by: Schvach Yid
Conservative Movement: ‘I don’t think you’re quite ready to wear tefillin; I think it might be more beneficial to wait until you’re a bit better prepared; besides, you haven’t yet completed your post-bar mitzvah assignment’.
Congregant: ‘But I’m 23 years old; so what if I didn’t ‘get into’ law school and that I’m unemployed’.
Chabad: ‘Have you put on tefillin today? It’s a mitzvah – a commandment from HaShem. You don’t have tefillin of your own? Here, put on mine; I’ll show you how, and I’ll help you recite the appropriate blessings and prayers.
Conservative Movement: 'I don’t think you’re quite what we’re looking for at JTS. Your recommendations are a bit weak, and a BA from SUNY Cortland just doesn’t stand up.'
Chabad: ‘Would you like to study in our yeshiva in
Conservative Movement: ‘If you qualify, we’d really like you and your family to become members of our synagogue; here’s an application and fee schedule.'
Chabad: ‘Every Jew is precious; we want you to be Jewish and involve yourself with yiddishkeit. Please feel free to attend our services. We have a minyan for Shacharis and Mincha/Maariv every day. Can I have your name and address for our mailing list? Do you have an e-mail address? We have lots of classes you can attend, and a Hebrew school for children. Our cholent we serve on Shabbos is second to none – you'll love it. Please feel free to attend our services and classes any time.'
Well, I ‘said’ I had more to write about the Conservative Movement, so here it is, a diatribe by a member of the tribe. But first, please believe me, no lashon hara or sinat chinam is intended.
Chabad Lubavitch has succeeded where the Conservative Movement has failed, and this goes beyond outreach/continuity. This falls into the realm of fundamental values.
Chabad has succeeded, in part, by utilizing an image which many members and followers of the Conservative Movement reject as repugnant – the image of the shtetl Jew. Chassidim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (that is, the men) clad themselves in traditional garb: kapote, gärtel, yalmulka, signature hat, beard. Compare this to the rants of some members/followers of the Conservative Movement (or some other Jewish religious organizations) – tales of how their antecedents, so disgusted with traditional Eastern European Jewish life, tossed their tefillin overboard into the ‘drink’ during their transport across the Atlantic en route to America.
Now, compare this to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s tefillin campaign.
Who do you think has the correct approach to Jewish outreach? Which group’s values have succeeded in revitalizing Jewish life, world wide?
Such disdain is held by the Conservative Movement toward ‘the old way’ that it has jumped hook, line, and sinker onto the bandwagon of
Years ago, a history professor – an author of Jewish history books directed at the non-academic lay public – gave a presentation at the local Jewish Community Center. He wasn’t Orthodox – not by a long shot. His talk centered on the life of Jews during our ‘Golden Age’ in Medieval Spain. During the course of his lecture, he described running into a Chabad family while visiting
I don’t know if this well-known professor of Jewish history is/was involved with the Conservative Movement, but his stance was clear, and certainly not unique.
Back to the American Conservative Movement rabbi I met on a kibbutz in
Here’s a mini-tale. On that Conservative Movement kibbutz, two Conservative Movement rabbis, both American, and I were conversing. One of the two asked me, ‘do you have The Jewish Catalog?’ I answered yes. He then asked, ‘is it the original Jewish Catalog, or just the first volume of the three volume set’. I answered I have the three volume set and not the original volume. A look of disapproval came across his face. He chuckled and said, ‘that won’t do’. I had no idea I was auditioning.