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org: The Conservative/Masorti Movement Dreaming from Within

ShefaJournal 5770:3

Why Must Masorti/Conservative Judaism Thrive?

Editor’s Note:
ShefaNetwork.org was born in December of 2004 in the hope that an equalized and dynamic
conversation between Jewish professionals and lay members invested in the Masorti/Conservative Movement
could occur. Better than that, the vision was that this conversation would move beyond the institutional
limitations and hierarchical dysfunctionality that had plagued our leadership in the Diaspora, in Israel, and the
rest of the world. Better than that, the dream was to make this new, mentchlich conversation contagious. To
date, the ShefaNetwork is made up of 507 participants spanning all ages, all walks of life, professionals,
professors, high school students, grandparents, rabbis, sociologists, early childhood educators, journalists and
more. There have been 3,514 posts and 8 ShefaJournals during the past six years, some of which have been
utilized by individuals, shuls, and by national organizations concerned with and deeply involved in the future of
Masorti/Conservative Judaism.

These last years have been transformative, with stronger and intentionally positive public relationships
between leaders of our Movement, emerging alignment between Masorti Judaism in Israel and Diaspora
Masorti/Conservative institutions, publication of new and vastly improved siddurim and machzorim (130,000
copies of Machzor Lev Shalem have already been purchased and Siddur Va’ani Tefilati was on the Israeli
Bestseller List for 4 months this past year).

It never hurts to ask basic affirming questions, especially facing a Movemental

future which remains unsure despite our many successful projects. This
ShefaJournal is an attempt to clarify the motivations behind the energy so many
professionals and lay leaders expend for the sake of Masorti/Conservative
Judaism. It is not narrow interest that compels the emotionality of our
conversation – it is hope for the Jewish People and for the world at large that
commands our devotion. The three pieces within this ShefaJournal are short,
focused responses to one profound and simple question: The Mission of the
ShefaNetwork is two-
“Why Must Masorti/Conservative Judaism Thrive?” fold: To bring together
dreamers from within
Each response is intended to be an outpouring of the heart, a quote usable by the Conservative
any institution of – and any individual in relationship with - the Global Masorti Movement and to give
Movement. But we only matter if we connect with people, and these their dreams an audible
statements of principle alone will not do it. People are looking for a spiritual voice.
home in which they find meaning – they (we) look to tradition to help them (us)
We are part of the
deal with contemporary life. If we offer that, we will succeed.
Conservative Movement
and commit ourselves to
May the year ahead find us healthy, strong - and hopeful!
work towards its health.
Be a part of our
Rabbi Menachem Creditor community of builders
Rosh Chodesh Elul 5770 and dreamers!
Berkeley, CA

© 2010, shefanetwork.org
ShefaNetwork.org: The Conservative/Masorti Movement Dreaming from Within
ShefaJournal 5770:3

Why Must Masorti/Conservative Judaism Thrive?

Why Must Masorti/Conservative Why Must Masorti/Conservative Why Must Masorti/Conservative
Judaism Thrive? Judaism Thrive? Judaism Thrive?
Nina S. Kretzmer Rabbi Neil Tow Karla Worrell

Conservative Judaism enables us Masorti-Conservative Judaism should Because, by connecting traditional texts
to celebrate and learn from the past, thrive because it is in the wonderful, and halachah, with their rich complexity,
present, and future through commitment mysterious, traditional, modern and ever- to contemporary Jewish life with its rich
to study and halachic observance. changing "center". complexity, Masorti/Conservative
Judaism creates an accessible authentic
Conservative Judaism preserves
History is all too often a swing from one bridge connecting us to both our ancient
our ability to claim our right as human
end of the spectrum to the other, from past and our unfolding future.
beings and human communities to shape
the conservative to the liberal and back
our history and reminds us that at the
the other way, or from the traditional to It offers a living halachah that is both
same time, boundaries are very healthy
the new-age and back. binding and flexible and communities
and necessary.
where this halachah can be explored and
Conservative Judaism reminds us Conservative Judaism has the true grit to embraced from a positive perspective
that intellectual honesty, intellectual remain in the volatile "center" with all with meaningful purpose rather than by
dialogue, and critical scholarship are the vulnerability and uncertainty that will rote with an "all or nothing" approach.
Jewish values. accompany any religious movement that
seeks to exist within such important but It provides a place where our prayers can
Conservative Judaism reminds us
tenuous boundaries. flow from the heart as we seek
that literalism does not equal truth.
covenantal communion through a variety
Conservative Judaism reminds us "Do you accept the challenge of living in of expressions.
of our equality as human beings and thus a dynamic Judaism that won't let
our equal obligations as Jews. tradition go but also won't hide its head Its egalitarian inclusive environment
from the blossoming of human opens the doors of Jewish learning and
Conservative Judaism is capable
consciousness and civilization?" living to all Jews inviting participation
of restoring religious freedom and
and growth on all levels.
equality to the Jewish homeland.
Yes, it's a bit heady, but that's for me!
Conservative Judaism reminds us Being part of Masorti/Conservative
that tension is real, healthy, necessary for Judaism gives us a unique voice in the
us to grow, and a source of meaning in ancient yet ongoing conversation that is
our lives. Judaism while connecting us to our local
communities and klal Israel through the
Conservative Judaism is the
shared history, destiny and commitment
Judaism of simultaneous liberation and
that bind us in unity.
gravity, teaching us to be unafraid.
Without Masorti/Conservative Judaism
The Mission of the ShefaNetwork is there would be many passionate,
two-fold: To bring together
creative Jews without an opportunity to
dreamers from within the
express their souls and contribute their
Conservative Movement and to give
their dreams an audible voice. gifts in ways that are meaningful to them
and enriching to all of us.
We are part of the Conservative
Movement and commit ourselves to
work towards its health. Be a part of
our community of builders and

© 2010, shefanetwork.org