic settled and lived in many places. In one reference, Marks notes that Rambam lived most of his life in North Africa, not in Spain.

According to references in Genesis, 10.3 and Obadiah, 1.20, the lands called Sepharad were located in areas north of the Holy Land, and were not necessarily in Spain and the Iberian peninsula, as the term is generally understood. Joseph A. D. Sutton contends that Jews in Spain, also known as Sephardic Jews, lived there for many centuries, but were descendants of Middle East ancestors who came to the Iberian Peninsula in stages from Egypt, Baghdad, North Africa, Palestine and Syria. Arabic was the principal language in large sections of Spain until the Christian conquests and was used by the Jews for daily communication and religious works.

“In effect, Jewish Spain was merely an extension of the Middle East, to all extents and purposes, the Sephardim did not substantially differ from their brothers in the Fertile Crescent, in language, religious practices and endeavors.”

Today, many religious leaders in Israel consider themselves as Sephardic and identify with the founders of the Babylonian Talmud, who went to Spain and were considered saved in the West. Marks states that the Babylonian Talmud was written by their ancestors in what is today Iraq, and codified in Iberia. In sending the Talmud to the West, many believe that Judaism flourished and survived.

Joseph A. D. Sutton contends that since the Jews of Spain originally came from the Middle East and their descendants went back to the Middle East, it is reasonable to categorize all of these Jews as Sephardim.

Sarina Roff Brooklyn, New York, USA sarinaroffe@aol.com

The Term Sephardic Jew by Sarina Roff sarinaroffe@aol.com

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The Term "Sephardic Jew," by Sarina Roffe

Torah study – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Torah study is the study of the Torah, Hebrew Bible, Talmud, responsa, rabbinic literature and similar works, all of which are Judaism’s religious texts. According to Rabbinic beliefs the study is ideally done for the purpose of the mitzvah (“commandment”) of Torah study itself.

This practice is present to an extent in all religious branches of Judaism and is considered of paramount importance among religious Jews. Torah study has evolved over the generations, as lifestyles changed and also as new texts were written.

In rabbinic literature, the highest ideal of all Jewish men is Torah study, women being exempt from Torah study.[1] This literature teaches an eagerness for such study and a thirst for knowledge that expands beyond the text of the Tanakh to the entire Oral Torah.[2] Some examples of traditional religious teachings:

Torah study is counted amongst the 613 mitzvot (“[Biblical] commandments”), finding its source in the verse (Deuteronomy 6:7): “And you shall teach it to your children,” upon which the Talmud comments that “Study is necessary in order to teach.” The importance of study is attested to in another Talmudic discussion (Kiddushin 40b) about which is preferred: study or action. The answer there, a seeming compromise, is “study that leads to action.” Although the word “Torah” refers specifically to the Five Books of Moses, in Judaism the word also refers to the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), the Talmud and other religious works, even including the study of Kabbalah, Hasidism, Mussar and much more.

The Talmud (Tractate Kiddushin 30a) defines the objective of Torah study: “That the words of Torah shall be clear in your mouth so that if someone asks you something, you shall need not hesitate and then tell it to him, rather you shall tell it to him immediately.” In yeshivas (“Talmudical schools”), rabbinical schools and kollels (“[post-graduate] Talmudical schools”) the primary ways of studying Torah include study of:

Other less universally studied texts include the Nevi’im and Ketuvim, other rabbinic literature (such as midrash) and works of religious Jewish philosophy.

Orthodox Jews can study the text of the Torah on any of four levels as described in the Zohar:

The initial letters of the words Peshat, Remez, Derash, Sod, forming together the Hebrew word PaRDeS (also meaning “orchard”), became the designation for the four-way method of studying Torah, in which the mystical sense given in the Kabbalah was the highest point.

In some traditional circles, most notably the Orthodox and Haredi, Torah study is a way of life for males. Women do not study Torah, but gain merit for facilitating Torah study for the men. In some communities, men forgo other occupations and study Torah full-time.

Haredi Israelis often choose to devote many years to Torah study, often studying at a Kollel. National Religious Israelis often choose to devote time after high school to Torah study, either during their army service at a Hesder yeshiva, or before their service at a Mechina.

In addition to full-time Torah study, Jews around the world often attend Torah classes in a contemporary academic framework. The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute offers classes on Parenting, Marriage, Medical Ethics, and Business Ethics. [4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Apart from full-time Torah study as engaged in at schools and yeshivot or for the purpose of rabbinic training, there is also held to be an obligation on individuals to set aside a regular study period to review their knowledge. Examples of programmes of study are as follows.

A D’var Torah (Heb: ) (Plural: Divrei Torah), also known as a Drasha in Ashkenazic communities, is a talk on topics relating to a section (parashah) of the Torah typically the weekly Torah portion. In respect to its place in synagogues, rabbis will often give their D’var Torah after the Torah service. Divrei Torah can range in length, depending on the rabbi and the depth of the talk. In most congregations, it will not last much longer than fifteen minutes, but in the case of Rebbes or special occasions, a Dvar Torah can last all afternoon. It is extremely likely that a D’var Torah will carry a life lesson, backed up by passages from certain Jewish texts like the Talmud or Mishnah.

The homily in Christian liturgical traditions bears many similarities to the tradition of D’var Torah.

Like Orthodox Jews, other Jewish denominations may use any or all of the traditional areas and modes of Torah study. They study the Parsha, the Talmud, ethical works, and more. They may study simply the peshat of the text, or they may also study, to a limited extent, the remez, derash and sod, which is found in Etz Hayyim: A Torah Commentary (Rabbinical Assembly), used in many Conservative congregations. It is common in Torah study among Jews involved in Jewish Renewal. Some level of PaRDeS study can even be found in forms of Judaism that otherwise are strictly rationalist, such as Reconstructionist Judaism. However, non-Orthodox Jews generally spend less time in detailed study of the classical Torah commentators, and spend more time studying modern Torah commentaries that draw on and include the classical commentators, but which are written from more modern perspectives. Furthermore, works of rabbinic literature (such as the Talmud) typically receive less attention than the Tanakh.

Before the Enlightenment, virtually all Jews believed that the Torah was dictated to Moses by God.[13][bettersourceneeded] They also believed that as many parts of the Torah, specifically the laws and commandments, are written in unspecific terms, Moses also received an interpretation of the Torah that was transmitted through the generations in oral form till it was finally put in writing in the Mishnah and later, in greater detail, the Talmud.[14] After the Enlightenment, many Jews began to participate in wider European society, where they engaged in study related to critical methods of textual analysis, including both lower and higher criticism, the modern historical method, hermeneutics, and fields relevant to Bible study such as near-Eastern archaeology and linguistics. In time the documentary hypothesis emerged from these studies. Formulated primarily by non Jews,[citation needed] the documentary hypothesis holds that the Torah was not written by Moses, but was simply written by different people who lived during different periods of Israelite history. Some Jews adapted the findings of these disciplines. Consequently, biblical study primarily focused on the intentions of these people, and the circumstances in which they lived. This type of study depends on evidence external to the text, especially archeological evidence and comparative literature.

Today, Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist rabbis draw on the lessons of modern critical Bible scholarship as well as the traditional forms of Biblical exegesis. Orthodox, Sephardim, a majority of Israeli Jews[15] and other Jews, including many whom are not observant, reject critical Bible scholarship and the documentary hypothesis, holding to the opinion that it is contradicted by the Torah in Deuteronomy 31:24,25 and 26, and the Talmud (Gittin 60a, Bava Basra 15b), which state that Moses wrote the Torah, as well as by the Mishnah,[16] which asserts the divine origin of the Torah as one of the essential tenets of Judaism.

Humanistic Jews value the Torah as a historical, political, and sociological text written by their ancestors. They do not believe ‘that every word of the Torah is true, or even morally correct, just because the Torah is old.’ The Torah is both disagreed with and questioned. Humanistic Jews believe that the entire Jewish experience, and not only the Torah, should be studied as a source for Jewish behavior and ethical values.[17]

The recommended way to study the Torah is by reading the original text written in Hebrew. This allows the reader to understand language-specific information. For example, the Hebrew word for earth is ‘adama’ and the name of the first man is ‘Adam’ meaning ‘of the earth’. Jewish denominations vary in the importance placed on the usage of the original Hebrew text. Most denominations strongly recommend it, but also allow studying the Torah in other languages, and using Rashi and other commentary to learn language-specific information.

According to Ruth Calderon, there are currently almost one hundred non-halakhic Torah study centers in Israel. Whilst influenced by methods used in the yeshiva and in the university, non religious Torah study includes the use of new tools that are not part of the accepted hermeneutic tradition of the exegetic literature. These include Feminist, and post-modernist criticism, historic, sociological and psychological analyses, and literary analysis.[18] Among these institutions is the Alma Centre for Hebrew Studies in Tel Aviv.[19]

Devoting a year to Torah study in the modern Land of Israel is a common practice among American, and, to a lesser extent, European, South African, South American, and Australian Modern Orthodox Jews. Young adults spend a year studying Torah in the Land of Israel. It is common both among males and females, with the boys normally going to a yeshiva and the girls to a midrasha (often called seminary or seminaria). Common Yeshivot with year-in-Israel programs include: Mir yeshiva (Jerusalem), Yeshivat Sha’alvim Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh Yeshivat Har Etzion, Yeshivat HaMivtar, Machon Meir, Dvar Yerushalayim, Aish HaTorah and Ohr Somayach, Jerusalem. Common seminaries or midrashot include: Midreshet HaRova Midreshet Lindenbaum, Migdal Oz, Nishmat, Bnos Chava, Michlalah [3], Neve Yerushalayim and many many others. Chasidic and Charedi boys from abroad often spend many years studying in the Land of Israel. Bnei Akiva offers a number of options to spend a year of study in Israel, as part of their Hachshara programs.

Text study projects at Wikisource:

Originally posted here:
Torah study – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tor – Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

Para otros usos de este trmino, vase Tora.

La Tor (del hebreo, , transl. Torah) es el texto que contiene la ley y el patrimonio identitario del pueblo israelita;[3] constituye la base y el fundamento del judasmo.[4]

El trmino proviene de la raz hebrea … (Y.R.H.), que significa “acometer” y se halla etimolgicamente ligado a las nociones de ley, enseanza e instruccin.[5]

Para el judasmo, la Tor es la Ley. Segn la tradicin comn al judasmo y al cristianismo, involucra la totalidad de la revelacin y enseanza divina otorgada al pueblo de Israel. Considerando la importancia de Moiss en este proceso, ambas denominaciones a veces se refieren a la Tor como la Ley de Moiss, la ley mosaica, e incluso ley escrita de Moiss: dado que en el judasmo, la Tor comprende tanto la ley escrita como la ley oral.[6] Ello no es arbitrario dado que su sentido estricto, el trmino Tor se refiere especficamente a los cinco primeros libros bblicos, el Pentateuco, al que se conoce tambin como los cinco libros de Moiss.[7] En hebreo se los denomina Jamish Jumshy Tor ( “Los Cinco Quintos de la Tor”), mas habitualmente se emplea la forma abreviada de esa expresin y se los llama y conoce entonces como el Jumsh (-”Quinto”).[8]

En su sentido ms amplio, cuando el trmino Tor implica todos los libros de la Biblia hebrea, los israelitas suelen denominarla “Tanaj” (“). Se trata de un acrnimo para designar a los 24 libros de la Biblia hebrea. El mencionado acrnimo es formado por tres consonantes, T-a-N-a-J, que son a su vez las iniciales de los trminos hebreos que designan las tres secciones que forman la Biblia hebrea: T de Tor (Pentateuco), N de Nevi’im (Profetas) y J de Ketuvim (Escritos).[9]

Estos libros son:

Tanto la Tor como el Tanaj constituyen aquello que los cristianos denominan “Antiguo Testamento”.[11]

Por ltimo, los judos utilizan la palabra Tor para referirse tambin a la Mishn, la ley oral, desarrollada durante siglos y compilada en el siglo II por Yehudah Hanas.

Segn la tradicin hebrea, los cinco libros del Pentateuco fueron escritos por Moiss, quien recibi la revelacin directamente de Dios en el monte Sina, por lo cual se define como la “instruccin dada por Dios para su pueblo, a travs de Moiss”. Aunque los autores rabnicos difieren en los detalles, la doctrina ortodoxa del judasmo sostiene que la totalidad de la Tor proviene directamente de la inspiracin divina, y que por lo tanto todos los detalles del texto desde el lxico hasta la puntuacin son significativos. De acuerdo con esta doctrina, la escritura de los rollos que se utilizarn a efectos de culto est sujeta a normas sumamente estrictas; un escriba ritual, familiarizado con las prescripciones pertinentes, est a cargo de la tarea.

En varias partes de la Biblia se encuentran citas que indican que Moiss escribi la Tor, verbigracia: 2 de Crnicas 25:4, 1 de Reyes 2:3, Esdras 6:18, Juan 5:46-47, Hechos 15:21. Adems de lo escrito en la Biblia, es probable que Moiss haya recibido lo que escribi en Gnesis y parte de xodo, mediante la tradicin oral de 6 eslabones: 1. Adn: Vivi hasta los 233 aos de Matusaln y hasta los 51 aos de Lamec; 2. Matusaln: Vivi hasta los 98 aos de Sem; 3. Sem: Vivi hasta los 50 aos de Jacob; 4. Jacob: Vivi hasta los 60 aos de Lev y hasta aproximadamente los 18 20 aos de Cohat; 5. Lev: Vivi aproximadamente hasta los 77 aos de Amram; 6. Amram: Padre de Moiss.[13]

Toda la doctrina religiosa del judasmo se deriva, directa o indirectamente, de la Torah. Las fuentes clsicas, sin embargo, ofrecen varias versiones acerca del texto. La hiptesis maximalista indica que la totalidad del texto de la Torah es una transcripcin directa, letra por letra, hecha por Moiss de la revelacin divina recibida en el Sina; esto incluira an los fragmentos posteriores a Deuteronomio 32:50-52, que relata la muerte de Moiss, que le habra sido anunciada anticipadamente por Dios. Otras fuentes consideran que la revelacin tuvo lugar gradualmente, y que si bien el texto es de origen divino, la redaccin es humana. Finalmente, otros autores consideran que tras la muerte de Moiss, otros profetas divinamente inspirados completaron el texto.

Transporte de rollo de Tor, 1929.

Rollo de Tor. Para el creyente judo, el texto que contiene es santo.

Rollo de Tor, abierto, y con puntero de plata.

Rollos de Tor. Sinagoga de Ioannina, Grecia

Rollos de Tor. Sinagoga de la Ciudad de Luxemburgo

Rollo del Pentateuco samaritano. Monte Gerizim, 2013

Si bien la Tor constituye el ncleo de la revelacin divina, sta contiene otros libros. Los judos consideran de origen divino a los Nevi’im o libros de los profetas:

Los doce profetas menores:

Y los Ketuvim o libros de los escritos:

El conjunto de estos veinticuatro libros constituye el Tanaj, al que antiguamente se conoca como Mikr (lectura). Estos libros forman las Sagradas Escrituras del judasmo y es por ello que en hebreo se los llama Kitvei Ha-Kodesh (Escritos de la Santidad) y tambin Sifrei Ha-Kodesh (Libros de la Santidad).[15]

Adems de los libros enumerados, el judasmo ortodoxo sostiene que junto con los escritos, el pueblo de Israel recibi tambin la revelacin oral, que ha sido transmitida de generacin en generacin como parte inalienable de la tradicin juda. Es a partir de las indicaciones y aclaraciones de la tradicin oral, afirma, que deben interpretarse las ambigedades y dificultades del texto bblico. La ley oral se codific y registr por primera vez en el siglo III, para evitar que se perdiese durante la Dispora; el rabino Yehudah Hanas redact el primer comentario acerca de la interpretacin de la ley, compendio al que se conoce como Mishn; lo hizo a partir de las enseanzas de los tannaim, los estudiosos de la tradicin oral.

A su vez, el contenido de la Mishn fue objeto de debate, discusin y comentario por parte de los estudiosos de las comunidades judas en Israel y Babilonia; el resultado de estas discusiones dio lugar a nuevos volmenes de comentarios, llamados Guemar. Junto con la Mishn, estos volmenes constituyen el Talmud, la recopilacin de la tradicin rabnica. Aun los judos no ortodoxos siguen, en numerosos puntos importantes, las interpretaciones del texto bblico vertidas en el Talmud; la nica excepcin la constituyen los caratas, una secta clsica que se rige nicamente por el contenido literal de la Tor.

Los judos se comparan a un diamante en bruto que se puede mejorar con el trabajo[16]

A nivel religioso, dentro del judasmo, la Tor tiene cuatro niveles o maneras de ser interpretada, las cuales se llaman: Pesht, Rmez, Dersh y Sod. Con las iniciales de estas cuatro palabras se forma la palabra Pards, literalmente, “huerto de rboles frutales” (el paraso, para los cabalistas).[17]

Las lecturas de la Tor son una parte importante de la mayora de las ceremonias religiosas del judasmo. En la sinagoga, los rollos en los que estn escritos estos libros son custodiados respetuosamente en el interior de un compartimiento especial, orientado hacia Jerusaln, llamado Arn haKodesh (literalmente Cofre Sagrado, aunque no sea sagrado en s, sino por lo que contiene). En presencia de un rollo de la Tor, los judos varones deben llevar la cabeza cubierta.

Los rollos de la Tor son sacados para su lectura. La lectura pblica de la Tor sigue una entonacin y diccin, prescritas ritualmente, sumamente complejas; por ello, es normalmente un cantor o jazn profesional quien la lleva a cabo, si bien todos los varones judos mayores de edad tienen derecho a hacerlo. Una vez ledo, el rollo vuelve a guardarse reverentemente. La lectura semanal de la Tor se denomina parash hashavua seccin de la semana o sidra, y la misma abarca todo el Pentateuco subdividido en tantas semanas como tiene el ao judo. Todos los integrantes del Pueblo de Israel estudian en la misma semana la misma seccin, lo cual debe generar un clima de unin y afecto entre los que siguen la religin juda.

Cuatro rollos de Tor pertenecientes a la Sinagoga Saint-Avold, Francia.

Apertura de uno de los rollos de la Tor.

Aspecto de la Tor una vez ya abierta y lista para ser leda. Este ejemplar del siglo XVIII, pertenece a la Biblioteca Nacional de Bielorrusia.

Lectura de la Tor durante el shabat en la Sinagoga Brit Braj.

Lectura de la Tor segn el rito asquenaz. Sinagoga Aish, Tel Aviv

Lectura de la Tor segn el rito sefard. Sinagoga en Askeln, Israel

Sumo sacerdote samaritano con milenario rollo del Pentateuco, Nablus, 1905.

Samuel Blinder examina uno de los cientos de rollos de la Tor expoliados de sinagogas europeas durante la Sho, Berln, 1945.[18]

Joven de trece aos de edad leyendo la Tor durante su Bar-Mitzv en una sinagoga estadounidense, 2008

Rabinos leyendo la Tor ante el Kotel durante la plegaria matinal de Sucot, 2011.

Bendicin con presentacin de la Tor.

La Tor es para el judasmo un objeto sagrado porque contiene la Palabra de Dios.

Cuando se observan con cuidado los rollos de pergamino de la Tor es posible comprender que los dos extremos del rollo se hallan a una especie de mango, visible a ambos lados del texto y que funciona como un eje que permite desenrollar, desplazar y volver a enrollar el texto con relativa facilidad.

Dada su naturalerza asociada al Todopoderoso y su uso frecuente, cuando no a lo largo de varios siglos, cada comunidad juda ha desarrollado diferentes modos de preservar los rollos de pergamino que sirven de soporte para el texto bblico. Uno de esos mtodos incorpor una caja o estuche de madera de tipo cilndrico (en hebreo, tik), que no solo sirve para preservar los rollos sino tambin facilita su transporte en caso de ser ello necesario. Otro mtodo involucra el cierre total de los rollos de la Tor, usando un cinto para mantenerlos unidos,[22] y su ulterior cubrimiento mediante el empleo de una especie de camisa o funda de seda o terciopelo.

