Two scholars pushed for a stronger Conservative Judaism movement in the modern world basing their arguments from divergent perspectives at a speech last night at the Hillel Foundation. The discussion opened the first National KOACH conference, where approximately 60 Jewish college students from across the country are converging to discuss the future of Conservative Judaism in the United States. Rabbi Neil Gillman, professor of Philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, presented the enthusiastic audience with several "strategies" for the strengthening of the Conservative movement. Gillman emphasized the importance of what he called "intellectual integrity." Specifically, Gillman stressed "integrating what you're learning into one coherent body of learning" whether it is primarily secular or spiritual. He also said that although Jewish laws are binding, there is some degree of latitute within the Conservative movement by which "ritual forms can evolve and change." Rella Geffen Monson, dean of academic affairs at Gratz College, said that although Jews have been a "smashing success" in terms of attaining goals of assimilation and prosperity, many Jews have failed to maintain a Jewish identity. "The real dilemma of modernity is that we are all Jews by choice," Monson said, adding that Jews must come to terms with their own degree of identification and involvement. Monson presented demographics which indicate what she called a large number of intermarriages and conversions which threaten the future of observant Conservative Judaism in the United States. However, she added that there is a potential for a "Golden Age" of Judaism in America, citing, for example, the turnout at the discussion. Several more discussions and events will be held at the conference, which runs through Sunday. College sophomore Noah Makovsky, the KOACH liason at the University, said he was very pleased with the turnout and that "both speakers were very effective as a way of sparking people's interest."Comments powered by Disqus
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