Sunday, December 28, 2014

Why I’m now a former Conservative Jew - because Interdating is now permitted

Times of Israel    My name is Jesse Arm. I am a grandson of a former Conservative rabbi, a former student of a Conservative Jewish day school, a former president of the Detroit chapter of USY, and a former Conservative Jew.

The last of those characteristics is the newest one attached to my identity. In fact, I made the decision to no longer classify myself in this fashion less than 24 hours ago, upon reading of the recent change in standards decided upon at USY’s international convention. Formerly, to take on a leadership position in the USY youth movement, it was considered a requirement that board members commit themselves to refrain from, “relationships which can be construed as interdating.” The language was changed to, “The Officers will strive to model healthy Jewish dating choices. These include recognizing the importance of dating within the Jewish community and treating each person with the recognition that they were created Betzelem Elohim (in the image of God).” The change was made in an attempt to become a more inclusive youth group within a more inclusive movement

Perhaps the crux of why this change so fundamentally irks me is in its lack of forthcoming language. If my former youth group, and in essence my former movement, is willing to compromise its commitment to the preservation of Jewish nationhood in the name of inclusivity, then why doesn’t it just say so? It is clear that this movement is on a path of setting its commitment to its original, cardinal principles aside in an effort to salvage some of its continually dwindling membership and “changing with the times.” The addition of Hebrew words in the language which adopts the permissibility of interdating is truly laughable. Saying that recognition of all humans being created betzelem elohim serves as a justification for interdating and eventually intermarriage, makes about as much sense as me arguing I should be eating delicious bacon in my Sukkah because the Torah says v’samachta b’chageicha, v’hayita ach sameach (we should rejoice in our holiday and we should feel nothing but total happiness). [...]


  1. From the article: This movement should be leading the charge in offering Halachic analysis
    on the issues of embryonic stem cell research, cloning, homosexual
    relationships, and other facets of our society left unaddressed by
    our tradition

    Last I checked, our tradition addresses homosexuality in no uncertain terms.

    Also: It is offensive to me that this
    movement allows itself to make yet another revealing, significant pivot
    away from its core and toward American liberalism.

    It would be funny if it were not so sad.

  2. what is the point of posting this article? is it a kind of relief that Conservative have an OTD problem too?

  3. @Eddie - quite the opposite. The Conservative Movement is going off the derech

  4. So prior to this you considered them ON the derech?

    The orthodox movement has been OTD for quite a while.

  5. They've been off the derech for decades, unfortunately.

  6. @Rational Thinker - I think it is time for you to change your name

  7. How ironic. I was thinking the same about you.

  8. I agree, and it does nto take much to see that they obviously were off the Orthodox derech from the get go. The point being that they have their own "derech", and their own halachic committees, so when some youth go off that derech, it is an OTD problem.

  9. I am Orthodox, for lack of a better term to distinguish myself from non-Orthodox. I do not accept Conservative conversions. Thus, from my perspective, a significant percentage of Conservative Jews are not Halachically Jewish. A non-Jew who keeps Shabbos is in violation of G-d's Will, according to my understanding. It is thus actually a good thing when some who identify as Conservative, but are not Jewish, don't keep the Torah.

  10. Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Chovevei Torah is quoted as saying: “But my dream is to have Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hadar, and Chovevei on one campus, to move in together. We’d each daven in our own ways, but it could transform the Upper West Side.”

    It should be noted that Chovevei has invited Christian clergy to their Bais Medrash, also. For every Jesse Arm who reacts with disgust as the values he was brought up with are trashed, there are others, who may be getting the message that if they push the envelope, sooner or later the establishment will embrace them. Think about it. If a movement is subtly telling its kids that they can bring a non-Jew with them to their Jewish events, then by symmetry the movement is telling the kids that the kids can participate in non-Jewish religious events. It could be that the following may be where we're headed if we don't get a grip on things.

    Future News Feed -- Christianity among Modern Orthodox youth is on the rise.

    "It started as something cool. Wearing a cross under the shirt was a symbol of being 'in'. A group of us got together in the basement of one of our houses. First one girl fished out her cross. Then a few others did the same. Then I took mine out. Every stopped talking and stared."

    Y. noted my surprise, and smiled ruefully.

    "Mine is solid gold, with a cubic zirconium diamond. My attitude is, if I'm going to risk this, I may as well do it in style."

    Y. became quiet. I wanted to pry, my curiosity was burning. I didn't say anything, though. After a long while, Y. took a deep breath and continued.

    "Next, a girl, the youngest there, she was thirteen, began speaking. 'I remember the first time I prayed to "Him". I mean out loud, not just in the back of my mind while Davening in school. Mentioning the "name".' Another girl said, 'The Avodah Zora.' She said it in an exaggerated, sarcastic voice, and everyone laughed."

    Y. went on to tell me that the group agreed to continue to meet on an irregular basis, and that one of the group is now at a well known Modern Orthodox university, and has started an underground group there that meets for "prayer."

    After months of research, I located Z. who told me about this group. "I had been at [this Modern Orthodox university] for only a few weeks. I was a freshman. I noticed my roomates's necklace, and I joked and said, 'That looks like a cross.' She was like totally natural about it, and said 'It is.' I was like, to myself, 'Whoa, Mama!' I think my roommate did it as a rebellion thing. A few weeks later she was leaving on a Sunday morning, and asked me on the way out if I wanted to go to 'church' -- that's what she called it -- and I said, 'Sure'. It was in the living room of one of the shared apartments. There was a kind of Mechitza down the middle of the room, nothing in the front. The Chazan was a girl. I thought that was strange. The tension I always had around the Goyishe holidays, all my fears that I had about one day working for Goyim, while supporting my husband, and how I would interact with them. The relief I felt that I could just be a little bit Christian. I poured my heart out to J."

    Z. blushed a little.

    "I still can't bring myself to say it. But my kids will. I'll make sure of that. I don't want them to have to grow up like I did cringing when hearing all the Kroxmas music."

    Z. caught herself.

    "There, I did it, again!"


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