Las comunidades judas orientales y aquellas oriundas de pases islmicos recurren por lo general a la mencionada caja o estuche cilndrico. Las comunidades asquenazes de los pases europeos suelen emplear la ya mencionada funda. Dado que en la historia del pueblo judo las migraciones han sido frecuentes, en algunos casos es posible que las comunidades hayan inicialmente empleado la caja y eventualmente recurrieran luego a la funda. Ejemplo de ello puede ser el caso de los judos sefarditas, quienes vivieron en territorios que fueron musulmanes y luego cristianos, debiendo emigrar a partir de 1492 hacia otros territorios alternativamente cristianos o musulmanes. Asimismo, en las diversas comunidades judas diaspricas a veces coexisten grupos asquenazes y sefarditas en una misma ciudad, cuando no en un mismo barrio o sector de la misma. Hasta mediados del siglo XX, cada uno de esos grupos mantuvo con apego sus tradiciones caractersticas. A partir de la creacin del Estado de Israel, dichos grupos tienden gradualmente a acercarse y las nuevas generaciones a dejar de lado las diferencias otrora sumamente importantes. Si bien esas diferencias an persisten en el siglo XXI, tambin existe una cierta apertura, y hasta flexibilidad, para con el tema en cuestin, particularmente en Israel. Tal fenmeno es consonante con la inicial naturaleza del Estado Judo, hasta hace algunas dcadas formado por numerosos judos que provenan de contextos identitarios y comunidades con tradiciones considerablemente distintas. Con el renacimiento cultural israel, el mencionado cambio de actitud tiende a reflejarse principalmente en los aspectos estilsticos y ornamentales que ataen a la Tor,[23] mas no al texto bblico.[24]

Incluso si de un modo no evidente, mas considerando el carcter transmigrante del pueblo hebreo y su varias veces milenaria dispersin por el mundo, la caja empleada para preservar la Tor puede, como objeto mvil y transportable, ser asociada debido a estas caractersticas con el Arca de la Alianza que los hebreos construyeron en el desierto y que preservaban en el Sanctasanctrum del Tabernculo.

Significativamente, el embellecimiento a partir de la ornamentacin ha sido casi una permanente constante en el caso de tanto las cajas o estuches para la Tor, as como tambin en lo que respecta a las ya mencionadas fundas. Tradicionalmente, la Tor es embellecida con diferentes adornos, generalmente de plata; ellos incluyen una corona y un escudo o pectoral, asimismo un par de terminaciones o remates, tambin a menudo de plata, y que son colocados sobre la parte superior de los mangos de la Tor, una vez que la misma se encuentra ya cerrada y en posicin vertical. Dichas terminaciones suelen poseer pequeas campanillas y se las conoce como “rimonim” (granadas) o “tapujim” (manzanas). Cuando se trata de una Tor que va provista de una funda, todos componentes mencionados tambin se agregan pero slo una vez que a la Tor se le ha colocado su funda. Un ltimo elemento que suele adicionrsele es un puntero que suele culminar en forma de pequea mano con su dedo ndice extendido: se lo conoce como yad, trmino hebreo que significa “mano”. Visualmente, dicho motivo tiene referentes iconogrficos en la Mano de Dios, cuya manifestacin en la cultura juda se remonta a los frescos de la Sinagoga de Dura Europos y a los mosaicos de la Sinagoga de Beit Alfa, siglos III y VI E.C.[25]

Tor, Italia, siglo XVIII. Museo de Israel, Jerusaln

Rollo del Mar Muerto: Profeca de Habacuc, Qumran, c. 75 a.E.C.

Tapujim o remates ornamentales para la Tor, Marruecos, siglo XIX. Museo de Israel, Jerusaln.

Par de leones herldicos de Jud custodia la Corona de la Ley en una parojet,[26] Sinagoga Ehemalige en Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Toravorhang, Alemania, siglo XVIII.

Yad o puntero de plata para asistir la lectura de la Tor, Francia, siglo XIX.

Detalle de pectoral para Tor. Sinagoga sefard, Praga, siglo XVII-XVIII

Detalle de pectoral para Tor con las Tablas de la Ley y los Diez Mandamientos en hebreo. Sinagoga sefard, Praga, c. siglo XVIII-XIX

Pectoral para Tor, con corona soportada por leones de Jud, menor, Tablas de la Ley y campanillas, 1788. Center for Jewish History, Nueva York.

Motivo de Tor en “maph”,[27] con inscripcin hebrea,[28] 1888. Sinagoga de Niederzissen, Renania-Palatinado, Alemania.

Punteros y medalln para la Tor. Sinagoga de msterdam, 1912.

Componentes y ornamentos de la Tor, incluyendo coronas y pectorales, exhibidos como “Judaica” en el Museo de la Religin en Lviv (Lwow), Ucrania, 2010.

Rollo de Pentateuco samaritano cerrado en su arca propia, llamada “teb”.

Remate ornamental de rollo de Pentateuco samaritano

En el marco del arte judo, la Tor, junto con el candelabro de siete brazos y la estrella de David, constituye uno de los principales smbolos identitarios del pueblo de Israel. Su lugar en la iconografa hebraica y sus composiciones plsticas es por lo general prominente. En trminos visuales, la Tor es indefectiblemente asociada a la idea de Ley y tiende a ser representada de dos motivos principales: uno de ellos es el de las dos Tablas de la Ley con los Diez Mandamientos (en hebreo, “Tablas del Pacto”, );[29] el otro recurre a la imagenera de los tradicionales rollos bblicos que los judos emplean para preservar el texto bblico hebreo y a los que los israelitas sencillamente denominan “ha-Tor” (la Ley).

Ambos motivos figuran en esta pintura. Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, Shavuot (Conmemoracin del Recibimiento de la Ley y Fiesta de las Primicias), 1873.[30] The Jewish Museum, Nueva York.

Los hebreos recolectan el man (derecha) y Moiss recibe la Ley (izquierda). Hagad de los Pajaritos (Psaj), Alemania, c. 1300.[31]

Tablas de la Ley, custodiadas por rampantes leones Jud. Cementerio judo de Thiais, Francia

Tor en una estampilla israel de 1951.[32]

Solomon Alexander Hart, Simjat Tor o La Celebracin de la Alegra de la Tor en la Sinagoga de Livorno, Italia, leo, 1850. The Jewish Museum, Nueva York.

James Tissot, El anciano Simen leyendo la Tor, 1886-94. Museo de Brooklyn

Tor rodeada por sus cuatro coronas soportadas por pequeos grifos ornamentales. Fresco del cielorraso de la Sinagoga Dabrowa Tarnowska, Polonia

Willy Gordon, El vuelo con la Tor, 1945.[34] Escultura junto a la Sinagoga de Estocolmo.

Alrededor del siglo IIIa.C., el texto de Tanaj se tradujo al griego para el uso de las comunidades judas que residan en las colonias griegas del Mediterrneo. La versin resultante, conocida como la Septuaginta, contiene importantes variaciones y adiciones con respecto al texto cannico de la versin hebrea. De acuerdo a la tradicin crtica (ver infra), esto se debe a que la Septuaginta proviene de un canon textual distinto al que compilaron los masoretas para producir la versin hebrea. Segn la tradicin rabnica, sin embargo, stos son aadidos posteriores. A pesar de ser la versin de uso comn en la iglesia de su da, y endosada por padres antiguos incluyendo Agustn de Hipona, Jernimo de Estridn no utiliz la Septuaginta para redactar la Vulgata latina, el texto cannico de la religin catlica, optando ms bien utilizar el texto hebreo Masortico.

En las comunidades judas de Israel y Babilonia, el texto del Tanaj se tradujo al arameo, el idioma cotidiano de los israelitas, para propsitos de estudio y comentario. Las versiones arameas de la Tor se conocen como targumim; el ms conocido es el targum de nkelos el proslito, escrito en la comunidad de Babilonia, an utilizado para el estudio y la solucin de cuestiones de etimologa. Existe tambin un targum jerosolimitano (targum Ierushalmi), compilado en Israel. Los targumim contienen numerosos comentarios y glosas adems de la traduccin del texto bblico.

La datacin de la Tor es tema de debate. Difcil es sostener que el texto bblico de redaccin mosaica pueda corresponderse con el siglo XIVa.E.C.,[citarequerida] dadas las caractersticas del idioma utilizado, de los temas tratados y de las situaciones histricas que se ven reflejadas en el escrito.[36] Segn interpretacin contempornea, los fragmentos escritos ms antiguos del texto se remontaran al siglo VIIa.E.C.[citarequerida]

Una teora que intenta explicar el origen de la Tor es la llamada hiptesis documentaria. Sostiene que el texto actual es el resultado de una compilacin, realizada en Israel alrededor de la poca de Esdrs el escriba, a partir de no menos de cuatro fuentes distintas, cada una de las cuales relataba la historia completa de Israel.

Dos de las fuentes, los textos yavista y elosta, provendran de la poca de la divisin del legado de Salomn a los reinos de Jud e Israel. Otra, el texto sacerdotal, correspondera a una primera compilacin realizada por los escribas del rey Ezequas. Finalmente, el Deuteronomio y otros fragmentos habran sido redactados por los escribas del rey Josas y por la escuela que sigui sus puntos de vista teolgicos durante el exilio y despus de ste. Tras el regreso a Israel, las diferentes tradiciones habran sido homogeneizadas y recopiladas por los sacerdotes.

La hiptesis documentaria se apoya en los rasgos idiomticos distintivos de los diversos fragmentos (en particular el nombre utilizado para mencionar a Yahv en el libro del Gnesis, distincin que desaparece a partir del libro del xodo), en las repeticiones y contradicciones del texto, en otras variaciones conceptuales y en las relaciones con los mitos de otras religiones contemporneas para establecer esta divisin.

En una u otra forma, esta teora es aceptada por estudiosos laicos y creyentes, entre ellos determinados musulmanes.[37] No obstante, la hiptesis documentaria siempre ha generado acalorado debate, al punto de ser rechazada por creyentes monotestas y diferentes estudiosos, quienes recurren a otras hiptesis para explicar la formacin tarda del Pentateuco. Dentro del marco del judasmo ortodoxo, la hiptesis documentaria es considerada errnea y hertica.[citarequerida]

Maph o wimpel para la Tor, pintado a mano. Basilea, 1899. The Jewish Museum, Nueva York

Maph, pintado y bordado. Museo Alsaciano de Estrasburgo, Francia

Map, con inscripcin hebrea, 1888. Sinagoga de Niederzissen, Renania-Palatinado, Alemania

Tik para Tor, Israel, 2010. Posee corona y remates de plata. Hadad Judaica, Jerusaln.

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Tor – Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

The Palestinian Authority – The New York Times

The Palestinian Territories consist of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank that are officially under control of Palestinian governing bodies. The Palestinian Authority was created and assumed control of Gaza and designated areas of the West Bank following the 1993 Oslo Accords negotiations between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel, and was intended as a five-year provisional body to be replaced by a sovereign Palestinian state after completed negotiations. No final settlement has been reached.

In 2006, militant-led Hamas defeated the governing Fatah party in Palestinian elections, but subsequent clashes between the parties led to the establishment of two separate administrations, with Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority leading West Bank areas. Ongoing territorial disputes with Israel have resulted in Palestinian leadership losing parts of its territory while solidifying its control over others. Palestinian territories are considered occupied by Israel by much of the international community.

The 2011 Arab Spring revolts convinced Palestinian Authority Pres Mahmoud Abbas to abandon negotiations with Israel and to focus on winning United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood and reconciling with Hamas. Abbass bid for recognition failed, but the United Nations in 2012 granted the Palestinian Authority observer state status, leading to the authoritys name being changed to the State of Palestine.

Keep up to date on breaking news in the Palestinian Territories and explore our extensive archive below.

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The Palestinian Authority – The New York Times

Aliyah – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aliyah (US , UK ; Hebrew: aliyah, “ascent”) is the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the Land of Israel (Eretz Israel in Hebrew). Also defined as “the act of going up”that is, towards Jerusalem”making Aliyah” by moving to the Land of Israel is one of the most basic tenets of Zionism. The opposite action, emigration from the Land of Israel, is referred to in Hebrew as yerida (“descent”).[1] The State of Israel’s Law of Return gives Jews and their descendants automatic rights regarding residency and Israeli citizenship.

For much of Jewish history most Jews have lived in the diaspora where aliyah was developed as a national aspiration for the Jewish people, although it was not usually fulfilled until the development of the Zionist movement in the late nineteenth century.[2] The large-scale immigration of Jews to Palestine began in 1882.[3] Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, more than 3million Jews have moved to Israel.[4] As of 2014, Israel and the Palestinian territories together contain 42.9% of the world’s Jewish population.[5]

Successive waves of Jewish settlement are an important aspect of the history of Jewish life in Israel. Eretz Yisrael (“Land of Israel”) is the Hebrew name for the region known in English as Israel. This traditional Hebrew toponym, in turn, has lent its name to the modern State of Israel.

Pre-Zionist Aliyah refers to small-scale return migration of Diaspora Jews to the region of Palestine. Since the birth of Zionism, its advocates have striven to facilitate the settlement of Jewish refugees in Ottoman Palestine, Mandatory Palestine, and the sovereign State of Israel. The following waves have been identified:

Today, most aliyah consists of voluntary migration for ideological, economic, or family reunification purposes.

Aliyah in Hebrew means “ascent” or “going up”. Jewish tradition views traveling to the land of Israel as an ascent, both geographically and metaphysically. Anyone traveling to Eretz Israel from Egypt, Babylonia or the Mediterranean basin, where many Jews lived in early rabbinic times, climbed to a higher altitude. Visiting Jerusalem, situated 2,700 feet above sea level, also involved an “ascent”.[6]

Aliyah is an important Jewish cultural concept and a fundamental component of Zionism. It is enshrined in Israel’s Law of Return, which accords any Jew (deemed as such by halakha and/or Israeli secular law) and eligible non-Jews (a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew), the legal right to assisted immigration and settlement in Israel, as well as Israeli citizenship. Someone who “makes aliyah” is called an oleh (m.singular) or olah (f.singular); the plural for both is olim. Many religious Jews espouse aliyah as a return to the Promised land, and regard it as the fulfillment of God’s biblical promise to the descendants of the Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Nachmanides (the Ramban) includes making aliyah in his enumeration of the 613 commandments.[7]

In the Talmud, at the end of tractate Ketubot, the Mishnah says: “A man may compel his entire household to go up with him to the land of Israel, but may not compel one to leave.” The discussion on this passage in the Mishnah emphasizes the importance of living in Israel: “One should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are idolaters, but let no one live outside the Land, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are Israelites; for whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a God, but whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who has no God.”

Sifre says that the mitzvah (commandment) of living in Eretz Yisrael is as important as all the other mitzvot put together. There are many mitzvot such as shmita, the sabbatical year for farming, which can only be performed in Israel.[8]

In Zionist discourse, the term aliyah (plural aliyot) includes both voluntary immigration for ideological, emotional, or practical reasons and, on the other hand, mass flight of persecuted populations of Jews. The vast majority of Israeli Jews today trace their family’s recent roots to outside the country. While many have actively chosen to settle in Israel rather than some other country, many had little or no choice about leaving their previous home countries. While Israel is commonly recognized as “a country of immigrants”, it is also, in large measure, a country of refugees.

According to the traditional Jewish ordering of books of the Tanakh (Old Testament), the very last word of the last book in the original Hebrew (2 Chronicles 36:23) is veyaal, a jussive verb form derived from the same root as aliyah, meaning “and let him go up” (to Jerusalem in Judah).[9]

2 Chronicles 36:23 (KJV) Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. Who [is there] among you of all his people? The LORD his God [be] with him, and let him go up.

Return to the land of Israel is a recurring theme in Jewish prayers recited every day, three times a day, and holiday services on Passover and Yom Kippur traditionally conclude with the words “Next year in Jerusalem”. Because Jewish lineage can provide a right to Israeli citizenship, aliyah (returning to Israel) has both a secular and a religious significance.

For generations of religious Jews, aliyah was associated with the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Jews prayed for their Messiah to come, who was to redeem the land of Israel from gentile rule and return world Jewry to the land under a Halachic theocracy.[10]

The Hebrew Bible relates that the patriarch Abraham came to the Land of Canaan with his family and followers in approximately 1800 BC. His grandson Jacob went down to Egypt with his family, and after several centuries there, the Israelites went back to Canaan under Moses and Joshua, entering it in about 1300 BC.

A few decades after the fall of the Kingdom of Judah and the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people, approximately 50,000 Jews returned to Zion following the Cyrus Declaration from 538 BC. The Jewish priestly scribe Ezra led the Jewish exiles living in Babylon to their home city of Jerusalem in 459 BC.

Jews returned to the Land of Israel throughout the era of the Second Temple. Herod the Great also encouraged aliyah and often gave key posts, such as the position of High Priest to returnees.[11]

In late antiquity, the two hubs of rabbinic learning were Babylonia and the land of Israel. Throughout the Amoraic period, many Babylonian Jews immigrated to the land of Israel and left their mark on life there, as rabbis and leaders.[12]

In the 10th century, leaders of the Karaite Jewish community, mostly living under Persian rule, urged their followers to settle in Eretz Yisrael. The Karaites established their own quarter in Jerusalem, on the western slope of the Kidron Valley. During this period, there is abundant evidence of pilgrimages to Jerusalem by Jews from various countries, mainly in the month of Tishrei, around the time of the Sukkot holiday.[13]

The number of Jews migrating to the land of Israel rose significantly between the 13th and 19th centuries, mainly due to a general decline in the status of Jews across Europe and an increase in religious persecution. The expulsion of Jews from England (1290), France (1391), Austria (1421), and Spain (the Alhambra decree of 1492) were seen by many as a sign of approaching redemption and contributed greatly to the messianic spirit of the time.[14]

Aliyah was also spurred during this period by the resurgence of messianic fervor among the Jews of France, Italy, the Germanic states, Poland, Russia, and North Africa.[citation needed] The belief in the imminent coming of the Jewish Messiah, the ingathering of the exiles and the re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel encouraged many who had few other options to make the perilous journey to the land of Israel.

Pre-Zionist resettlement in Palestine met with various degrees of success. For example, little is known of the fate of the 1210 “aliyah of the three hundred rabbis” and their descendants. It is thought that few survived the bloody upheavals caused by the Crusader invasion in 1229 and their subsequent expulsion by the Muslims in 1291. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and the expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1498), many Jews made their way to the Holy Land. Then the immigration in the 18th and early 19th centuries of thousands of followers of various Kabbalist and Hassidic rabbis, as well as the disciples of the Vilna Gaon and the disciples of the Chattam Sofer, added considerably to the Jewish populations in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Safed.

The messianic dreams of the Gaon of Vilna inspired one of the largest pre-Zionist waves of immigration to Eretz Yisrael. In 1808 hundreds of the Gaon’s disciples, known as Perushim, settled in Tiberias and Safed, and later formed the core of the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem.[15][16] This was part of a larger movement of thousands of Jews from countries as widely spaced as Persia and Morocco, Yemen and Russia, who moved to Israel beginning in the first decade of the nineteenth centuryand in even larger numbers after the conquest of the region by Muhammad Ali of Egypt in 1832all drawn by the expectation of the arrival of the Messiah in the Jewish year 5600, Christian year 1840, a movement documented in Arie Morgenstern’s Hastening Redemption.

There were also those who like the British mystic Laurence Oliphant tried to lease Northern Palestine to settle the Jews there (1879).

Aliyah by numbers and by source

In Zionist history, the different waves of aliyah, beginning with the arrival of the Biluim from Russia in 1882, are categorized by date and the country of origin of the immigrants.

The first modern period of immigration to receive a number in common speech was the Third Aliya, which in the World WarI period was referred to as the successor to the First and Second Aliyot from Babylonia in the Biblical period. Reference to earlier modern periods as the First and Second Aliyot appeared first in 1919 and took a while to catch on.[17]

Between 1882 and 1903, approximately 35,000 Jews immigrated to the southwestern area of Syria, then a province of the Ottoman Empire. The majority, belonging to the Hovevei Zion and Bilu movements, came from the Russian Empire with a smaller number arriving from Yemen. Many established agricultural communities. Among the towns that these individuals established are Petah Tikva (already in 1878), Rishon LeZion, Rosh Pinna, and Zikhron Ya’akov. In 1882 the Yemenite Jews settled in the Arab village of Silwan located south-east of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on the slopes of the Mount of Olives.[18]

Between 1904 and 1914, 40,000 Jews immigrated mainly from Russia to southwestern Syria following pogroms and outbreaks of anti-Semitism in that country. This group, greatly influenced by socialist ideals, established the first kibbutz, Degania Alef, in 1909 and formed self-defense organizations, such as Hashomer, to counter increasing Arab hostility and to help Jews to protect their communities from Arab marauders.[19] Ahuzat Bayit, a new suburb of Jaffa established in 1909, eventually grew to become the city of Tel Aviv. During this period, some of the underpinnings of an independent nation-state arose: Hebrew, the ancient national language, was revived as a spoken language; newspapers and literature written in Hebrew were published; political parties and workers organizations were established. The First World War effectively ended the period of the Second Aliyah.

