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March 15, 1985 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-03-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

NEWS

Conservative
Mark In Israel

,D

BY CHARLES HOFFMAN

Special to The Jewish News

Fifteen years ago this scene
would have been hard to imagine:
the leaders of the Conservative
movement in North America sit-
ting around a table trying to fig-
ure out ways to interest young
American Jews in settling on a
kibbutz in Israel. In fact, it would
have been hard to imagine the
leadership of any major American
Jewish organization even discuss-
ing aliyah at that time, much less
actively encouraging its members
to move to Israel.
But that scene is now a real and
recurring one. The kibbutz in
question is the Conservative
movement's very own Kibbutz
Hanaton, established by young
people from America and Israel of
Conservative background.
The concern of the movement
for its fledgling kibbutz reflects
its deepening involvement in Is-
rael since the late 1960s. The
Conservative movement always
supported Israel and Zionism. But
it is only in the last 15 years or so
that a significant Conservative
presence in Israel has been
created, and that the movement
in North America has undertaken
to support this presence through
steady infusions of money, people
and political support.
The recent establishment of
Kibbutz Hanaton in the rolling
hills of the central Galilee means
that the Conservative movement
has now literally struck roots in
the soil of Eretz Yisrael. It is also
symbolic that the establishment
of the kibbutz coincided with the
opening of a Conservative rabbin-
ical seminary in Jerusalem. The
Seminary for Judaic Studies as-
pires to produce a "made in Israel"
type of spiritual leader who will
bring the message of Jewish tra-
dition to the broad segment of the
Israeli public that seeks more
Jewish content in its life, but not
under an Orthodox label.
The deepening involvement of
the Conservative movement in Is-
rael may come as a surprise to
some people, considering the
negative attitude of the country's
Orthodox religious authorities to
the Conservative and Reform
movements. After all, the Or-
thodox authorities do not recog-
nize either movement nor do they
allow Conservative or Reform
rabbis to officiate at weddings.
But neither this policy of non-
recognition nor the occasional
outbursts of hostility against the
Conservative movement by Or-
thodox extremists have stopped
the movement from making pro-
gress in the last 15 years. The
Conservative movement in Israel,
known as the Mesorati movement
(from the Hebrew word masoret,
or tradition) has grown since 1967
from a handful of congregations to
40 congregations today. The
movement has 10,000 members
all over the country, including a
vibrant youth movement.
The Mesorati movement is

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Charles Hoffman is a reporter for
the "Jerusalem Post" and is
currently on leave working for the
department of Israel Affairs and
Aliyah for the United Synagogue
movement. He grew up in Texas
and made aliyah in 1970.

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Friday, March 15, 1985

9

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