Conservative Judaism


Breslau Reform Conference 1846: Zacharias Frankel withdrew over issue of Hebrew in liturgy.

Objected to Reformers' disregard for historical continuity and nationalism.

Proposes programme for Positive Historical Judaism.

Click here to read Frankel's essay "On Changes in Judaism"

Conservative Judaism in America:

Only 12 out of 200 American congregations were not Reform. Reform in America was largely radical.

Many non-Reformers were from established Sepharadic communities, concentrated on Eastern seaboard.

Some had been moderate Reformers or Positive-Historical in Europe.
The minority broke off with the adoption of the Pittsburgh Platform of 1885.

Attempts to establish Jewish Theological Seminary of America:

For the preservation in America of the knowledge and practice of historical Judaism as ordained in the law of Moses expounded by the prophets and sages in Israel in Biblical and Talmudic writings.

Break with conservative (Eastern European) Orthodoxy.


Successful establishment of JTS in New York, financed by established Reform Jews.


Solomon Schechter
Solomon Schechter
Leadership of Solomon Schechter. Faculty included some of the leading Jewish scholars of the world.

Institutional Evolution:

General Trends in Expansion of Movement:

Tensions between traditionalist Seminary faculty and more liberal congregational rabbis and laity.

"De-legitimization" by more extreme movements as a compromise between traditionalism and modernism.

Successful expansion of movement as Jews move into suburban communities (in '40's and '50's). Leads to watering down of commitment to standards and ideals of observance, etc.

Halakhic pluralism: Committee on Law and Standards gives sanction to minority positions. Autonomy of individual synagogues. More lenient rulings become widespread.

Congregant as observer, rather than participant in services:


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