Between 1919 and 1923, 40,000 Jews, mainly from Eastern Europe arrived in the wake of World War I. The British occupation of Palestine and the establishment of the British Mandate created the conditions for the implementation of the promises contained in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Many of the Jewish immigrants were ideologically driven pioneers, known as halutzim, trained in agriculture and capable of establishing self-sustaining economies. In spite of immigration quotas established by the British administration, the Jewish population reached 90,000 by the end of this period. The Jezreel Valley and the Hefer Plain marshes were drained and converted to agricultural use. Additional national institutions arose such as the Histadrut (General Labor Federation); an elected assembly; national council; and the Haganah, the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces.

Between 1924 and 1929, 82,000 Jews arrived, many as a result of anti-Semitism in Poland and Hungary. The immigration quotas of the United States kept Jews out. This group contained many middle-class families that moved to the growing towns, establishing small businesses, and light industry. Of these approximately 23,000 left the country.[20]

Between 1929 and 1939, with the rise of Nazism in Germany, a new wave of 250,000 immigrants arrived; the majority of these, 174,000, arrived between 1933 and 1936, after which increasing restrictions on immigration by the British made immigration clandestine and illegal, called Aliyah Bet. The Fifth Aliyah was again driven almost entirely from Europe, mostly from Eastern Europe (particularly from Poland, Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia), but also from Greece. A small number of Jewish immigrants also came from Yemen. The Fifth Aliyah contained large numbers of professionals, doctors, lawyers, and professors, from Germany. Refugee architects and musicians introduced the Bauhaus style (the White City of Tel Aviv has the highest concentration of International Style architecture in the world with a strong element of Bauhaus) and founded the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra. With the completion of the port at Haifa and its oil refineries, significant industry was added to the predominantly agricultural economy. The Jewish population reached 450,000 by 1940.

At the same time, tensions between Arabs and Jews grew during this period, leading to a series of Arab riots against the Jews in 1929 that left many dead and resulted in the depopulation of the Jewish community in Hebron. This was followed by more violence during the “Great Uprising” of 19361939. In response to the ever increasing tension between the Arabic and Jewish communities married with the various commitments the British faced at the dawn of World WarII, the British issued the White Paper of 1939, which severely restricted Jewish immigration to 75,000 people for five years. This served to create a relatively peaceful eight years in Palestine while the Holocaust unfolded in Europe.

Shortly after their rise to power, the Nazis negotiated the Ha’avara or “Transfer” Agreement with the Jewish Agency under which 50,000 German Jews and $100 million worth of their assets would be moved to Palestine.[21]

The British government limited Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine with quotas, and following the rise of Nazism to power in Germany, illegal immigration to Mandatory Palestine commenced.[22] The illegal immigration was known as Aliyah Bet (“secondary immigration”), or Ha’apalah, and was organized by the Mossad Le’aliyah Bet, as well as by the Irgun. Immigration was done mainly by sea, and to a lesser extent overland through Iraq and Syria. During World WarII and the years that followed until independence, Aliyah Bet became the main form of Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine.

Following the war, Berihah (“escape”), an organization of former partisans and ghetto fighters was primarily responsible for smuggling Jews from Poland and Eastern Europe to the Italian ports from which they traveled to Mandatory Palestine. Despite British efforts to curb the illegal immigration, during the 14 years of its operation, 110,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine. In 1945 reports of the Holocaust with its 6 million Jewish killed, caused many Jews in Palestine to turn openly against the British Mandate, and illegal immigration escalated rapidly as many Holocaust survivors joined the Aliyah.

After Aliyah Bet, the process of numbering or naming individual aliyot ceased, but immigration did not. A major wave of Jewish immigration, mainly from post-Holocaust Europe and the Arab and Muslim world took place from 1948 to 1951. In three and a half years, the Jewish population of Israel, which was 650,000 at the state’s founding, was more than doubled by an influx of about 688,000 immigrants.[23] In 1949, the largest-ever number of Jewish immigrants in a single year – 249,954 – arrived in Israel.[4] This period of immigration is often termed kibbutz galuyot (literally, ingathering of exiles), due to the large number of Jewish diaspora communities that made aliyah. However, kibbutz galuyot can also refer to aliyah in general.

The data below shows the immigration to Israel in the years following the May 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence.[24]

At the beginning of the immigration wave, most of the immigrants to reach Israel were Holocaust survivors from Europe, including many from displaced persons camps in Germany, Austria, and Italy, and from British detention camps on Cyprus. Large sections of shattered Jewish communities throughout Europe, such as those from Poland and Romania also immigrated to Israel, with some communities, such as those from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, being almost entirely transferred. At the same time, the number of immigrants from Arab and Muslim countries increased. Special operations were undertaken to evacuate Jewish communities perceived to be in serious danger, such as Operation Magic Carpet, which evacuated almost the entire Jewish population of Yemen, and Operation Ezra and Nehemiah, which airlifted most of the Jews of Iraq to Israel.[23] Nearly the entire Jewish population of Libya left for Israel around this time.

This resulted in a period of austerity. To ensure that Israel, which at that time had a small economy and scant foreign currency reserves, could provide for the immigrants, a strict regime of rationing was put in place. Measures were enacted to ensure that all Israeli citizens had access to adequate food, housing, and clothing. Austerity was very restrictive until 1953; the previous year, Israel had signed a reparations agreement with West Germany, in which the West German government would pay Israel as compensation for the Holocaust, due to Israel’s taking in a large number of Holocaust survivors. The resulting influx of foreign capital boosted the Israeli economy and allowed for the relaxing of most restrictions. The remaining austerity measures were gradually phased out throughout the following years. When new immigrants arrived in Israel, they were sprayed with DDT, underwent a medical examination, were inoculated against diseases, and were given food. The earliest immigrants received desirable homes in established urban areas, but most of the immigrants were then sent to transit camps, known initially as immigrant camps, and later as Ma’abarot. Many were also initially housed in reception centers in military barracks. By the end of 1950, some 93,000 immigrants were housed in 62 transit camps. The Israeli government’s goal was to get the immigrants out of refugee housing and into society as speedily as possible. Immigrants who left the camps received a ration card, an identity card, a mattress, a pair of blankets, and $21 to $36 in cash. They settled either in established cities and towns, or in kibbutzim and moshavim.[23][25] Many others stayed in the Ma’abarot as they were gradually turned into permanent cities and towns, which became known as development towns, or were absorbed as neighborhoods of the towns they were attached to, and the tin dwellings were replaced with permanent housing.

In the early 1950s, the immigration wave subsided, and emigration increased; ultimately, some 10% of the immigrants would leave Israel for other countries in the following years. In 1953, immigration to Israel averaged 1,200 a month, while emigration averaged 700 a month. The end of the period of mass immigration gave Israel a critical opportunity to more rapidly absorb the immigrants still living in transit camps.[26] The Israeli government built 260 new settlements and 78,000 housing units to accommodate the immigrants, and by the mid-1950s, almost all were in permanent housing.[27] The last ma’abarot closed in 1963.

In the mid-1950s, a smaller wave of immigration began from North African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt, many of which where in the midst of nationalist struggles. Between 1952 and 1964, some 240,000 North African Jews came to Israel. During this period, smaller but significant numbers arrived from other places such as Europe, Iran, India, and Latin America.[27] In particular, a small immigration wave from Poland, known as the “Gomulka Aliyah”, took place during this period. From 1956 to 1960, Poland permitted free Jewish emigration, and some 50,000 Polish Jews immigrated to Israel.[28]

Since the founding of the State of Israel, the Jewish Agency for Israel was mandated as the organization responsible for aliyah in the diaspora.[29]

From 1948 until the early 1970s, around 900,000 Jews from Arab lands left, fled, or were expelled from various Arab nations.[30][31][32][33] In the course of Operation Magic Carpet (19491950), nearly the entire community of Yemenite Jews (about 49,000) immigrated to Israel. Its other name, Operation On Wings of Eagles (Hebrew: , Kanfei Nesharim), was inspired by

Following the establishment of Israel, about one-third of Iranian Jews, most of them poor, immigrated to Israel. Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, most of the Iranian Jewish community left, with some 30,000 Iranian Jews immigrating to Israel. Many Iranian Jews also settled in the United States (especially in New York City and Los Angeles).[36]

The first major wave of aliyah from Ethiopia took place in the mid-1970s. The massive airlift known as Operation Moses began to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel on November 18, 1984, and ended on January 5, 1985. During those six weeks, some 6,5008,000 Ethiopian Jews were flown from Sudan to Israel. An estimated 2,0004,000 Jews died en route to Sudan or in Sudanese refugee camps. In 1991 Operation Solomon was launched to bring the Beta Israel Jews of Ethiopia. In one day, May 24, 34 aircraft landed at Addis Ababa and brought 14,325 Jews from Ethiopia to Israel. Since that time, Ethiopian Jews have continued to immigrate to Israel bringing the number of Ethiopian-Israelis today to over 100,000.

A mass emigration was politically undesirable for the Soviet regime. The only acceptable ground was family reunification, and a formal petition (“”, vyzov) from a relative from abroad was required for the processing to begin. Often, the result was a formal refusal. The risks to apply for an exit visa compounded because the entire family had to quit their jobs, which in turn would make them vulnerable to charges of social parasitism, a criminal offense. Because of these hardships, Israel set up the group Lishkat Hakesher in the early 1950s to maintain contact and promote aliyah with Jews behind the Iron Curtain.

From Israel’s establishment in 1948 to the Six-Day War in 1967, Soviet aliyah remained minimal. Those who made aliyah during this period were mainly elderly people granted clearance to leave for family reunification purposes. Only about 22,000 Soviet Jews managed to reach Israel. In the wake of the Six-Day War, the USSR broke off the diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. An Anti-Zionist propaganda campaign in the state-controlled mass media and the rise of Zionology were accompanied by harsher discrimination of the Soviet Jews. By the end of the 1960s, Jewish cultural and religious life in the Soviet Union had become practically impossible, and the majority of Soviet Jews were assimilated and non-religious, but this new wave of state-sponsored anti-Semitism on one hand, and the sense of pride for victorious Jewish nation over Soviet-armed Arab armies on the other, stirred up Zionist feelings.

After the Dymshits-Kuznetsov hijacking affair and the crackdown that followed, strong international condemnations caused the Soviet authorities to increase the emigration quota. In the years 19601970, the USSR let only 4,000 people leave; in the following decade, the number rose to 250,000.[38] The exodus of Soviet Jews began in 1968.[39]

Between 1968 and 1973, almost all Soviet Jews allowed to leave settled in Israel, and only a small minority moved to other Western countries. However, in the following years, the number of those moving to other Western nations increased.[39] Soviet Jews granted permission to leave were taken by train to Austria to be processed and then flown to Israel. There, the ones who chose not to go to Israel, called “dropouts”, exchanged their immigrant invitations to Israel for refugee status in a Western country, especially the United States. Eventually, most Soviet Jews granted permission to leave became dropouts. In 1989 a record 71,000 Soviet Jews were granted exodus from the USSR, of whom only 12,117 immigrated to Israel.

According to Israeli Immigrant Absorption Minister Yaakov Zur, over half of Soviet Jewish dropouts who immigrated to the United States assimilated and ceased to live as Jews within a short period of time.[40]

Israel was concerned over the dropout rate, and suggested that Soviet emigres be flown directly to Israel from the Soviet Union or Romania. Israel argued that it needed highly skilled and well-educated Soviet Jewish immigrants for its survival. In addition to contributing to the country’s economic development, Soviet immigration was also seen as a counterweight to the high fertility rate among Israeli-Arabs.[39] In addition, Israel was concerned that the dropout rate could result in immigration being banned once again. The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s position was that “it could jeopardize the whole program if Jews supposedly going to Israel all wind up in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. How will the Soviets explain to their own people that it’s just Jews who are allowed to emigrate to the U.S.?”[40]

In 1989 the United States changed its immigration policy of unconditionally granting Soviet Jews refugee status. That same year, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev ended restrictions on Jewish immigration, and the Soviet Union itself collapsed in 1991. Since then, about a million Russians immigrated to Israel,[41] including approximately 240,000 who were not Jewish according to rabbinical law, but were eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

The number of non-Jews among the immigrants from the former USSR has been constantly rising ever since 1989. For example, in 1990 around 96% of the immigrants were Jews and only 4% were non-Jewish family members. However, in 2000, the proportion was: Jews (includes children from non-Jewish father and Jewish mother) – 47%, Non-Jewish spouses of Jews – 14%, children from Jewish father and non-Jewish mother – 17%, Non-Jewish spouses of children from Jewish father and non-Jewish mother – 6%, non-Jews with a Jewish grandparent – 14% & Non-Jewish spouses of non-Jews with a Jewish grandparent – 2%.[42]

Due to the growing 2014 Ukrainian unrest, Ukrainian Jews making aliyah from the Ukraine reached 142% higher during the first four months of 2014 compared to the previous year.[43][44][45] In 2014, aliyah from the former Soviet Union went up 50% from the previous year with some 11,430 people or approximately 43% of all Jewish immigrants arrived from the former Soviet Union, propelled from the increase from Ukraine with some 5,840 new immigrants have come from Ukraine over the course of the year.[46][47]

In the 19992002 Argentine political and economic crisis that caused a run on the banks, wiped out billions of dollars in deposits and decimated Argentina’s middle class, most of the country’s estimated 200,000 Jews were directly affected. Some 4,400 chose to start over and move to Israel, where they saw opportunity.

More than 10,000 Argentine Jews immigrated to Israel since 2000, joining the thousands of previous Argentine immigrants already there. The crisis in Argentina also affected its neighbour country Uruguay, from which about half of its 40,000-strong Jewish community left, mainly to Israel, in the same period. During 2002 and 2003 the Jewish Agency for Israel launched an intensive public campaign to promote aliyah from the region, and offered additional economic aid for immigrants from Argentina. Although the economy of Argentina improved, and some who had emigrated to Israel from Argentina moved back following South American country’s economic growth from 2003 onwards, Argentine Jews continue to immigrate to Israel, albeit in smaller numbers than before. The Argentine community in Israel is about 50,000-70,000 people, the largest Latin American group in the country.

There has also been immigration from other Latin American countries that have experienced crises, though they have come in smaller numbers and are not eligible for the same economic benefits as immigrants to Israel from Argentina.

In Venezuela, growing antisemitism in the country, including antisemitic violence, caused an increasing number of Jews to move to Israel during the 2000s. For the first time in Venezuelan history, Jews began leaving for Israel in the hundreds. By November 2010, more than half of Venezuela’s 20,000-strong Jewish community had left the country.[48][49]

From 2000 to 2009, more than 13,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel, largely as a result of growing anti-semitism in the country. A peak was reached in 2005, with 2,951 immirgants. However, between 2030% eventually returned to France.[50] After the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, French aliyah dropped due to the Jewish community’s comfort with him. In 2010 only 1,286 French Jews made aliyah.[51]

By 2012, some 200,000 French citizens live in Israel.[52] During the same year, following the election of Franois Hollande and the Jewish school shooting in Toulouse, as well as ongoing acts of anti-semitism and the European economic crisis, an increasing number of French Jews began buying property in Israel.[53] In August 2012, it was reported that anti-semitic attacks had risen by 40% in the five months following the Toulouse shooting, and that many French Jews were seriously considering immigrating to Israel.[54] In 2013, 3,120 French Jews immigrated to Israel, marking a 63% increase over the previous year.[55] In the first two months of 2014, French Jewish aliyah increased precipitously by 312% with 854 French Jews making aliyah over the first two months. Immigration from France throughout 2014 has been attributed to several factors, of which includes increasing antisemitism, in which many Jews have been harassed and attacked by a fusillade of local thugs and gangs, a stagnant European economy and concomitant high youth unemployment rates.[56][57][58][59]

During the first few months of 2014, The Jewish Agency of Israel has continued to encourage an increase of French aliyah through aliyah fairs, Hebrew-language courses, sessions which help potential immigrants to find jobs in Israel, and immigrant absorption in Israel.[60] A May 2014 survey revealed that 74 percent of French Jews consider leaving France for Israel where of the 74 percent, 29.9 percent cited anti-Semitism. Another 24.4 cited their desire to preserve their Judaism, while 12.4 percent said they were attracted by other countries. Economic considerations was cited by 7.5 percent of the respondents.[61] By June 2014, it was estimated by the end of 2014 a full 1 percent of the French Jewish community will have made aliyah to Israel, the largest in a single year. Many Jewish leaders stated the emigration is being driven by a combination of factors, including the cultural gravitation towards Israel and Frances economic woes, especially for the younger generation drawn by the possibility of other socioeconomic opportunities in the more vibrant Israeli economy.[62][63] During the Hebrew year 5774 (September 2013 – September 2014) for the first time ever, more Jews made Aliyah from France than any other country, with approximately 6,000 French Jews making aliyah, mainly fleeing rampant antisemitism, pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist violence and economic malaise with France becoming the top sending country for aliyah as of late September 2014.[64][65]

In January 2015, events such as the Charlie Hebdo shooting and Porte de Vincennes hostage crisis created a shock wave of fear across the French Jewish community. As a result of these events, the Jewish Agency planned an aliyah plan for 120,000 French Jews who wish to make aliyah.[66][67] In addition, with Europe’s stagnant economy as of early 2015, many affluent French Jewish skilled professionals, businesspeople and investors have sought Israel as a start-up haven for international investments, as well as job and new business opportunities.[68] In addition, Dov Maimon, a French Jewish migr who studies migration as a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, expects as many as 250,000 French Jews to make aliyah by the year 2030.[68]

Hours after an attack and an ISIS flag was raised on a gas factory near Lyon where the severed head of a local businessman was pinned to the gates on June 26, 2015, Immigration and Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin strongly urged the French Jewish community to move to Israel and made it a national priority for Israel to welcome the French Jewish community with open arms.[69][70] Immigration from France is on the rise: in the first half of 2015, approximately 5,100 French Jews made aliyah to Israel marking 25% more than in the same period during the previous year when about 7,000 made aliyah during all of 2014, indicating that about 10,000 should be expected for the full year of 2015.[71][72]

With the November 2015 Paris attacks committed by suspected ISIS affiliates in retaliation for Opration Chammal, more than 80 percent of French Jews are considering making aliyah as much of the French populace realize that not just Jews but French people in general are now indiscriminate targets of jihadist terrorism.[73][74][75] According to the Jewish Agency, nearly 6500 French Jews have made aliyah as of mid November 2015 and it is estimated that 8000 French Jews will settle down in Israel by the end of 2015.[76][77][78]

More than 200,000 North American immigrants live in Israel. There has been a steady flow of immigration from North America since Israels inception in 1948.[79][80]

Several thousand American Jews moved to Mandate Palestine before the State of Israel was established. From Israel’s establishment in 1948 to the Six-Day War in 1967, aliyah from the United States and Canada was minimal. In the 1950s, 6,000 North American Jews arrived in Israel, of whom all but 1,000 returned.

Record numbers arrived in the late 1960s after the Six-Day War, and in the 1970s. Between 1967 and 1973, 60,000 North American Jews immigrated to Israel. However, many of them later returned to their original countries.[81][82]

Like Western European immigrants, North Americans tend to immigrate to Israel more for religious, ideological, and political purposes, and not financial or security ones.[83] Many immigrants began arriving in Israel after the First and Second Intifada, with a total of 3,052 arriving in 2005 the highest number since 1983.[84]

Nefesh B’Nefesh, founded in 2002 by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart, works to encourage Aliyah from North America and the UK by providing financial assistance, employment services and streamlined governmental procedures. Nefesh BNefesh works in cooperation with the Jewish Agency and the Israeli Government in increasing the numbers of North American and British immigrants.

Following the Global Financial Crisis in the late 2000s, American Jewish immigration to Israel rose. This wave of immigration was triggered by Israel’s lower unemployment rate, combined with financial incentives offered to new Jewish immigrants. In 2009, aliyah was at its highest in 36 years, with 3,324 North American Jews making aliyah.[85]

Since the mid-1990s, there has been a steady stream of South African Jews, American Jews, and French Jews who have either made aliyah, or purchased property in Israel for potential future immigration. Over 2,000 French Jews moved to Israel each year between 2000 and 2004 due to anti-Semitism in France.[86] The Bnei Menashe Jews from India, whose recent discovery and recognition by mainstream Judaism as descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes is subject to some controversy, slowly started their Aliyah in the early 1990s and continue arriving in slow numbers.[87] Organizations such as Nefesh B’Nefesh and Shavei Israel help with aliyah by supporting financial aid and guidance on a variety of topics such as finding work, learning Hebrew, and assimilation into Israeli culture.

In early 2007 Haaretz reported that aliyah for the year of 2006 was down approximately 9% from 2005, “the lowest number of immigrants recorded since 1988″.[88] The number of new immigrants in 2007 was 18,127, the lowest since 1988. Only 36% of these new immigrants came from the former Soviet Union (close to 90% in the 1990s) while the number of immigrants from countries like France and the United States is stable.[89] Some 15,452 immigrants arrived in Israel in 2008 and 16,465 in 2009.[90] On October 20, 2009, the first group of Kaifeng Jews arrived in Israel, in an aliyah operation coordinated by Shavei Israel.[91][92][93]Shalom Life reported that over 19,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel in 2010, an increase of 16 percent over 2009.[94]

In 2013, the office of the Prime Minister of Israel announced that some people “wishing to immigrate to Israel could be subjected to DNA testing to prove their Jewishness”. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said genetic testing program is based on the recommendations of Nativ, an Israeli government organization that has helped Jews from Russia and rest of the former Soviet Union with Aliyah since the 1950s.[95]

The number of immigrants since 1882 by period, continent of birth, and country of birth is given in the table below. Continent of birth and country of birth data is almost always unavailable or nonexistent for before 1919.[51][96]

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Aliyah – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Israel – The New York Times

The State of Israel is seated on a portion of land in the Middle East, known from 1920 to 1948 as Palestine, that is also a holy land for a number of religions, among them Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Druze and Bahai Faith. A representative democracy with a parliamentary system of government, modern Israel is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip, both Palestinian territories.

Since its founding, the population of Israel has grown more than 10-fold as its economy has transitioned from a primarily socialist one to a free market economy based on capitalism, with some of its original social welfare system still intact.

Enmity from its neighbors has impacted Israel from the time of its independence in 1948. Israeli jurisdiction over the holy city of Jerusalem is a focus of international dispute, and conflict over Israels occupation of Palestinian territories has shaped the countrys internal political and social structures as well as its international relations.

Prime Min Benjamin Netanyahu, who first served as prime minister during the tempestuous time from 1996 until 1999 and was later re-elected in 2009 and 2015, faces perhaps his greatest challenge as changes sparked by the Arab Spring in 2011 continue to roil and reshape the Middle East. Israel itself is being convulsed by an internal social movement clamoring for solutions to a severe housing shortage, a rising cost of living and a deterioration of public services.

The predominant issue shaping Netanyahus current term as prime minister may well be Israels confrontations with Iran, which he accuses of being the primary financial support for Hezbollah. Netanyahu has continually and forcefully argued about the dangers of allowing Iran to have nuclear capabilities, often describing his unfaltering stance against a nuclear-armed Iran as a lifetime mission. Israel is a critical strategic ally for the United States in the Middle East, and American government leaders and lawmakers have long expressed strong support, both politically and in the form of foreign aid, for the State of Israel.

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Israel – The New York Times

B’nai Jeshurun | BJ is a Jewish community built on the …

Community Potluck Shabbat Dinner with Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein

Friday, March 25 | Following Kabbalat Shabbat Service | 89th Street Reception and Middle Rooms

Pull out the quinoa and kale the next community potluck shabbat dinner is right around the corner! Getready to make your Shabbata little sweeter with friends, food, and soulful singing led byRabbi Marcelo Bronstein.Bring your friends! Bring your family! Bring your dairy/vegetarian creations! Free but you must register here.

Saturday, March 26| 5:00PM | 89th Street Reception Room Join Rabbi Marcelo Bronsteinfor an interactive, warm, and inviting musical Minhaservice. As a demonstration of our commitment to inclusion, this will be an accessible experience, sensitive to children and young adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Everyone is welcome, including members and non-members. Registration not required.

Saturday, March26 | During and Following Shabbat Morning Services | 86th Street Sanctuary and Chapel

BJ is honored to host as our guests Debbie Almontaser,president of the Muslim Community Network, and members ofMCNs youth leadership development program. Ms. Almontaser will speak during Shabbat morning services about the current political climate and its effect on the Muslim community in New York and nationally. After services, we will have the opportunity to continue the conversation in an intimate, small group setting.

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Sunday, March 27| 1:00PM | 88th Street Kitchen

Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, March through July | 89th Street Community House


Thanks to a grant from the WZO (World Zionist Organization) and the Israeli Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption* we will be opening three beginning-level Ulpan (Hebrew Class) at BJ.

The class will meet weekly from mid-March through the end of July, a total of 20 meetings, for 2 hour-long sessions each.

Cost: $160 for the entire semester. (The true cost of this program is much higher; thanks to heavy subsidy from the WZO we are able to offer the classes at this significantly reduced cost.)

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Wednesday, March 30| 6:30-8:30PM | Departure Location TBD Are you curious about what happens to the bottles and cans you recycle? BJs Environmental JusticeHevra hasarranged a special in depth tour of the new SIMS Recycling Center as part of their work on the Transform Dont Trash NYC Campaign.This tour is free and open to all, including children. Advanced registration required. R.S.V.P. to Les.Include SIMS Tour in the subject line, the number of people attending as well as the ages of any children. The group will travel together either from the Upper West Side or will meet inSunset Park at the 36th Street Station.

Thursday, March 31 | 7:00-9:00PM |59/59 Theatre, 59 East 59th Street


Set in America, Israel and the Palestinian Authority,Wrestling Jerusalemfollows one mans journey to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; an excavation into the contours of conflict illuminates a personal story that grapples with the complexities of identity, history and social justice. Writer and performer Aaron Davidman gives voice to seventeen different characters, animating their struggles, soul searching and barriers, shedding light and offering hope in the midst of one of the most enduring conflicts of our time.

BJ Members will enjoy discounted tickets ($30 each). The play will be followed by a discussion with writer and performerAaron DavidmanandRabbi Matalon.Get your tickets here.

Thursday, March 31 | 12:30-1:30PM | Location Provided Upon Registration Through the close reading of short stories about the lives, struggles and concerns of the Talmudic rabbis we uncover deeper layers of our own selves and we become better equipped to wrestle with our human nature.No knowledge of Hebrew is required. Please bring your own lunch to the midtown location. Specific location information will be provided upon registration. The March 31session is to be confirmed. Free of charge. Members only. To register, please click hereor email Bethat btarson@bj.org.

Saturday, April 2| 9:30-10:15AM | 86th Street Chapel Build and strengthen your Shabbat morning tefillah foundation with our pilot 5-session Learners Minyan. Explore liturgy, melody, and mechanics with those of all levels of experience while engaging in meaningful prayer. Led by BJ Rabbinic Fellows and Rabbis on the first Shabbat morning of each month (Next sessions: May 7 and June 4).

Saturday, April 2 | 8:00PM | Address provided upon R.S.V.P.

Saturday, April 2 | During and After Shabbat Morning Services | 86th St. Sanctuary

Through the inspiring efforts of IsraAID, an Israel based NGO providing medical, educational and psychological support for thousands of Syrian refugees, Israeli, Palestinian and American volunteers are working together to provide refugee aid in four countries: Jordan, Iraq, Greece and Germany. Join Navel (Voni) Glick, Chief Operating Officer of IsraAID, to learn more about the team of Muslims, Christians, Druze and Jews that is responding to the Syrian Refugee crisis. Hear heartbreaking stories of loss and resilience about IsraAID work following the tragedy of the civil war in Syria.

These words from Psalm 69 may be read literally as I am my prayer to You. How do we become our prayer? Deepen your understanding and enhance your capacity for true and meaningful prayer by participating in one or more sessions on the first Tuesday of each month. We will begin by strengthening the bonds of community among us through a shared meal and singing together. Please bring your own dairy or vegetarian dinner. This series is free of charge and open to BJ members at any level of learning or practice.To register, click here.

The Amidah and Petitionary Prayer with Rabbi Roly Matalon Tuesday, April 5| 6:30-9:00PM | 89th Street Community House

Wednesday, April 6 Tuesday, April 12, 2016|Argentina

Wednesday, April 6| 7:00-8:30 PM| 89th Street Middle Room Make an unforgettable sederwith this presentationand workshop led by Dr. MurraySpiegel and Rickey Stein.A Passover Prep workshop unlike any other! Learn from the experts, whowere featured in the New York Times and on PBS. Enjoy infectious enthusiasm and learn how to make your next seder the most fun and interesting youve ever had. Thisfascinating, humorous, and educational multimedia presentation, from the creatorsof the acclaimed multicultural300 Ways to Ask The Four Questions, covers a wide variety of topics: the history of the seder, the origins of its customs, creative and educational ways to use the Four Questions, novel approaches and different themes for your seder. This program will help you make an unforgettable seder. Click here to register. $10 for BJ members, $15 non-members. Scholarships available,contact Rabbi Sarit Horwitz at shorwitz@bj.org.

Thursday, April 7 |8:00- 9:30PM |Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 West 68 St.

Eshkol Nevo, the best-selling and award winning Israeli author (World Cup Wishes, Homesick, Neuland), will share his writing process and discuss themes in his bestselling books. From the freezing, lonely lands of Siberia, to shamanism in South and Central American cultures and Zionism in Israel, Nevo weaves his narratives into a complex world.

This event will be held in English at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. BJ members will get to attend this event for the SWFS member rate ($20 instead of $25-35) using promotional code: CHBJ. Register here for that event.

Friday, April 8| 7:00PM | 89th Street Reception Room Led byby RabbiMarcelo Bronstein, Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Karina Zilberman, this service involves meditation, reflection, deep listening and personal engagement with the parashah. Please contact Beth at btarson@bj.orgwith any questions.

Spiritual Liberationwith Rabbis Felicia Sol and Sarit Horwitz Saturday, April 9| 5:00-8:30PM | 89th Street Community House Immerse, converse, connect and reflect with a little nosh. Join with women of all ages to explore, study and deepen communal connections in this four part series. This series is free of charge and open to BJ members at any level of learning or practice. Please bring adairy or vegetariandish to share.To register, please click here.

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B’nai Jeshurun | BJ is a Jewish community built on the …

Palestine | Define Palestine at Dictionary.com

Palestine definition

Historic region on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, comprising parts of modern Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.

originally denoted only the sea-coast of the land of Canaan inhabited by the Philistines (Ex. 15:14; Isa. 14:29, 31; Joel 3:4), and in this sense exclusively the Hebrew name Pelesheth (rendered “Philistia” in Ps. 60:8; 83:7; 87:4; 108:9) occurs in the Old Testament. Not till a late period in Jewish history was this name used to denote “the land of the Hebrews” in general (Gen. 40:15). It is also called “the holy land” (Zech. 2:12), the “land of Jehovah” (Hos. 9:3; Ps. 85:1), the “land of promise” (Heb. 11:9), because promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:7; 24:7), the “land of Canaan” (Gen. 12:5), the “land of Israel” (1 Sam. 13:19), and the “land of Judah” (Isa. 19:17). The territory promised as an inheritance to the seed of Abraham (Gen. 15:18-21; Num. 34:1-12) was bounded on the east by the river Euphrates, on the west by the Mediterranean, on the north by the “entrance of Hamath,” and on the south by the “river of Egypt.” This extent of territory, about 60,000 square miles, was at length conquered by David, and was ruled over also by his son Solomon (2 Sam. 8; 1 Chr. 18; 1 Kings 4:1, 21). This vast empire was the Promised Land; but Palestine was only a part of it, terminating in the north at the southern extremity of the Lebanon range, and in the south in the wilderness of Paran, thus extending in all to about 144 miles in length. Its average breadth was about 60 miles from the Mediterranean on the west to beyond the Jordan. It has fittingly been designated “the least of all lands.” Western Palestine, on the south of Gaza, is only about 40 miles in breadth from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, narrowing gradually toward the north, where it is only 20 miles from the sea-coast to the Jordan. Palestine, “set in the midst” (Ezek. 5:5) of all other lands, is the most remarkable country on the face of the earth. No single country of such an extent has so great a variety of climate, and hence also of plant and animal life. Moses describes it as “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt not eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass” (Deut. 8:7-9). “In the time of Christ the country looked, in all probability, much as now. The whole land consists of rounded limestone hills, fretted into countless stony valleys, offering but rarely level tracts, of which Esdraelon alone, below Nazareth, is large enough to be seen on the map. The original woods had for ages disappeared, though the slopes were dotted, as now, with figs, olives, and other fruit-trees where there was any soil. Permanent streams were even then unknown, the passing rush of winter torrents being all that was seen among the hills. The autumn and spring rains, caught in deep cisterns hewn out like huge underground jars in the soft limestone, with artificial mud-banked ponds still found near all villages, furnished water. Hills now bare, or at best rough with stunted growth, were then terraced, so as to grow vines, olives, and grain. To-day almost desolate, the country then teemed with population. Wine-presses cut in the rocks, endless terraces, and the ruins of old vineyard towers are now found amidst solitudes overgrown for ages with thorns and thistles, or with wild shrubs and poor gnarled scrub” (Geikie’s Life of Christ). From an early period the land was inhabited by the descendants of Canaan, who retained possession of the whole land “from Sidon to Gaza” till the time of the conquest by Joshua, when it was occupied by the twelve tribes. Two tribes and a half had their allotments given them by Moses on the east of the Jordan (Deut. 3:12-20; comp. Num. 1:17-46; Josh. 4:12-13). The remaining tribes had their portion on the west of Jordan. From the conquest till the time of Saul, about four hundred years, the people were governed by judges. For a period of one hundred and twenty years the kingdom retained its unity while it was ruled by Saul and David and Solomon. On the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam ascended the throne; but his conduct was such that ten of the tribes revolted, and formed an independent monarchy, called the kingdom of Israel, or the northern kingdom, the capital of which was first Shechem and afterwards Samaria. This kingdom was destroyed. The Israelites were carried captive by Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, B.C. 722, after an independent existence of two hundred and fifty-three years. The place of the captives carried away was supplied by tribes brought from the east, and thus was formed the Samaritan nation (2 Kings 17:24-29). Nebuchadnezzar came up against the kingdom of the two tribes, the kingdom of Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, one hundred and thirty-four years after the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel. He overthrew the city, plundered the temple, and carried the people into captivity to Babylon (B.C. 587), where they remained seventy years. At the close of the period of the Captivity, they returned to their own land, under the edict of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4). They rebuilt the city and temple, and restored the old Jewish commonwealth. For a while after the Restoration the Jews were ruled by Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and afterwards by the high priests, assisted by the Sanhedrin. After the death of Alexander the Great at Babylon (B.C. 323), his vast empire was divided between his four generals. Egypt, Arabia, Palestine, and Coele-Syria fell to the lot of Ptolemy Lagus. Ptolemy took possession of Palestine in B.C. 320, and carried nearly one hundred thousand of the inhabitants of Jerusalem into Egypt. He made Alexandria the capital of his kingdom, and treated the Jews with consideration, confirming them in the enjoyment of many privileges. After suffering persecution at the hands of Ptolemy’s successors, the Jews threw off the Egyptian yoke, and became subject to Antiochus the Great, the king of Syria. The cruelty and opression of the successors of Antiochus at length led to the revolt under the Maccabees (B.C. 163), when they threw off the Syrian yoke. In the year B.C. 68, Palestine was reduced by Pompey the Great to a Roman province. He laid the walls of the city in ruins, and massacred some twelve thousand of the inhabitants. He left the temple, however, unijured. About twenty-five years after this the Jews revolted and cast off the Roman yoke. They were however, subdued by Herod the Great (q.v.). The city and the temple were destroyed, and many of the inhabitants were put to death. About B.C. 20, Herod proceeded to rebuild the city and restore the ruined temple, which in about nine years and a half was so far completed that the sacred services could be resumed in it (comp. John 2:20). He was succeeded by his son Archelaus, who was deprived of his power, however, by Augustus, A.D. 6, when Palestine became a Roman province, ruled by Roman governors or procurators. Pontius Pilate was the fifth of these procurators. He was appointed to his office A.D. 25. Exclusive of Idumea, the kingdom of Herod the Great comprehended the whole of the country originally divided among the twelve tribes, which he divided into four provinces or districts. This division was recognized so long as Palestine was under the Roman dominion. These four provinces were, (1) Judea, the southern portion of the country; (2) Samaria, the middle province, the northern boundary of which ran along the hills to the south of the plain of Esdraelon; (3) Galilee, the northern province; and (4) Peraea (a Greek name meaning the “opposite country”), the country lying east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. This province was subdivided into these districts, (1) Peraea proper, lying between the rivers Arnon and Jabbok; (2) Galaaditis (Gilead); (3) Batanaea; (4) Gaulonitis (Jaulan); (5) Ituraea or Auranitis, the ancient Bashan; (6) Trachonitis; (7) Abilene; (8) Decapolis, i.e., the region of the ten cities. The whole territory of Palestine, including the portions alloted to the trans-Jordan tribes, extended to about eleven thousand square miles. Recent exploration has shown the territory on the west of Jordan alone to be six thousand square miles in extent, the size of the principality of Wales.

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Palestine | Define Palestine at Dictionary.com

indianapolis ADL Blogs

Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhans first public appearance after suffering a heart attack featured a number of anti-Semitic claims about Jewish control over the American government, Black organizations and other sectors.

During his December 1 speech at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Farrakhan revealed he was hospitalized approximately two months ago due to a heart attack. When Farrakhan was unable to deliver his 2013 Holy Day of Atonement speech in Alabama in October, the NOI originally said he was hospitalized for an infection.

In his speech, Farrakhan bluntly stated his theory about who controls the U.S. government: were gonna bring you up to speed. The American government is under control of the Zionists. Farrakhan went on to claim that the Jewish community has power over the NOI and other Black organizations. Its not that Im against the Jewish people. Thats just falseThey have such power and influence that they made most of you believe that Im against the Jewish people.

He made similar claims about the NAACP, stating You members of the NAACP, you want to put on a march to Washington but you dont have no money, so who do you go to? You go to philanthropists, many of them are Jewish. He continued, They tell you who you can have speaking. And they told you dont have Farrakhan. And you couldnt say a damn thing because it wasnt your money it was theirs.

Farrakhan also described sending a copy of the NOIs anti-Semitic book, The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews, which alleges disproportionate Jewish involvement in the slavetrade, to the presidents of all the major Jewish organizations as well as some Jewish public officials. This is not the first time Farrakhan has done so. The letter stated that the purpose of sending the book was to appeal to Jews who are sitting on top of the world in power with riches and influence while the masses of my peopleare in the worst condition of any member of the human family to convince them to repair the damage that has been done by your ancestors tomine.

The crowd applauded as Farrakhan read the last line of the letter which claimed that if the Jews do not make the wise and best choice, that God will bring you and your people to disgrace and ruin and destroy your power and influence here in America and throughout theworld.

Also in the sermon, Farrakhan compared the Jews of today to those of Jesus time, claiming both had disproportionate influence over the government. Did you know the Jesus had a real problem with the Jewish community? They had power, the rabbis of that day, over the Roman authorities just as they have power today over our government, he alleged.

Farrakhans blatantly anti-Semitic public statements are just one part of the NOIs larger anti-Jewish propaganda campaign. The NOI Research Group (NOIRG), which created a website in 2012 that promotes virulently anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, tweeted and posted on Facebook a number of times that Israel was behind 9/11, including most recently (December 3) posting that #Israel has an ugly history of deadly false flag operations, including9/11.

Tags: ADL, anti-defamation league, anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories, farrakhan, indiana, indianapolis, louis farrakhan, naacp, nation of islam, noi research group, the secret relationship between blacks and jews

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indianapolis ADL Blogs

University of California Approves Anti-Semitism Statement …

A University of California committee agreed Wednesday to single out anti-Semitism as a form of intolerance that campus leaders should challenge but rejected a more far-reaching denouncement of arguments against Israel’s right to exist.

A year in the making, the formal position opposing anti-Semitic behavior comes amid a wave of impassioned campus activism that has sparked tensions between Palestinian rights supporters and strong allies of Israel.

The committee of the university’s governing Board of Regents voted unanimously to send what is being called a “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance” to the full board for consideration on Thursday.

“Anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination have no place in the university,” it reads.

The 10-paragraph declaration seeks to spell out the difference between the vigorous intellectual debates the university says it exists to promote and the “acts of hatred and other intolerant behavior” campus leaders have a duty to combat.

One section, for example, states that candidates for leadership positions should not be discredited based on bias or stereotyping. The principle was an apparent reference to a UCLA student seeking a seat on the student government’s judicial council being asked whether she would be able to remain impartial given her Jewish heritage.

“Intellectual and creative expression that is intended to shock has a place in our community,” the document reads. “Nevertheless, mutual respect and civility within debate and dialogue advance the mission of the university.”

The statement was drafted in response to pro-Israel groups that demanded more be done to protect Jewish students amid heightened activism on behalf of Palestinian rights.

When a draft of the statement was released last week, critics expressed alarm over an accompanying report that listed “anti-Zionism” the rejection of Israel’s right to exist as another kind of discrimination that didn’t belong at the university.

Faculty and student groups said the report, if endorsed along with the principles themselves, could be used to stifle free speech and scholarship.

“Anti-Zionism names a political viewpoint that individuals have a right to express under the First Amendment,” Judith Butler, a UC Berkeley comparative literature professor, told the board.

The regents’ Educational Policy Committee softened the disputed wording on Wednesday.

Regent Norman Pattiz, who served on the task force that drafted the statement and report, suggested amending it to read, “Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”

Pattiz said the change would make clear the university recognizes a distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel and actions that cross the line into inappropriate demonization of Jewish people.

The system-wide principles are meant to be “aspirational rather than prohibitory,” said Charles Robinson, the UC system’s general counsel,

As such, they do not bar particular acts or proscribe sanctions but serve to remind administrators of their duty to combat bias and to impose discipline in cases that violate existing anti-discrimination policies, Robinson said.

The principles “express a viewpoint on conduct that promotes and conduct that undermines the purposes and mission of the university,” he said. “Intolerance, discrimination and bias fall into the latter category.”

Student Regent Avi Oved, a UCLA student who is active in Jewish affairs and served on the advisory group, supported amending the report.

“Anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism,” Oved said.

Oved added, though, that students with strong ties to Israel are sometimes subject to slurs that would not be tolerated if they were directed at other minority groups.

If adopted on Thursday, the declaration would make the University of California the first public university system to reaffirm its opposition to anti-Semitic behavior since campaigns for academic and economic boycotts of Israel have taken root on many U.S. college campuses.

Pro-Palestinian groups and faculty members with research specialties in the Middle East were upset that anti-Semitism was the only type of intolerance specifically mentioned in the principles at a time when Muslims in the U.S. increasingly face discrimination.

They remained concerned that the slight change to the introductory report made Wednesday did not go far enough.

“The regents’ new policy offers no clarity on how to determine when criticism of Israel or anti-Zionism crosses a line into anti-Semitism, and was predicated on the erroneous assumption that support for Palestinian rights is inherently anti-Semitic,” said Tallie Ben Daniel, a coordinator for the pro-Palestinian group Jewish Voice for Peace.

On Thursday, the full board could further amend the document, approve it in its entirety or reject some or all of it.

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University of California Approves Anti-Semitism Statement …

The Talmud Part I – Jesus Messiah

By Cohen G. Reckart, Pastor

The Babylonian Talmud

1.) Introduction 2.) What Is The Talmud 3.) Phariseeism Is Talmudism 4.) Frightening Quotes From The Talmud 5.) Kabbalah-Cabalah Apostasy 6.) Destroying Christians Through Sin


The Babylonian Talmud is considered a very holy book by most Christians. And yet most have never seen one or read one. How then did they come to this opinion except by careful deception. This alleged holy book has within it the most satanic plot against humanity in any religion. It replaces the Old Testament (Torah) in such a subtle manner and in such evil ways as to make it obsolete and of little importance except as a crutch for its existence.

The contents of the Talmud reveals both the antichrist and the great whore. No Christian could read this book in a true heart of faith in Jesus and not come away from a study of it shocked and alarmed.

Who is antichrist John asked: “except he that denieth that Messiah has come in the flesh, he is antichrist.”

While Oneness and Trinitarians throw this verse backwards and forwards at each other, the truth is that it was aimed by John against the unbelieving Jews and Temple Cult and perhaps the gnostics. Catholic trinitarians were not in existence at this time and the Apostles would not have thrown this antichrist accusation at themselves. God in flesh was not a problem with the Greeks, they believed in gods in flesh from ancient times. This leaves only the Jews and the gnostics as those who denied Jesus was Messiah come in the flesh.

Yet, in this clear and pointed description of antichrist, is the basic doctrine that Jesus as Messiah must be denied and blasphemed. This one factor of identity comes through loud and clear in the Babylonian Talmud. And before the accusation of *antichrist* can be hurled at anyone else it must first be lodged against all unbelieving Jews especially those who embrace the Talmud.

Within the Talmud is identified the Great Whore of Mystery Babylon. That this unbelieving Israel who supports and promotes the Babylonian Talmud are Jews, is confessed in the contents of the book. That this Israel is the divorced ex-wife of God, is proven by Jeremiah 3:8. That apostate Israel was called a whore-wife of God is documented in the Scriptures in so many places and in so many ways, that to deny it, makes the one denying it a blatant liar. Israel is the Whore of Babylon and the Talmud exposes this to any honest researcher of the prophetic verses in Scripture. The question is not, is Israel the Great Whore and Mystery Babylon, but what role does the Catholic Church and Islam, her two admitted daughters, play in the events of the endtime preceding the second coming of Jesus Messiah?

It is my opinion that the Pope and all of Catholicism, including Protestant Catholicism, will become false prophets for this revived beast system that had a wound by asword (the head or Temple Mount) and yet did live in 1948.

By false prophets, I mean these groups will become the voices to convince the world that apostate Israel is the legitimate heir of Abraham’s Promises and Covenants and that she can obtain eternal salvation without need of faith or salvation through the blood of the New Covenant. This heresy is already being prophesied by Catholics and her Protestant daughters.

These false prophets will declare that Israel and the Jews do not need Jesus Messiah to be saved, they can be saved by revived law-keeping, animal blood sacrifices, and a revived priesthood.

These will claim that a new rip-proof vail can be hung back up and that God will join back together again what he divided asunder when Jesus was nailed to the Cross.

These false prophets will come forth preaching observance of the Law either by necessity or free-will, and allege that this Noahide conversion is what Jesus Messiah planned all along as a means for Gentiles to be added to Old Testament Israel and keep the Law (Old Torah).

These will lie to the world and teach that the New Covenant is not the New Covenant Jesus taught that the Communion Cup was to symbolize. They will go forth teaching that the New Covenant was postponed until the Millennial. They will enter into houses and lead silly women captive with the doctrine that the Gospel of Grace is not the Gospel of the Kingdom. They will deceive millions that the Kingdom did not come on the Day of Pentecost. And we would simply say these are all lies.

Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom in Matthew 16:18-19. Any honest person knows these three keys were used on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38 (Key #1 Repentance; Key #2 Water Baptism in the name of Jesus Messiah and; Key # 3 Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit).

Now if the Kingdom was postponed how then could Peter use the keys of the Kingdom on the Day of Pentecost to open the doors to the New Torah (Testament) Church? If Peter did not use these keys to the Kingdom, and Acts 2:38 does not contain the Keys, then Acts 2:38 is not the plan of salvation in our day and in our time. When then did Peter use the keys? Acts 2:38 would only be for entry into the Millennial. That is simply a false doctrine.

Now, study excerpts of the Babylonian Talmud and see for yourself that it exposes the antichrist and the great whore.

What is the Talmud

“The Talmud, then, is the written form of that which, in the time of Jesus was called the traditions of the elders and to which he makes frequent allusions (History of the Talmud, Michael Rodkinson, p. 70).”

“The teachings of the Talmud stand above all other laws. They are more important than the laws of Moses (Rabbi Ismael).”

“The decisions of the Talmud are words of the living God. Jehovah himself asks the opinion of the early rabbis when there are difficult affairs in heaven (Rabbi Menachem, Commentary on Fifth Book).”

Phariseeism Is Talmudism

“Phariseeism became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval Rabbinism, and Medieval Rabbinism became modern Rabbinism. Both throughout these changes in name …the spirit of the ancient Pharisees survives, unaltered (Pharisees, the Sociological Background of Their Faith, Louis Finkelstein, p.21).”

“The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without break, through all the centuries, from the Pharisees …The Talmud is the largest and most important single member of that literature …and the study of it is essential for any real understanding of Phariseeism (Universal Jewish Encyclopedia under Pharisees).”

What was the doctrine of the Pharisees that would demand in the days of Christ that Gentiles secretly be called the serpent’s seed? What is contained in the Talmud that would give us some hint of the serpent seed doctrine?

Frightening Quotes From The Talmud

“Jehovah created the non-Jew in human form so that the Jew would have to be served by beasts. The non-Jew is consequently an animal in human form, and condemned to serve the Jew day and night (Talmud, Midrasch Talpiothe).”

“When the serpent copulated with Eve he infused her with lust. The lust of the Israelites who stood at Mount Sinai came to an end, the lust of idolaters who did not stand at Mount Sinai DID NOT COME TO AN END (Talmud, Yehamoth 103a-103b [see above]).”

The Jews believe that anyone who can not trace an ancestor through Israel to Mount Sinai, is a part of that serpent seed. This serpent seed is identified throughout Talmudic teachings without further identity as “idolaters.” In the Talmud, Christians are called “beasts” and “idolaters.” (Case Of The Nazarene Reopened, Hyman E. Goldin, pp 423, 431-432, 775, & 781). This derogatory racism and bigotry identifies Christians as the serpent’s seed.

R. Eleasar further stated: “What is meant by the Scripture text, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh?’ This teaches that Adam had intercourse with every beast and animal but found no satisfaction until he cohabited with Eve (Talmud, Yebamoth, 63a).”

Now it is alleged that Adam and Eve were given permission by God to freely “eat” [have connection] with these non-human beasts, but told not to “eat” or have connection with the beast that was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

This means God approved sex with animals, adultery and or free love.

Speaking of a Jewish woman who might “freely” have connection with a Gentile, and the Gentile, who according to this doctrine is called a beast (animal), Rabbi Shimi ben Hiyya said: “A woman who had intercourse with a beast is eligible to marry a priest [footnote: Even a High Priest]. The result of such intercourse being regarded as a mere wound, and the opinion that does not regard an accidentally injured hymen as a disqualification does not so regard such an intercourse either (Talmud, Yebamoth, 59b).”

The Zohar teaches that the serpent, called Samael, had sexual relations with Eve, thus defiling her. Then Eve in turn defiled Adam in the same way (this is the basis of gnosticism).

The Zohar also teaches that the serpent [who is also said to be a god] was the father of Cain. Why did William Branham preach the Babylonian Zohar and not the Bible?

Kabbalah-Cabalah Apostasy

The Cabalah is the Talmudic Babylonian mystical system, containing the teaching of the ten Sefiroths. These are ten steps of sexual perfection reaching from the divine into the lower material world and from the material world reaching up through ten levels of sexual perfection to the divine.

Many Jews believe that God is in perfect sexual union with the Malkuth or Kingdom of Israel, when they celebrate the Sabbath. Because of this, it is customary among the orthodox Jews for a man to cheer up his wife on the Sabbath in commemoration of God cheering up his Shekinah …Israel, being in conjugal union also on the Sabbath. Christian Sabbath keepers?

“To have God’s name upon them, they teach, they must fulfill their “sacred” duty to have offspring, for that is their first step to perfection. Only through sex can they climb the ten-runged ladder of the “tree of life” to the perfection of the Shekinah, that is the state of perfect liberty in sexual expression.”(Stephen Jones, The Babylonian Connection p. 144 the word “Shekinah” has sexual overtones).”

“Christians often use the term Shekinah to describe the glory of God or the fire of this presence. The word is not found in the Bible, but it comes from a Hebrew word shakan ["to dwell"],and the Jews relate it to shakab ["to lie down sexually"]. Thus in Judaism those who learn the perfect methods of performing the sex act attain the glory of the Shekinah (ibid), like in the song–*You Light Up My Life*.”

Destroying Christians Through Sin

In the doctrines of Jewish Cabalah messianism, the belief is that Israel as the Shekinah has been separated from God because of her sins [spiritual adultery]. Because of Israel’s sins it is believed by Cabalist that the light of Israel resident in the Shekinah has turned to darkness. Each righteous Jew was thought to possess a spark of the Shekinah. Collectively, these sparks were manifested as a flame of fire over the mercy seat in the holy of hollies. They claim the divine sparks indwelling in the Shekinah departed from the Jews because they departed from righteousness. Some believe this divine presence came over into the New Testament Church as witnessed by the “TONGUES OF FIRE THAT SAT UPON EACH OF THEM” (Acts 2: 3).

In the Isaac Luria secret doctrines of Cabalism, each Gentile Christian who now has the Holy Ghost and one of those alleged righteous sparks, is like a shell imprisoning a part of Israel’s future destiny. THEY BELIEVE THESE SHELLS MUST BE BROKEN SO THE SPARK CAN ESCAPE. That is, the Gentile Christians must be made to become wicked and evil and depart from righteousness, so the divine sparks will forsake them as they did the first Jews, and then return to Israel again. It is believed by these Cabalists, that when Israel turns to righteousness [Talmudic Pharisee Judaism], and the Gentile Christians are fully led into the abyss of wickedness [liberalism], by the cult of the all seeing eye, Jacob Frank’s secret “Sabbatians,” (Rabbi Marvin S. Antelman, To Eliminate The Opiate, Vol. 1, p 130), then Rome [Talmudist label all Christians figuratively as Rome], will be destroyed (The coming great blood-bath by the whore). Talmudist believe their Messiah will come and do this BEFORE setting up the millennial communistic utopia.

Talmud, Abadian: “When Rome is destroyed Israel will be redeemed.”

Rome here is figurative of all Christian groups and people.

Also, Talmud, Zohar 1,219b: “Captivity of Jews ends when Christian Princes die.”

Christian Princes here are the Ministers of Jesus Messiah. The coming world-persecution (the great blood-bath) by antichrist, will perform this task (a trial-run was carried out under Communism in Russian and China).

The Talmud teaches that Israel cannot be fully redeemed until Christianity as Jesus established it is destroyed. Is this not the Great Whore of Revelation 17 & 18 identified. And Jerusalem sits on seven mountains. The Beast and Antichrist, find their fulfillment here, where the “head” (mountain; Mount Moriah), had a wound by a sword (70AD), and yet did live (1948).

Talmud, Sepher or Israel 177b: “If a Jew kills a Christian he commits no sin.” And they killed thousands in their own tribes in the first seventy years of the Church, for which there has been no apology and no holocaust museums to show-off the antichrist bigotry and hatred against their King and killing their own people. From the Temple went forth orders and permission to bounty hunters to seek out, persecute, and kill the elect of Messiah. After killing Stephen, James, and many hundreds more, these would resort to the Temple at Mount Moriah to flatter God by offering up animal sacrifices to show they rejected the bastard blood of Jesus for salvation (the Apostle Paul was one of these hired bounty hunters).

The Arabs are not the only ones with zealots who will kill and are killed. Jewish zealots are taught the Talmudic promise that they will go straight to heaven when they die after killing Christians or bad Jews. These zealots were called the *Iscarri* and worked out of the Temple through secret underground passages and from Masada. Judas joined in this group of zealots in the Temple as a *new* Iscarri assassin which is why he is called *Judas Iscarriot* (see Josephus Wars: VII, Chapter VIII). This very mentality was carried out against the Apostles and first Church for nearly a hundred years. It will be the authority of the great blood-bath that is coming that fills up the whore’s cup of judgment:

Revelation 6:11–And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until other Christians also and other Ministers, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled (BJV).

Jewish and Gentile Christians opposing this Babylonian new world order, will be marked as Jew haters; antisemites; arrested for alleged hate crimes; lose their jobs, homes and property; be put in prison; and some will be killed. It is not if, ………but WHEN? The Iscarri will arise again under some new name but whose purpose and plans are the same: blot out Jesus Messiah and all who follow him!

The United Nations, American FBI/ATF/Rome & Constantinople, Protestantism, Islam, and ALL religious denominations, the Masonic Lodge, the Anti-Defamation League, the Rosicrucians, Jesuits, Knights of Columbus, Eastern Star women, and other cults and groups, will assist in the great Iscarri blood-bath. The coming Antichrist will be the supreme Iscarri as he sits in the grand *lodge* and then in the Temple in Jerusalem as God, and orders the deaths of millions who refuse to take an anti-Jesus mark. Antichrist and hatred against Messiah and the Saints will increase. Now is the time, not later, to come out of their false doctrines and teachings and be the people of Messiah. If not now, …WHEN?

Click *Read More* to study about the Talmud and its blasphemy against Jesus and Christians

Click here to read more about 666 and the coming world antichrist system


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The Talmud Part I – Jesus Messiah

What is the Jewish Talmud? – CompellingTruth.org

The collections of extra-biblical Jewish religious writings are often confusing to read and categorize for modern readers, especially those who own a Western mindset or Christian background. The Talmud could be most concisely described as a collection of collections. These collections are of oral laws based on the Torah, or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament or Tanakh, and of commentary on and additional material relating to those oral laws.

There are four important Hebrew terms used in this discussion: – Mishnah (written record of the oral law) – Gemara (commentaries on the Mishnah) – Halakha (detailed legal discussions based on the Mishnah) – Talmud (the overarching document containing the previous three)

Some parts of the Talmud began developing hundreds of years before the birth of Messiah. Oral laws which expanded upon the Torah were passed down from rabbi to rabbi as a way to ensure that the Law was followed as closely as possible. In theory because of the serious lack of well-educated rabbis alive at the time, Rabbi Judah the Prince chose to write down these oral codes, called the Mishnah, around AD 200. Not only did Rabbi Judah record these rules and commentaries, but he arranged them systematically into six different sections and 63 subsections called “tractates.” This introduced a vast difference in the study of the Torah, for never had a rabbi been able to look up in one place everything said in the Torah, along with oral laws, on one subject.

Around AD 400 Jewish rabbis in Palestine edited together the many commentaries, called Gemara, and legal discussions, called Halakha, which had since been made about the Mishnah. This document is known as the Jerusalem Talmud. Over 100 years later, rabbis in Babylon compiled and edited these documents as well, creating the Babylonian Talmud. This later document, containing more and what are generally held to be more advanced commentaries on the Mishnah, is almost exclusively used for study by Jewish rabbis and scholars today. If “The Talmud” is referenced, one may assume the Babylonian Talmud is intended.

It should be noted that the term “Talmud” is sometimes, or even often in some circles, used in place of “Gemara” and therefore placed in parallel with the Mishnah. This is not technically correct, but is somewhat pervasive, and must be determined by context.

From the perspective of Followers of Jesus, the Talmud and its various parts are of value in understanding how the Torah was and is interpreted, and is invaluable in understanding post-temple Judaism. This compilation is the heart and soul of Jewish life and thought today. However, it does not acknowledge or provide the hope of Jesus, Messiah. We welcome our Jewish friends to accept the beautiful fulfillment of the Torah and Tanakh which they have taken such enormous care to understand. Jesus came to fulfill the Law of Moses, to free us from this impossible task-master, and bring us into full relationship with the God who has cared for and pursued Israel for so long. To understand this fulfillment further, we recommend reading Acts 7 and the book of Hebrews. This site also has information which you may find helpful as you explore Jesus as Messiah.

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What is the Jewish Talmud? – CompellingTruth.org

- Torah Readings for this week

Parashat Pekudei ( ) is the final portion of Sefer Shemot, or the Book of Exodus. It begins with Moses’ accounting of all the materials that were donated for the construction of the Mishkan (i.e., Tabernacle). Moses first recorded the inventory of the different building materials and furnishings, and then he carefully checked the special priestly garments. After all the work was confirmed to be in complete accordance with the LORD’s instructions, Moses blessed the people.

The LORD then commanded Moses to assemble the Mishkan on “the first month in the second year [from the date of the Exodus], on the first day of the month” (i.e., on Nisan 1, or Rosh Chodashim, Exod. 40:17). Since Moses gave the commandment to begin building the Tabernacle on the day after Yom Kippur (i.e., Tishri 11), this implies that it took less than six months for Betzalel and his team to create the Tabernacle and all its furnishings.

Once the Tabernacle was completed and all its vessels were accounted for and inspected, Moses anointed all its components with the sacred anointing oil, called shemen ha-mishchah (note that the word “mishchah” () comes from the same root as “Messiah” (), indicating that the Mishkan (i.e., Tabernacle) would foreshadow God’s plan of redemption given in Yeshua). Moses then formally initiated Aaron and his four sons into the priesthood, marking their hands and feet with sacrificial blood and “waving them” before the Lord to picture resurrection. The Divine Presence – manifest as the Shekhinah Cloud of Glory then filled the Holy of Holies in the Tent of Meeting.

The Book of Exodus ends: “And Moses was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the Glory of the LORD ( ) filled the Mishkan (). Throughout all their journeys, whenever the Cloud was taken up from over the Mishkan, the people of Israel would set out. But if the Cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the Cloud of the LORD ( ) was on the Mishkan by day, and Fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys” (Exod. 30:35-38).

The Presence of the Glory of God that descended from Sinai upon the newly dedicated Mishkan represented a climactic moment for the fledgling nation, since the Sin of the Golden Calf had jeopardized whether the God would indeed dwell within the midst of the camp of Israel… Recall that it was only after Moses had returned from Sinai bearing the second set of Tablets (on Yom Kippur) that the glow of the LORD’s redeeming love radiated from his face, and new hope was given to Israel (prefiguring the New Covenant). The King of Glory would accompany the people from Sinai to the Promised Land! (The narrative continues in the Book of Numbers, beginning exactly one month after the Mishkan was assembled.)

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- Torah Readings for this week

Torah – Ancient History Encyclopedia

The Torah, also known as the Pentateuch (from the Greek for five books), is the first collection of texts in the Hebrew Bible. It deals with the origins of not only the Israelites, but also the entire world. Though traditionally the Hebrew word torah has been translated into English as law because of its translation in the Septuagint (the Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible) as nomos (law), it is better understood and translated as teaching or instruction. The Torah is the result of a long process of editing (or redaction, as it is called by scholars). This means that there is no one date that one can be pointed to as the date of composition. Most scholars think that the final major redactions took place after 539 BCE, when Cyrus the Great conquered the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The Torah was, and continues to be, the central set of sacred texts (scriptures) for Judaism because of its focus on the proper ways (ritually, ethically, theologically, etc.) for the tribes of Israel to live, though how exactly one is to live out the Torah was, and continues to be, a complicated issue.

The Torah is composed of five books which present us with a complete narrative, from creation to the death of Moses on the banks of the Jordan River. The question of the relationship between history and the narratives of the Torah is complex. While the Torah mentions historical places (e.g. Ur in Genesis 11) and historical figures (e.g. Pharaoh in Exodus 1, perhaps Ramses II), we have no archaeological or other textual record of the specific events or the key players (e.g. Moses) described.

The Torah is comprised of five books which present us with a complete narrative, from creation to the death of Moses on the banks of the Jordan River.


Genesis is broken up into four literary movements. The first movement is known as the primeval history, which tells the story of the world from creation up to the call of Abraham. The second movement is the Abraham cycle, chapters 12.1-25.18, which tells the story of Abraham from his call to his death. The third movement, chapters 25.19-36.43, is the Jacob cycle which tells the story of Jacob from his birth up to the dreams of his son Joseph. The fourth movement, chapters 37-50, is the Joseph cycle which tells the story of Joseph and his brothers. The narrative of Genesis begins with the creation of the world, but with each movement the narrative becomes more focused. It moves from focusing on the entire created order, to humanity, to focusing on a specific family (that of Abraham), to focusing one of Abarahams sons (Jacob/Israel), and culminating in the creation of the tribe of Israel and the presence of Israelites in Egypt.


Exodus can be broken up into three general sections: the liberation from Egypt (chapters 1.1-15.21), the giving of the Law to Moses on Sinai (15.22-31.18), and the start of the 40 year (one generation) desert wandering (32-40).


In contrast to the rest of the Torah, Leviticus contains very little narrative material, but is dependent upon the narrative of Exodus. The material of the P source (see below) in Exodus primarily describes the construction of the cultic implements (e.g. the Ark of the Covenant). In Leviticus the focus is on the enactment of the cult, particularly the role of the Levites, which is to teach the distinction between the holy and the common, and between the clean and unclean (Lev 1.10; 15.31, NRSV).


There are two ways to understand the structure of Numbers. First, one can view its structure as geographic, with each section corresponding to a particular location in the desert wandering: Wilderness of Sinai (1.1-10.10), the land east of the Jordan River, also known as “Transjordan” (10.11-22.1), and the land of Moab (22.2-36.13). However there are two key events which can also be used to understand the structure of the book, the two military censuses of chapters 1 and 26.


Deuteronomy gets its English name from the Greek word deuteronomion (second law), which is a poor translation of the Hebrew phrase mishneh hattorah hazzot (a copy of this law) in Deuteronomy 17.18. It is also the only book of the Torah to make specific claims for Mosaic authorship.

Four editorial superscriptions make the structure of Deuteronomy clear. Part 1 (1.1-4.43) is primarily Moses reflecting on the story of the Israelites from Sinai (or Horeb as it is called in Deuteronomy) to Transjordan and a discussion on the destiny of Gods people. Part 2 (4.44-28.68) is the key part of the book as it contains the giving of the Torah (the authoritative teaching and instruction) dictating how Israel is to live (ethically, cultically, politically, socially, etc.) if it wants to secure its political existence. Part 3 (29-32) contains a covenant Moses makes with Israel and relates the commissioning of Joshua. Part 4 (33-34) concludes with blessing of the tribes of Israel, and a narrative about the death and burial of Moses. Deuteronomy, and as such the Torah, concludes with the people of Israel poised to enter the promised land.

Traditionally, it was largely assumed (by Jews and Christians alike) that Moses was the author of the Torah. However, in the 17th century CE, this assumption began to be challenged. In the 19th century CE, German scholar Julius Wellhausen put forth the first major formulation of what is known as the Documentary Hypothesis in his Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels (first published in German in 1878 CE, and in English as Prolegomena to the History of Israel in 1885 CE). Since then, the Documentary Hypothesis has undergone significant revision and among many scholars, particularly those in North America, it remains the dominant theory for explaining the composition of the Torah.

Simply put, this theory states that the whole of the Torah is comprised of four main sources: J (Yahwist), E (Elohist), D (Deuteronomistic), and P (Priestly). It is most likely that these sources are not texts, but particular groups of individuals who were initially responsible for the composition and transmission of the souces (as oral traditions and/or written compositions) which were later incorporated into the Torah by the P source. Scholars use “source” in a very general way in this context to allow for the ambiguity of what these “sources” were.

The J source earns its name from the fact that it prefers the Tetragrammaton (The four letters), YWHW (usually pronounced as yahweh, though this pronunciation is debated), for the name of the god of Israel. The reason that it is the “J” source and not the “Y” source is that the theory was first put forth in Germany, where YHWH is spelled with a J rather than a “Y.” YHWH is made to appear very human (e.g. YHWH is said to walk with humans [see Genesis 2]), the characters of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not idealized in the narrative, and morality is not absolute. Further, it is the nation of Judah which is emphasized. This source is traditionally dated between 1000 BCE and 900 BCE, which possibly is contemporaneous with the courts of David and Solomon.

Like J, the E source gets its name from its preferred name for the god of Israel. It uses the generic Hebrew word elohim, which can mean gods, god, (as generic terms for other deities), or as God (referring specifically to the god of Israel). In contrast to J, E emphasizes the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Instead of directly speaking to humanity, the E source had God speaking directly to Abraham. This source is usually dated in the 8th or 9th centuries BCE and was likely an import from the Northern Kingdom of Israel. E and J were likely edited together at a point before the exilic period with J being the primary source with E edited in. Therefore, some scholars treat J and E as one source (calling it the JE source) or leave out E altogether.

D, or the Deuteronomist, is most likely a school of scribal reformers from around the time of Josiah, c. 621 BCE, a king of the Kingdom of Judah. D is responsible for the book of Deuteronomy and little else in the Torah. However, it is likely responsible (as authors and/or editors) for the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings (known as the Deutronomistic History) as well as editor of Jeremiah and sections of the Book of the Twelve (Hosea-Malachi). D is characterized by absolute morality, worship centered in the Jerusalem Temple, and the cycle of sin and repentance. It is possible that some form of what we know as Deuteronomy was found by Josiahs High Priest as recorded in 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34.

P, or the Priestly Source, is the most easily identified of the three sources responsible for Genesis Numbers. This source is characterized by outlines, order, genealogy, and ritual and sacrifice. Like J, P focuses on Judah. Whereas JE is clearly narrative, P contains both narrative (such as the creation account in Genesis 1 and the flood narrative of Genesis 68) and ritual material (such as the Holiness Code of Leviticus 1726). This makes it very difficult to characterize the genre of P. It is usually thought to be the last of the four sources to compose and redact the Torah, likely active sometime during the Persian period 539 – c. 330 BCE.

The Documentary Hypothesis is not without its problems. It has long been recognized that E lacks a clear narrative flow. If it was ever an independent source, it was long absorbed into J. For this reason, scholars are moving to talking about JE rather than J and E. Like E, it is difficult to identify a continuous J narrative running through the whole of the Torah.

Further, despite being the only source which can be readily identified running through the whole Torah, it seems that P is not really an independent source, but was intentionally composed so as to fit into the narrative material of J and E. Narrative disconnects between Genesis and Exodus make a continuous source running from Genesis to Numbers unlikely. For example, only a few verses (Genesis 50.14, 24; Exodus 1.8-7) superficially account for the transition from Joseph as the second most powerful person in Egypt to being unknown by the pharaoh, and the Israelites as nomads in Canaan to slaves in Egypt. Also, only a single passage in Genesis (15.13-16) gives any indication that the Israelites will have to leave Canaan first, and then return to the promised land.

In light of these issues, among European scholars there is a general move away from the traditional understanding of the Documentary Hypothesis, to understanding Genesis and the Moses story (Exodus and following) to be two competing origin narratives which were later edited together by the P source. They still see J and E (or JE) in Genesis, but do not think that J or E are complete sources running through the whole of the Torah. P is still seen as the final redactor and D is still responsible for the Deuteronomistic History.

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Torah – Ancient History Encyclopedia

Conservative Judaism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Conservative Judaism (known as Masorti Judaism outside North America) is a major confessional division within Judaism, which views Religious Law, or Halakha, as both binding and subject to historical development. The movement considers its approach to Law as the authentic and most appropriate continuation of halakhic discourse, maintaining both fealty to received forms and flexibility in their interpretation.

While regarding itself as the heir of Rabbi Zecharias Frankel’s 19th-century Positive-Historical School in Europe, Conservative Judaism became a wholly independent denomination only at the United States during the mid-20th century. Its largest center today is in North America, where its main congregational arm is the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the New York-based Jewish Theological Seminary of America operates as rabbinic seminary. Worldwide, affiliated communities are united within the umbrella organization Masorti Olami. Conservative Judaism represents close to 1,100,000 people, both registered congregants and non-member identifiers.

Conservative Judaism, from its earliest stages, was marked by ambivalence and ambiguity in all matters theological. Rabbi Zecharias Frankel, considered its intellectual progenitor, believed the very notion of theology was alien to traditional Judaism. He was often accused of obscurity on the subject by his opponents, both Reform and Orthodox. The American movement mostly maintained a similar approach, and its key leaders generally avoided the field. Only in 1985 did a course about Conservative theology open in the JTS. The hitherto sole major attempt to define a clear credo was made in 1988, with the Statement of Principles Emet ve-Emunah (Truth and Belief), formulated and issued by the Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism. The introduction stated that “lack of definition was useful” in the past but a need to articulate one now arose. The platform provided many statements citing key concepts such as God, revelation and Election, but also acknowledged that a variety of positions and convictions existed within denominational ranks, eschewing strict delineation of principles and often expressing conflicting views.[1][2][3][4] In a 1999 special edition of Conservative Judaism dedicated to the matter, leading rabbis Elliot N. Dorff and Gordon Tucker clarified that “the great diversity” within the movement “makes the creation of a theological vision shared by all neither possible nor desirable.”[5]

Conservative Judaism largely upholds the theistic notion of a personal God. Emet ve-Emunah stated that “we affirm our faith in God as the Creator and Governor of the universe. His power called the world into being; His wisdom and goodness guide its destiny.” Concurrently, the platform also noted that His nature was “elusive” and subject to many options of belief. A naturalistic conception of divinity, regarding it as inseparable from the mundane world, once had an important place within the denomination, especially represented by Mordecai Kaplan. After Kaplan’s Reconstructionism fully coalesced into an independent movement, these views were marginalized.[6]

A similarly inconclusive position is expressed toward other precepts. Most theologians adhere to the Immortality of the Soul, but while references to the Resurrection of the Dead are maintained, English translation of the prayers obscures the issue. In Emet, it was stated that death is not tantamount to the end of one’s personality. Relating to the Messianic ideal, the movement rephrased most petitions for the restoration of the Sacrifices into past tense, regarding animal offering (though not a Return to Zion and even a new Temple) as desirable no more. The 1988 platform announced that “some” believe in classic eschathology, but dogmatism in this matter was “philosophically unjustified.” The notions of Election of Israel and God’s covenant with it were basically retained as well.[7]

Conservative conception of Revelation encompasses an extensive spectrum. Zecharias Frankel himself applied critical-scientific methods to analyze the stages in the development of the Oral Torah, pioneering modern study of the Mishnah. He regarded the Beatified Sages as innovators who added their own, original contribution to the canon, not merely as expounders and interpreters of a legal system given in its entirety to Moses on Mount Sinai. Yet he also vehemently rejected utilizing these disciplines on the Pentateuch, maintaining it was beyond human reach and wholly celestial in origin. Frankel never elucidated his beliefs, and the exact correlation between human and divine in his thought is still subject to scholarly debate.[8] A similar negative approach toward Higher Criticism, while accepting an evolutionary understanding of Oral Law, defined Rabbi Alexander Kohut, Solomon Schechter and the early generation of American Conservative Judaism. When JTS faculty began to embrace Biblical criticism in the 1920s, they adapted a theological view consistent with it: an original, verbal revelation did occur in Sinai, but the text itself was composed by later authors. The latter, classified by Dorff as a relatively moderate metamorphosis of the old one, is still espoused by few traditionalist right-wing Conservative rabbis, though it is marginalized among senior leadership.[2][9]

A small but influential segment within the JTS and the movement adhered, from the 1930s, to Moredcai Kaplan’s philosophy that denied any form of revelation but viewed all scripture as a purely human product. Along with other Reconstructionist tenets, it dwindled as the latter consolidated into a separate group. Kaplan’s views and the permeation of Higher Criticism gradually swayed most Conservative thinkers towards a non-verbal understanding of theophany, which has become dominant in the 1970s. This was en sync with the wider trend of lowering rates of Americans who accepted the Bible as the Word of God.[2][10] Dorff categorized the proponents of this into two schools: one maintains that God projected some form of message which inspired the human authors of the Pentateuch to record what they perceived; the other, often strongly influenced by the philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig and other existentialists but also attractive to many Objectivist theologians who elevate human reason and self-consciousness as the foundation of religion, state that God conferred merely his presence on those he influenced, without any communication, and the experience drove them to spiritual creativity. While they differ in the theoretical level surrounding revelation, both practically regard all scripture and religious tradition as a human product with certain divine inspiration providing an understanding that recognizes Biblical Criticism and also justifies major innovation in religious conduct. The former doctrine, advocated by such leaders as rabbis Ben-Zion Bokser and Robert Gordis, largely imparted that some elements within Judaism are fully divine but determining which would be impractical, and therefore received forms of interpretation should be basically upheld. Exponents of the latter view, among them rabbi Louis Jacobs and Neil Gillman, also emphasized the encounter of God with the Jews as a collective and the role of religious authorities through the generations in determining what it implied. The stress on the supremacy of community and tradition, rather than individual consciousness, defines the entire spectrum of Conservative thought.[11]

The Conservative mainstay was the adoption of the historical-critical method in understanding Judaism and setting its future course. In accepting an evolutionary approach to the religion, as something that developed over time and absorbed considerable external influences, the movement distinguished between the original meaning implied in traditional sources and the manner they were grasped by successive generations, rejecting belief in an unbroken chain of interpretation from God’s original Revelation, immune to any major extraneous effects. This evolutionary perception of religion, while relatively moderate in comparison with more radical modernizers the scholarship of the Positive-Historical school, for example, sought to demonstrate the continuity and cohesiveness of Judaism along the years still challenged Conservative leaders.

They regarded tradition and received mores with reverence, especially the continued adherence to the mechanism of Religious Law (Halakha), opposing indiscriminate modification, and emphasized they should be changed only with care and caution, and remain observed by the people. Rabbi Louis Ginzberg, summarizing his movement’s position, wrote: We may now understand the apparent contradiction between the theory and practice… One may conceive of the origin of Sabbath as the professor at university would, yet observe the smallest detail known to strict Orthodoxy… The sanctity of the Sabbath reposes not upon the fact that it was proclaimed on Sinai, but on the fact that it found for thousands of years its expression in Jewish souls. It is the task of the historian to examine into the beginnings and developments of customs and observances; practical Judaism on the other hand is not concerned with origins, but regards the institutions as they have come to be. This discrepancy between scientific criticism and insistence on heritage had to be compensated by a conviction that would forestall deviation from accepted norms or laxity and apathy.[12]

A key doctrine which was to fulfill this capacity was collective will of the Jewish people. Conservatives lent it great weight in determining religious practice, both in historical precedent and as a means to shape present conduct. Zecharias Frankel pioneered this approach; as Michael A. Meyer commented, “the extraordinary status which he ascribed to the ingrained beliefs and practices of the community is probably the most original element of his thought.” He turned it into a source of legitimacy for both change and preservation, but mostly the latter. The basic moderation and traditionalism of most people were to guarantee a sense of continuity and unity, restraining the guiding rabbis and scholars who at his age were intent on reform, but also allowing them maneuverability in adopting or discarding certain elements.[8]Solomon Schechter held a similar position. He turned the old rabbinic concept of K’lal Yisrael, which he translated as “Catholic Israel”, into a comprehensive worldview. For him, the details of divine Revelation were of secondary significance, as historical change dictated its interpretation through the ages notwithstanding: “the center of authority is actually removed from the Bible”, he surmised, “and placed in some living body… in touch with the ideal aspirations and the religious needs of the age, best able to determine… This living body, however, is not represented by… priesthood, or Rabbihood, but by the collective conscience of Catholic Israel.”[13]

The scope, limits and role of this corpus were a matter for contention in Conservative ranks. Schechter himself used it to oppose any major break with either traditionalist or progressive elements within American Jewry of his day, while some of his successors argued that the idea became obsolete due to the great alienation of many from received forms, that had to be countered by innovative measures to draw them back. The Conservative rabbinate often vacillated on to which degree the non-practicing, religiously apathetic strata could be included as a factor within Catholic Israel, providing impulse for them in determining religious questions; even avant-garde leaders acquiesced that the majority could not serve that function. Right-wing critics often charged that the movement allowed its uncommitted laity an exaggerated role, conceding to its demands and successively stretching halakhic boundaries beyond any limit.[14]

The Conservative leadership had limited success in imparting their worldview to its general public. While the rabbinate perceived itself as bearing a unique, original conception of Judaism, the masses lacked much interest, regarding it mainly as a compromise offering a channel for religious identification that was more traditional than Reform Judaism yet less strict than Orthodoxy. Only a low percentage of Conservative congregants actively pursue an observant lifestyle: in the mid-1980s, Charles Liebman and Daniel J. Elazar calculated that barely 3%-4% held to one quite thoroughly. This gap between principle and the public, more pronounced than in any other Jewish denomination, is often credited at explaining the decline of the Conservative movement. While some 41% of American Jews identified with it in the 1970s, it had shrunk to an estimated 18% (and 11% among those under 30) in 2013.[15]

Fidelity and commitment to Halakha, while subject to criticism as disingenuous both from within and without, were and remain a cornerstone doctrine of Conservative Judaism:[16] The movement views the legalistic system as normative and binding, and believes Jews must practically observe its precepts, like Sabbath, dietary ordinances, ritual purity, daily prayer with phylacteries and the like. Concurrently, examining Jewish history and rabbinic literature through the lens of academic criticism, it maintained that these laws were always subject to considerable evolution, and must continue to do so. Emet ve-Emunah titled its chapter on the subject with “The Indispensability of Halakha”, stating that “Halakha in its developing form is an indispensable element of a traditional Judaism which is vital and modern.” Conservative Judaism regards itself as the authentic inheritor of a flexible legalistic tradition, charging the Orthodox with petrifying the process and Reform with abandoning it.

The tension between “tradition and change” which were also the motto adopted by the movement since the 1950s and the need to balance them were always a topic of intense debate within Conservative Judaism. In its early stages, the leadership opposed pronounced innovation, mostly adopting a relatively rigid position. Mordecai Kaplan’s Reconstructionism raised the demand for thoroughgoing modification without much regard for the past or halakhic considerations, but senior rabbis opposed him vigorously. Even in the 1940s and 1950s, when Kaplan’s influence grew, his superiors rabbis Ginzberg, Louis Finkelstein and Saul Lieberman espoused a very conservative line. Since the 1970s, with the strengthening of the liberal wing within the denomination, the majority in the Rabbinic Assembly opted for quite radical reformulations in religious conduct, but rejected the Reconstructionist non-halakhic approach, insisting that the legalistic method be maintained.[17] The halakhic commitment of Conservative Judaism has been subject to much criticism, from within and without. Right-wing discontents, including the Union for Traditional Judaism which seceded in protest of the 1983 resolution to ordain women rabbis adopted at an open vote, where all JTS faculty regardless of qualification were counted contested the validity of this description, as well as progressives like Rabbi Neil Gillman, who exhorted the denomination to cease describing itself as halakhic in 2005, stating that after repeated concessions, “our original claim has died a death by a thousand qualifications… It has lost all factual meaning.”[18]

The main body entrusted with formulating rulings, responsa and statues is the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, a panel with 25 voting legalistic specialists and further 11 observers. There is also the smaller Va’ad ha-Halakha (Law Committee) of Israel’s Masorti Movement. Every responsa must receive a minimum of six voters to be considered an official position of the CJLS. Conservative Judaism explicitly acknowledges the principle of halachik pluralism, enabling the panel to adopt more than one resolution in any given subject. The final authority in each Conservative community is the local rabbi, the mara d’atra (Lord of the Locality, in traditional terms), enfranchised to adopt either minority or majority opinions from the CJLS or maintain local practice. Thus, on the issue of admitting openly Homosexual rabbinic candidates, the Committee approved two resolutions, one in favour and one against; the JTS took the lenient position, while the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano still adheres to the latter. Likewise, while most Conservative synagogues approved of egalitarianism for women in religious life, some still maintain traditional gender roles and do not count females for prayer quorums.

The Conservative treatment of the legalistic topic is defined by several features, though the entire range of denominational Halakhic discourse cannot be sharply distinguished from either the traditional or Orthodox one. Rabbi David Golinkin, who attempted to classify its parameters, stressed that quite often rulings merely reiterate conclusions reached in older sources or even Orthodox ones. for example, in the details of preparing Sabbath ritual enclosures, it draws directly on the opinions of the Shulchan Aruch and Rabbi Hayim David HaLevi. Another tendency prevalent among the movement’s rabbis, yet again not particular to it, is the adoption of the more lenient positions on the matters at question though this is not universal, and responsa also took stringent ones not infrequently.[19]

A more distinctive characterization is a greater proclivity to base rulings on earlier sources, in the Rishonim or before them, as far back as the Talmud. Conservative decisors frequently resort to less canonical citations, isolated responsa or minority opinions. They demonstrate more fluidity in regards to established precedent and continuum in rabbinic literature, mainly by later authorities, and lay little stress on the perceived hierarchy between major and minor legalists of the past. They are far more inclined to contend (machloket) with old rulings, to be flexible towards custom or to wholly disregard it. This is especially expressed in less hesitancy to rule against or notwithstanding the major codifications of Jewish Law, like Mishne Torah, Arba’ah Turim and especially the Shulchan Aruch with its Isserles Gloss and later commentaries. Conservative authorities, while often relying on the latter code themselves, criticize the Orthodox for relatively rarely venturing beyond it and overly canonizing Rabbi Joseph Karo’s work. In several occasions, Conservative rabbis discerned that the Shulchan Aruch ruled without firm precedent, sometimes deriving his conclusions from the Kabbalah. An important example is the ruling of Rabbi Golinkin contrary to the majority consensus among the Acharonim and the more prominent Rishonim but based on many opinions from the latter, derived from a minority view in the Talmud that the Sabbatical Year is not obligatory in present times but rather an act of piety.[20]

Ethical considerations and the weight due to them in determining halakhic issues, mainly to what degree may modern sensibilities shape the outcome, are subject to much discourse. Right-wing decisors, like Rabbi Joel Roth, maintained that such elements are naturally a factor in formulating conclusions, but may not alone serve as a justification for adopting a position. The majority, however, basically subscribed to the opinion evinced already by Rabbi Seymour Siegel in the 1960s, that the cultural and ethical norms of the community, the contemporary equivalents of Talmudic Aggadah, should supersede the legalistic forms when the two came into conflict and there was a pivotal ethical concern. Rabbi Elliot Dorff concluded that in contrast to the Orthodox, the denomination maintains that the juridical details and processes mainly serve higher moral purposes and could be modified if they no longer do so: “in other words, the Aggadah should control the Halakha.” The liberal Rabbi Gordon Tucker, along with Gillman and other progressives, supported a far-reaching implementation of this approach, making Conservative Judaism much more Aggadic and allowing moral priorities an overriding authority at all occasions. This idea became very popular among the young generation among the Conservative rabbinate. Though Roth who, along with his supporters, severely criticized the former approach as non-halakhic remained almost the sole traditionalist in the higher echelons prior to his resignation from the CJLS, neither was Tucker’s philosophy fully embraced, though it made much inroads. In the 2006 resolution on homosexuals, the majority chose a middle path: they agreed that the ethical consideration of human dignity was of supreme importance, but not sufficient to uproot the express Biblical prohibition on not to lie with mankind as with womankind (traditionally understood as banning full anal intercourse). All other limitations, including on other forms of sexual relations, were lifted.[21] A similar approach is manifest in the great weight ascribed to sociological changes in deciding religious policy. The CJLS and the Rabbinical Assembly members frequently state that circumstances were profoundly transformed in modern times, fulfilling the criteria mandating new rulings in various fields (based on general talmudic principles like Shinui ha-I’ttim, “Change of Times”). This, along with the ethical aspect, was a main argument for revolutionizing the role of women in religious life and embracing egalitarianism in most functions.

The most distinctive feature of Conservative legalistic discourse is its incorporation of critical-scientific methods into the process. Deliberations almost always delineate the historical development of the specific issue at hand, from the earliest known mentions until modern times. This approach enables a thorough analysis of the manner in which it was practiced, accepted, rejected or modified in various periods, not necessarily en sync with the received rabbinic understanding. Decisors are also far more prone to include references to external scientific sources in relevant fields, like veterinarian publication in halakhic matters concerning livestock. In addition to those predilections, the aspect in which Conservative Judaism is conspicuously and sharply different from its Orthodox counterpart is the employment of archaeology, philology and Judaic Studies in general while reaching legalistic conclusions. Rabbis use comparative compendiums of religious manuscripts, sometimes discerning that sentences in the Mishna or other texts were only added later or include spelling and grammar mistakes and transcription errors, changing the entire understanding of certain passages. This critical approach is central to the movement, for its historicist underpinning stresses that all religious literature has an original meaning relevant in the context of its formulation. This meaning may be analyzed and discerned, and is distinct from the later interpretations ascribed by traditional commentators.[22]

Conservative authorities, as part of their promulgation of a dynamic Halakha, often cite the manner in which the sages of old used rabbinic statues (Takkanah) that enabled to bypass prohibitions in the Pentateuch, like the Prozbul or Heter I’ska. In 1948, when the idea was first debated, Rabbi Isaac Klein argued that since there was no consensus on leadership in Catholic Israel, formulation of significant takkanot should be avoided. Another proposal, to ratify them only with a two-thirds majority in the RA, was rejected. Statues require 13 supporters from the 25 members of the CJLS. In the 1950s and 1960s, such drastic measures as Rabbi Arnold M. Goodman cited in a 1996 writ allowing members of the priestly caste to marry divorcees, “Later authorities were reluctant to assume such unilateral authority… fear that invoking this principle would create the proverbial slippery slope, thereby weakening the entire halakhic structure… thus imposed severe limitations on the conditions and situations where it would be appropriate” were carefully drafted as temporal, emergency ordinances (Horaat Sha’ah), grounded on the need the avoid a total rift of many nonobservant Jews; Later on, they became accepted and permanent on the practical level. The movement issued a wide range of new, thoroughgoing statues, from the famous 1950 responsum that allowed driving to the synagogue on Sabbath and up to the 2000 decision to ban rabbis from inquiring about whether someone was a Bastard, de facto abolishing this legal category.[23]

The RA and CJLS reached many decisions through the years, shaping a distinctive profile for Conservative practice and worship. In the 1940s, when the public demanded mixed seating of both sexes in synagogue, some rabbis argued there was no precedent but obliged on the ground of dire need (Eth la’asot); others noted that archaeological research showed no partitions in ancient synagogues. Mixed seating became commonplace in almost all congregations. In 1950, it was ruled that using electricity (that is, closure of an electrical circuit) did not constitute kindling a fire unto itself, not even in incandescent bulbs, and therefore was not a forbidden labour and could be done on the Sabbath. On that basis, while performing banned labours is of course forbidden for example, video recording is still constituted as writing switching lights and other functions are allowed, though the RA strongly urges adherents to keep the sanctity of the Sabbath (refraining from doing anything that may imitate the atmosphere of weekdays, like loud noise reminiscent of work). The need to encourage arrival at synagogue also motivated the CJLS, during the same year, to issue a temporal statue allowing driving on that day, for that purpose alone; it was supported by decreeing that the combustion of fuel did not serve any of the acts prohibited during the construction of the Tabernacle, and could therefore be classified, according to their interpretation of the Tosafists’ opinion, as “redundant labour” (Sheina Tzricha Lgufa) and be permitted. The validity of this argument was heavily disputed within the denomination. In 1952, members of the priestly caste were allowed to marry divorcees, conditioned on forfeiture of their privileges, as termination of marriage became widespread and women who underwent it could not be suspected of unsavory acts. In 1967, the ban on priests marrying converts was also lifted.

In 1954, the issue of agunot (women refused divorce by their husbands) was largely settled by adding a clause to the prenuptial contract under which men had to pay alimony as long as they did not concede. In 1968, this mechanism was replaced by a retroactive expropriation of the bride price, rendering the marriage void. In 1955 more girls were celebrating Bat Mitzvah and demanded to be allowed ascents to the Torah, the CJLS agreed that the ordinance under which women were banned from this due to respect for the congregation (Kvod ha’Tzibur) was no longer relevant. In 1972 it was decreed that rennet, even if derived from unclean animals, was so transformed that it constituted a wholly new item (Panim Chadashot ba’u l’Khan) and therefore all hard cheese could be considered kosher.

The 1970s and 1980s saw the emergence of women’s rights on the main agenda. Growing pressure led the CJLS to adopt a motion that females may be counted as part of a quorum, based on the argument that only the Shulchan Aruch explicitly stated that it consist of men. While accepted, this was very controversial in the Committee and heavily disputed. A more complete solution was offered in 1983 by Rabbi Joel Roth, and was also enacted to allow women rabbinic ordination. Roth noted that some decisors of old acknowledged that women may bless when performing positive time-bound commandments (from which they are exempted, and therefore unable to fulfill the obligation for others), especially citing the manner in which they assumed upon themselves the Counting of the Omer. He suggested that women voluntarily commit to pray thrice a day et cetera, and his responsa was adopted. Since then, female rabbis were ordained at JTS and other seminaries. In 1994, the movement accepted Judith Hauptman’s principally egalitarian argument, according to which equal prayer obligations for women were never banned explicitly and it was only their inferior status that hindered participation. In 2006, openly gay rabbinic candidates were also to be admitted into the JTS. In 2012, a commitment ceremony for same-sex couples was devised, though not defined as kiddushin.

Conservative Judaism in the United States held a relatively strict policy regarding intermarriage. Propositions for acknowledging Jews by patrilineal descent, as in the Reform movement, were overwhelmingly dismissed. Unconverted spouses were largely barred from community membership and participation in rituals; clergy are banned from any involvement in interfaith marriage on pain of dismissal. However, as the rate of such unions rose dramatically, Conservative congregations began describing gentile family members as K’rov Yisrael (Kin of Israel) and be more open toward them. The Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism stated in 1995: “we want to encourage the Jewish partner to maintain his/her Jewish identity, and raise their children as Jews.”[24]

The term “Conservative Judaism” was used, still generically and not yet as a specific label, already in the 1887 dedication speech of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America by Rabbi Alexander Kohut. By 1901, the JTS alumni formed the Rabbinical Assembly, of which all ordained Conservative clergy in the world are members. As of 2010, there were 1,648 rabbis in the RA. In 1913, the United Synagogue of America, renamed the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in 1991, was founded as a congregational arm of the RA. The movement established the World Council of Conservative Synagogues in 1957. Offshoots outside North America mostly adopted the Hebrew name “Masorti”, traditional’, as did the Israeli Masorti Movement, founded in 1979, and the British Assembly of Masorti Synagogues, formed in 1985. The World Council eventually changed its name to “Masorti Olami”, Masorti International. Besides the RA, the international Cantors Assembly supplies prayer leaders for congregations worldwide.

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, covering the United States and Canada, is by far the largest constituent of Masorti Olami. While most congregations defining themselves as “Conservative” are affiliated with the USCJ, some are independent. In 2008, the more traditional Canadian Council of Conservative Synagogues seceded from the parent organization. It numbered seven communities as of 2014. According to the Pew Research Center survey in 2013, 18% of Jews in the United States identified with the movement, making it the second largest denomination in the country. Steven M. Cohen calculated that 962,000 U.S. Jewish adults considered themselves Conservative: 570,000 were registered congregants and further 392,000 were not members in a synagogue but identified. In addition, Cohen assumed in 2006 that 57,000 unconverted gentile spouses were also registered (12% of member households had one at the time). Conservatives are also the most aged group: among those aged under 30 only 11% identified as such, and there are three people over 55 for every single one aged between 35-44. As of November 2015, the USCJ had 580 member congregations (a sharp decline from 630 two years prior), 19 in Canada and the remainder in the United States.[25] While accurate information of Canada is scant, it is estimated that some third of religiously affiliated Canadian Jews are Conservative.[26]

Beyond North America, the movement has little presence in 2011, Rela Mintz Geffen appraised there were only 100,000 members outside the U.S., including Canada.[27] “Masorti AmLat”, the MO branch in Latin America, is the largest with 35 communities in Argentina, 7 in Brazil, 6 in Chile and further 11 in the other countries. The British Assembly of Masorti Synagogues has 13 communities and estimates its membership at over 4,000. Over 20 communities are spread across Europe, and there are 3 in Australia and two in Africa. The Masorti Movement in Israel incorporates some 70 communities and prayer groups. In addition, while Hungarian Neolog Judaism, with a few thousands of adherents and forty partially active synagogues, is not officially affiliated with Masorti Olami, Conservative Judaism regards it as a fraternal, “non-Orthodox but halakhic” movement.[28]

In New York, the JTS serves as the principal seminary and the leading institution. The movement maintains a number of other Rabbinical seminaries: the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, at the non-denominational American Jewish University in Los Angeles; the Marshall T. Meyer Latin American Rabbinical Seminary (Spanish: Seminario Rabnico Latinoamericano Marshall T. Meyer), in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. A Conservative institution that does not grant rabbinic ordination but which runs along the lines of a traditional yeshiva is the Conservative Yeshiva, located in Jerusalem. The Neolog Budapest University of Jewish Studies also maintains connections with the denomination.

The current Chancellor of the JTS is Rabbi Arnold Eisen, in office since 2008. The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards is chaired by Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, serving since 2007. The Rabbinical Assembly is headed by President Rabbi William G. Gershon, as of 2016, and managed by executive vice-president Rabbi Julie Schonfeld. The USCJ is directed by CEO Rabbi Steven Wernick and President Margo Gold. In South America, Rabbi Abraham Skorka serves as Chancellor in the Seminario, and Daniel Cohn as president of Masorti AmLat. In Britain, the Masorti Assembly is chaired by Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg. In Israel, the Masorti movement is led by Rabbis Mauricio Balter and Dubi Haiyun, and chaired by Yizhar Hess.

The global youth movement is known as NOAM, an acronym for No’ar Masorti; its North American chapter is called the United Synagogue Youth. The Womens League for Conservative Judaism is also active in North America.

The USCJ maintains the Solomon Schechter Day Schools, comprising 76 day schools in 17 American states and 2 Canadian provinces serving Jewish children.[29] Many other “community day schools” that are not affiliated with Schechter take a generally Conservative approach, but unlike these, generally have “no barriers to enrollment based on the faith of the parents or on religious practices in the home.”[30] During the first decade of the 21st century, a number of schools that were part of the Schechter network transformed themselves into non-affiliated community day schools.[30] The USCJ also maintains the Camp Ramah system, where children and adolescents spends summers in an observant environment.[31][32] In Israel, the Masorti foundation sponsors the TALI program, responsible for teaching Judaism in 96 schools and 200 kindergartens, reaching 45,000 children.[33]

The rise of the modern, centralized state in Europe by the early 19th century hearkened the end of Jewish judicial autonomy and social seclusion. Their communal corporate rights were abolished, and the process of emancipation and acculturation that followed quickly transformed the values and norms of the public. Estrangement and apathy toward Judaism were rampant. The process of communal, educational and civil reform could not be restricted from affecting the core tenets of the faith. The new academic, critical study of Judaism (Wissenschaft des Judentums) soon became a source of controversy. Rabbis and scholars argued to what degree, if at all, could findings be used to determine present conduct. The modernized Orthodox in Germany, like rabbis Isaac Bernays and Azriel Hildesheimer, were content to cautiously study it while stringently adhering to the sanctity of holy texts and refusing to grant Wissenschaft any say in religious matters. On the other extreme were Rabbi Abraham Geiger, who would emerge as the founding father of Reform Judaism, and his supporters. They opposed any limit on critical research or its practical application, laying more weight on the need for change than on continuity.

The Prague-born Rabbi Zecharias Frankel, appointed chief rabbi of the Kingdom of Saxony in 1836, gradually rose to become the leader of those who stood at the middle. Besides working for the civic betterment of local Jews and educational reform, he displayed keen interest in Wissenschaft. But Frankel was always cautious and deeply reverent towards tradition, privately writing in 1836 that “the means must be applied with such care and discretion… that forward progress will be reached unnoticed, and seem inconsequential to the average spectator.” He soon found himself embroiled in the great disputes of the 1840s. In 1842, during the second Hamburg Temple controversy, he opposed the new Reform prayerbook, arguing the elimination of petitions for a future Return to Zion led by the Messiah was a violation of an ancient tenet. But he also opposed the ban placed on the tome by Rabbi Bernays, stating this was a primitive behaviour. In the same year, he and S.L. Rapoport were the only ones of nineteen respondents who negatively answered the Breslau community’s enquiry on whether the deeply unorthodox Geiger could serve there. In 1843, Frankel clashed with the radical Reform rabbi Samuel Holdheim, who argued that the act of marriage in Judaism was a civic (memonot) rather than sanctified (issurim) matter and could be subject to the Law of the Land. In December 1843 Frankel launched the magazine Zeitschrift fr die Religisen Interessen des Judenthums. In the preamble, he attempted to present his approach to the present plight: “the further development of Judaism cannot be done through Reform that would lead to total dissipation… But must be involved in its study… pursued via scientific research, on a positive, historical basis.” The term Positive-Historical became associated with him and his middle way. The Zeitschrift was, along the convictions of its publisher, neither dogmatically orthodox nor overly polemic, wholly opposing Biblical criticism and arguing for the antiquity of custom and practice.

In 1844, Geiger and like-minded allies arranged a conference in Braunschweig that was to have enough authority (since 1826, Rabbi Aaron Chorin called for the convocation of a new Sanhedrin) to debate and enact thoroughgoing revisions. Frankel was willing to agree only to a meeting without any practical results, and refused the invitation. When the protocols, which contained many radical statements, were published, he denounced the assembly for “applying the scalpel of criticism” and favouring the spirit of the age over tradition. However, he later agreed to attend the second conference, held in Frankfurt am Main on 15 July 1845 in spite of warnings from Rapoport, who cautioned that compromise with Geiger was impossible and he would only damage his reputation among the traditionalists. On the 16th, the issue of Hebrew in the liturgy arose. Most present were inclined to retain it, but with more German segments. A small majority adopted a resolution stating there were subjective, but no objective, imperatives to keep it as the language of service. Frankel then astounded his peers by vehemently protesting, stating it was a breach with tradition and Hebrew was of dire importance and great sentimental value. The others immediately began quoting all passages in rabbinic literature allowing prayer in the vernacular. While Frankel could not contend with the halakhic validity of their decision, which was quite trivial and well grounded, he perceived it as a sign for profound differences between them. On the 17th he formally withdrew, publishing a lambasting critique of the procedures. “Opponents of the conference, who feared he went to the other side,” noted historian Michael A. Meyer, “now felt reassured of his loyalty.”

The rabbi of Saxony had many sympathizers, who supported a similarly moderate approach and change only on the basis of tradition and the authority of the Talmud. When Geiger began preparing a third conference in Breslau, Hirsch Br Fassel convinced Frankel to organize one of his own in protest. He invited colleagues to an assembly in Dresden, which was to be held on 21 October 1846. He announced that one measure he was willing to countenance was the possible abolition of the second day of festivals, though only based on a broad consensus and much deliberation. Attendants were to include Rapoport, Fassel, Adolf Jellinek, Leopold Lw, Michael Sachs, Abraham Kohn and others. However, the Dresden assembly soon drew heated Orthodox resistance, especially from Rabbi Jacob Ettlinger, and was postponed indefinitely.

In 1854, Frankel was appointed Chancellor in the new Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau, the first modern rabbinical seminary in Germany. His opponents on both flanks were incensed. Geiger and the Reform camp long accused him of theological ambiguity, hypocrisy and attachment to stagnant remnants, and now protested the “medieval” atmosphere in the seminary, which was mainly concerned with teaching Jewish Law. The hardline Orthodox Samson Raphael Hirsch, who fiercely opposed Wissenschaft and emphasized the divine origin of the entire halakhic system in the Theophany at Sinai, was deeply suspicious of his beliefs, use of science and constant assertions the Law was flexible and evolving.

The final schism between Frankel and the Orthodox occurred after the 1859 publication of his Darke ha-Mishna (Ways of the Mishna). He heaved praise on the Beatified Sages, presenting them as bold innovators, but not once affirmed the divinity of the Oral Torah. On the ordinances classified as Law given to Moses at Sinai, he quoted Asher ben Jehiel that stated several of those were only apocryphally dubbed as such; he applied the latter’s conclusion to all, noting they were “so evident as if given at Sinai”. Hirsch branded him a heretic, demanding he announce whether he believed that both the Oral and Written Torah were of celestial origin. Rabbis Benjamin Hirsch Auerbach, Solomon Klein and others published more complaisant tracts, but also requested an explanation. Rapoport marshaled to Frankel’s aid, assuring that his words were merely reiterating ben Jehiel’s and that he would soon release a statement that would belie Hirsch’s accusations. But then the Chancellor of Breslau issued an ambiguous defence, writing his book was not concerned with theology and avoiding giving any clear answer. Now even Rapoport joined his critics.

Hirsch succeeded, severely tarnishing his rival’s reputation among most concerned. Along with fellow Orthodox rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer, he launched a protracted public campaign through the 1860s. They ceaselessly stressed the chasm between an Orthodox understanding of halakha as derived and revealed, applied differently to different circumstances and subject to human judgement and possibly error, yet unchanging and divine in principle as opposed to an evolutionary, historicist and non-dogmatic approach in which past authorities were not just elaborating but consciously innovating, as taught by Frankel. Hildesheimer often repeated this issue utterly overshadowed any specific technical argument with the Breslau School (the students of which were often more lenient on matters of headcovering for women, Chalav Yisrael and other issues). He was often concerned that Jewish public opinion perceived no practical difference between them; though he cared to distinguish the observant acolytes of Frankel from the Reform camp, he noted in his diary: “how meager is the principal difference between the Breslau School, who don silk gloves at their work, and Geiger who wields a sledgehammer.”

The Positive-Historical School was influential, but never institutionalized itself as thoroughly as its opponents. Apart from the many graduates of Breslau, Isaac Noah Mannheimer, Adolf Jellinek and Rabbi Moritz Gdemann led the central congregation in Vienna along a similar path. In Jellinek’s local seminary, Meir Friedmann and Isaac Hirsch Weiss followed Frankel’s moderate approach to critical research. The rabbinate of the liberal Neolog public in Hungary, which formally separated from the Orthodox, was also permeated with the “Breslsu spirit”. Many of its members studied there, and its Jewish Theological Seminary of Budapest was modeled after it, though the assimilationist congregants cared little for rabbinic opinion. In Germany itself, Breslau alumni founded in 1868 a short-lived society, the Jdisch-Theologische Verein. It was dissolved within a year, boycotted by both Reform and Orthodox. Michael Sachs led the Berlin congregation in a very conservative style, eventually resigning when an organ was introduced in services. Manuel Jol, another of the Frankelist party, succeeded Geiger in Breslau. He maintained his predecessor’s truncated German translation of the liturgy for the sake of compromise, but returned the full Hebrew text.

The Breslau Seminary and the Reform Hochschule fr die Wissenschaft des Judentums maintained very different approaches; but on the communal level, the former’s alumni failure to organize or articulate a coherent agenda, coupled with the declining prestige of Breslau and their associates’ conservatism a necessity in heterogeneous communities which remained unified, especially after the Orthodox gained the right to secede in 1876 imposed a rather uniform character on what was known in Germany as “Liberal Judaism”. In 1909, 63 rabbis associated with Breslau approach founded the Freie jdische Vereinigung, another brief attempt at institutionalization, but it too failed soon. Only in 1925 did the Religise Mittelpartei fr Frieden und Einheit succeed in driving the same agenda. It won several seats in communal elections, but was small and of little influence.

Jewish immigration to the United States bred an amalgam of loose communities, lacking strong tradition or stable structures. In this free-spirited environment, a multitude of forces was at work. As early as 1866, Rabbi Jonas Bondi of New York wrote that a Judaism of the “golden middleway, which was termed Orthodox by the left and heterodox or reformer by the right” developed in the new country. The rapid ascendancy of Reform Judaism by the 1880s left few who opposed it: merely a handful of congregations and ministers remained outside the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. These included Sabato Morais and rabbi Henry Pereira Mendes of the elitist Sephardi congregations, along with rabbis Bernard Drachman (ordained at Breslau, though he regarded himself as Orthodox) and Henry Schneeberger.

While spearheaded by radical and principled Reformers like Rabbi Kaufmann Kohler, UAHC itself was home to more conservative elements. President Isaac Meyer Wise, a pragmatist intent on compromise, hoped to forge a broad consensus that would turn a moderate version of Reform to dominant in America. He kept dietary laws home and attempted to assuage traditionalists. On 11 July 1883, apparently due to negligence by the Jewish caterer, non-kosher dishes were served to UAHC rabbis in Wise’s presence. Known to posterity as the “trefa banquet”, it purportedly made some guests abandon the hall in disgust, but little is factually known about the incident. The traditionalist forces received a bolstering upon the arrival of Rabbi Alexander Kohut, an adherent of Frankel, in 1885. He publicly excoriated Reform for disdaining ritual and received forms, triggering a heated polemic with Kohler. The debate was one of the main factors which motivated the latter to compose the Pittsburgh Platform, which unambiguously declared the principles of Reform Judaism: “to-day we accept as binding only the moral laws, and maintain only such ceremonies as elevate and sanctify our lives.”

The explicit wording alienated a handful of conservative UAHC ministers: Henry Hochheimer, Frederick de Sola Mendes, Aaron Wise, Marcus Jastrow and Benjamin Szold. They joined Kohut, Morais and the others in seeking to establish a traditional rabbinic seminary that would serve as a counterweight to Hebrew Union College. In 1886, they founded the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City. Kohut, professor of Talmud who held to the Positive-Historical ideal, was the main educational influence in the early years, prominent among the founders who encompassed the entire spectrum from progressive Orthodox to the brink of Reform; to describe what the seminary intended to espouse, he used the term “Conservative Judaism”, which had no independent meaning at the time and was only in relation to Reform. Pereira Mendes, Schneeberger and Drachman also founded the Orthodox Union in 1898, which maintained close ties with the seminary.

The JTS was small, fledgling institution with financial difficulties, and was ordaining a rabbi per year. But soon after Chancellor Morais’ death in 1897, its fortunes turned. Since 1881, a wave of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe was inundating the country by 1920, 2.5 million of them arrived, increasing American Jewry tenfold. They came from regions where civil equality and emancipation were never granted, and acculturation and modernization made little headway. Whether devout or irreligious, they mostly retained strong traditional sentiments in matters of faith, accustomed to old-style rabbinate; the hardline Agudas HaRabbanim, founded by emigrant clergy, opposed secular education or vernacular sermons, and its members spoke almost only Yiddish. The Eastern Europeans were alienated by the local Jews, who were all assimilated in comparison, and especially aghast by the mores of Reform. The need to find a religious framework that would both accommodate and Americanize them motivated Jacob Schiff and other rich philanthropists, all Reform and of German descent, to donate $500,000 to the JTS. The contribution was solicited by Professor Cyrus Adler. It was conditioned on the appointment of Solomon Schechter as Chancellor. In 1901, the Rabbinical Assembly was established as the fraternity of JTS alumni.

Schechter arrived in 1902, and at once reorganized the faculty, dismissing both Pereira Mendes and Drachman for lack of academic merit. Under his aegis, the institute began to draw famous scholars, becoming a center of learning on par with HUC. Schechter was both traditional in sentiment and quite unorthodox in conviction. He maintained that theology was of little importance and it was practice that must be preserved. He aspired to solicit unity in American Judaism, denouncing sectarianism and not perceiving himself as leading a new denomination: “not to create a new party, but to consolidate an old one”. The need to raise funds convinced him that a congregational arm for the Rabbinical Assembly and JTS was required. On 23 February 1913, he founded the United Synagogue of America (since 1991: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism), which then consisted of 22 communities. He and Mendes first came to major disagreement; Schechter insisted that any alumnus could be appointed to the USoA’s managerial board, and not just to serve as communal rabbi, including several the latter did not consider sufficiently devout, or who tolerated mixed seating in their synagogues (though some of those he still regarded Orthodox). Mendes, president of the Orthodox Union, therefore refused to join. He began to distinguish between the “Modern Orthodoxy” of himself and his peers in the OU, and “Conservatives” who tolerated what was beyond the pale for him. However, this first sign of institutionalization and separation was far from conclusive. Mendes himself could not clearly distinguish between the two groups, and many he viewed as Orthodox were members of the USoA; the epithets “Conservative” and “Orthodox” remained interchangeable for decades to come. JTS graduates served in OU congregations; many students of the Orthodox Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary seminary and members of the OU’s Rabbinical Council of America, or RCA, attended it. In 1926, RIETS and the JTS negotiated a merger, but it did not occur. Upon Schechter’s death in 1915, the first generation of his disciples kept his non-sectarian legacy of striving for a united, traditional American Judaism. He was replaced by Cyrus Adler.[34]

The USoA grew rapidly as the Eastern European immigrant population slowly integrated. In 1923 it already had 150 affiliates, and 229 before 1930. Synagogues offered a more modernized ritual: English sermons, choir singing, late Friday evening services, tacitly acknowledging that most had to work until after the Sabbath began, and often mixed-gender seating: either men and women sat separately with no partition, or family pews were introduced. Motivated by popular pressure and frowned upon by both RA and seminary faculty in its own synagogue, the institute maintained a partition until 1983 this was becoming common among the OU as well. Both social pressures and apathy turned American Jews away from tradition (barely 20% were attending prayer once a week), a young professor named Mordecai Kaplan promoted the idea of turning the synagogue into a community center, a “Shul with a Pool”.[35] In 1927, the RA also established its own Committee of Jewish Law, entrusted with determining halakhic issues. Consisting of seven members, it was chaired by the traditionalist Rabbi Louis Ginzberg, who already distinguished himself in 1922, drafting a responsa that allowed to use grape juice rather than fermented wine for Kiddush on the background of Prohibition. Kaplan himself, who rose to become an influential and popular figure within the JTS, concluded that his peers’ ambiguity in matters of belief and the contradiction between full observance and critical study were untenable and hypocritical. He formulated his own approach of Judaism as a Civilization, rejecting the concept of Revelation and any supernatural belief in favour of a cultural-ethnic perception. While valuing received mores, he eventually suggested giving the past “a vote, not a veto.” While popular among students, Kaplan’s nascent Reconstructionism was opposed by the new traditionalist Chancellor Louis Finkelstein, appointed in 1940, and the rest of the faculty.

Tensions within the JTS and RA grew. The Committee of Jewish Law consisted mainly of scholars who had little field experience, almost solely from the seminary’s Talmudic department. They were greatly concerned with halakhic licitness and indifferent to the pressures exerted on the pulpit rabbis, who had to contend with an Americanized public which cared little for such considerations or for tradition in general. In 1935, the RA almost adopted a groundbreaking motion: Rabbi Louis Epstein offered a solution to the agunah predicament, a clause that would have husbands appoint wives as their proxies to issue divorce. It was repealed under pressure from the Orthodox Union. As late as 1947, CJL Chair Rabbi Boaz Cohen, himself a historicist who argued that the Law evolved much through time, rebuked pulpit clergy who requested lenient or radical rulings, stating he and his peers were content to “progress in inches… Free setting up of new premises and the introduction of novel categories of ritual upon the basis of pure reason and thinking would be perilous, if not fatal, to the principles and continuity of Jewish Law.”

The boundaries between Orthodox and Conservative Judaism in America were institutionalized only in the aftermath of World War II. The 1940s saw the younger generation of JTS graduates less patient with the prudence of the CJL and Talmud faculty in face of popular demand. Kaplan’s Reconstructionism, while its fully committed partisans were few, had much influence. The majority among recent alumni eschewed the epithet “Orthodox” and tended to employ “Conservative” exclusively. Succeeding Schechter’s direct disciples who headed the RA, JTS and United Synagogue in the interwar period, a new strata of activist leaders was rising. Rabbi Robert Gordis, RA president in 1944-46, represented the junior members in advocating more flexibility; Rabbi Jacob Agus, a RIETS graduate who joined the body only in 1945, clamored that “we need a law making body, not a law interpreting committee.” Agus argued that the breach between the Jewish public and tradition was too wide to be bridged conventionally, and that the RA would always remain inferior to the Orthodox as long as it retained its policy of merely adopting lenient precedents in rabbinic literature. He offered to extensively apply the tool of takkanah, rabbinic ordinance.

In 1946, a committee chaired by Gordis issued the Sabbath and Festival Prayerbook, the first clearly Conservative liturgy: references to the sacrificial cult were in the past tense instead of a petition for restoration, and it rephrased blessings such as “who hast made me according to thy will” for women to “who hast made me a woman”. In 1948, spurned by Agus’, the pulpit rabbis in the RA gained the upper hand. They voted to reorganize the CJL into a Committee of Jewish Law and Standards, enfranchised to issue takkanot by a majority. Membership was conditioned on having experience as a congregational rabbi, and unseasoned JTS faculty were thus denied entrance. While the RA was asserting a Conservative distinctive identity, the seminary remained more cautious. Finkelstein opposed sectarianism and preferred the neutral epithet “traditional”, later commenting that “Conservative Judaism is a gimmick to get Jews back to real Judaism”. He and the very right-wing Talmud professor Saul Lieberman, who maintained ties with the Orthodox while also viewing them as obstructionist and ossified, dominated the JTS, providing a counterweight to the liberals in the Assembly. Kaplan, meanwhile, spent more time on consolidating his Society for Advancement of Judaism. Abraham Joshua Heschel, who espoused a mysticist understanding of religion, also became an important figure among the faculty.

The CJLS now proceeded to demonstrate its independence. Sabbath was widely desecrated by most, and the board believed arrival at synagogues should be encouraged. They therefore enacted an ordinance that allowed driving on the Sabbath, to worship alone. So was use of electricity. The driving responsum was later severely criticized by Conservative rabbis, and was charged with imparting the movement was overly keen to condone the laxity of congregants. It also signified the final break with the Orthodox, who were themselves being bolstered by more strictly observant immigrants from Europe. In 1954, the RCA reverted its 1948 ruling that allowed the use of microphones on Sabbath and festivals and declared that praying without a partition between sexes was banned. Though enforced slowly in 1997, there were still seven OU congregations with no physical barrier, and so-called “Conservadox” remain extant these two attributes became a demarcation line between Orthodox and Conservative synagogues. RA converts were denied ablution in Orthodox ritual baths, and rabbis from one denomination would gradually cease serving in the other’s communities. Rather than a force within American Judaism, the JTS-centered movement emerged as a third denomination. The historicist and critical approach to halakha, as well as other features, were emphasized by leaders eager to demonstrate their uniqueness. In their efforts to solidify a coherent identity, Conservative thinkers like Mordecai Waxman in his 1957 Tradition and Change, ventured beyond Schechter’s deem conceptions to Rabbi Zecharias Frankel and Breslau, presenting themselves as its direct inheritors via Alexander Kohut and others. The CJLS continued to issue groundbreaking ordinances and rulings.

The postwar decades were a time of immense growth for the Conservative movement. Most of the 500,000 decommissioned Jewish GI’s left the densely populated immigrant neighbourhoods of the East Coast, moving to suburbia. They were Americanized but still retained traditional sentiments, and Reform Judaism was too radical for most. The United Synagogue of America offered Jewish education for children and a familiar religious environment which was also comfortable and not strict. The USoA expanded from 350 communities by 1945 to 832 by 1971, becoming the largest denomination, with some 350,000 member households (1,500,000 people) at synagogues and over 40% of American Jewry identifying with it in polls, adding an estimated million more non-registered supporters. Already in a 1955 study, Marshall Sklare defined Conservative Judaism as the quintessential American Jewish movement, but recognized the gap between laity and clergy, noting “rabbis now recognize that they are not making decisions or writing responsa, but merely taking a poll of their membership.” Most congregants, commented Edward S. Shapiro, were “Conservative Jews because their rabbi kept kosher and the Sabbath… Not because of their religious behaviour.” The movement established its presence outside the U.S. and Canada: In 1962, the young Rabbi Marshall Meyer founded the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, which would serve as the basis for Conservative expansion in South America. In 1979, four communities formed the Israel Masorti Movement. Rabbi Louis Jacobs, dismissed in 1964 from the British Orthodox rabbinate on the charge of heresy after espousing a non-literal understanding of the Torah, joined with the Conservatives and founded his country’s first Masorti community. The new branches were all united within the World Council of Synagogues, later to be named Masorti Olami.

The denomination peaked in numbers in the 1970s. During that decade, the tensions between the various elements within it intensified. The right wing, conservative in halakhic matters and often adhering to a verbal understanding of revelation, was dismayed by the failure to bolster observance among the laity and the resurgence of Orthodoxy. The left was influenced by the Reconstructionists, who formed their own seminary in 1968 and were slowly coalescing, as well as the growing appeal of Reform, which turned more traditional and threatened to sway congregants. While the rightists opposed further modifications, their peers demanded them. The Chavurah movement, consisting of nonaligned prayer quorums of young (and frequently, Conservative-raised) worshipers who sought a more intense religious experience, also weakened congregations. In 1972, the liberal wing gained an influential position with the appointment of Gerson D. Cohen as JTS Chancellor. During the same year, after Reform began to ordain female rabbis. A strong lobby rose to advocate the same. The CJLS rapidly enacted an ordinance which allowed women to be tallied for a minyan, and by 1976 the percentage of synagogues allowing them to bless during the reading of the Torah grew from 7% to 50%.

Female ordination was a matter of great friction until 1983, when Rabbi Joel Roth devised a solution that entailed women voluntarily accepting the obligation to pray regularly. The leadership passed it not by scholarly consensus but via a popular vote of all JTS faculty, including non-specialists. David Weiss Halivni, professor of the Talmud faculty, claimed that Roth’s method must have required waiting until a considerable number of women did prove such commitment. He and his sympathizers regarded the vote as belying any claim to halakhic integrity. They formed the Union for Traditional Conservative Judaism, a right-wing lobby which numbered some 10,000 supporters from the Conservative observant elite. The UTJC withdrew from the denomination and erased the word “Conservative” in 1990, attempting to merge with moderate Orthodox organizations. In the very same year, the Reconstructionist also seceded fully, joining the World Union for Progressive Judaism under observer status. The double defection narrowed the movement’s spectrum of opinions, at a time when large swaths of congregants were abandoning in favour of Reform, which was more tolerant of intermarriage. RA leaders were engaged in introspection through the later 1980s, and issued 1988 Emet ve-Emunah platform, while Reform slowly bypassed them and became the largest denomination.

After the issue of egalitarianism for women subsided, LGBT acceptance replaced it as the main source of contention between the declining right-wing wing and the liberal majority. A first attempt was rebuffed in 1992 by a harsh responsum written by Roth. The retirement of Chancellor Ismar Schorsch, a staunch opponent, allowed the CJLS to endorse a motion which still banned anal intercourse but not any other physical contact, and allowed the ordination of openyl LGBT rabbis. Roth and three other supporters resigned from the panel in protest, claiming the responsum was not valid; Masorti affiliates in South America, Israel and Hungary objected severely; the Seminario is yet to accept the resolution, while several Canadian congregations seceded from the United Synagogue in 2008 to form an independent union. Since the 2013 Pew survey, which assessed that only 18% of American Jews identify with it, Conservative Judaism is engaged in attempting to solve its demographic crisis.

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Conservative Judaism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia