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June 19, 1992 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-06-19

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

N EWS

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Masotti Movement
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i'AMERICAN

SOCJETY
CANCER'

Kiamesha Lake, N.Y.
(JTA) — The Masorti move-
ment, the Israeli branch of
Conservative Judaism, has
lost the large chunk of its
funding that came from the
Jewish Theological Semi-
nary and is now looking
elsewhere for support.
JTS, which had agreed to
raise money on behalf of
Masorti two years ago, cut
off funding in order to bal-
ance its own budget, say
seminary officials.
As a result, Masorti is put-
ting together a staff of
Washington-based paid
fund-raisers who, sup-
plemented by volunteers,
will canvass individuals and
congregations within the
movement to try to make up
the shortfall.
"We're going to become
closer to America now,"
Rabbi Philip Spectre, ex-
ecutive director of Masorti,
said in an interview during
the annual gathering of
Conservative rabbi's, held at
the Concord Hotel here May
17-21.
"Our rabbinic colleagues
are very supportive. They
have realized that they have
the responsibility of funding
us," he said.
And the United Synagogue
of Conservative Judaism,
the movement's congrega-
tional arm, "has embraced
us in a closer way. We're
planning joint fund-raising
efforts," Rabbi Spectre said.
But Masorti may have a
difficult time raising all that
it requires because of the
confusing multiplicity of
Conservative groups
targeting the same popula-
tion. That, in fact, is one of
the primary reasons why
Masorti and JTS agreed to
join fund- raising forces in
the first place.
The organizations signed a
three-year contract two
years ago that was supposed
to provide the Israeli move-
ment with $565,000 annu-
ally, said Masorti President
Allan Warshawsky.
That sum would have
equalled just over a third of
Masorti's $1.5 million 1992
budget, according to Spectre.
The rest comes from founda-
tions, synagogues and in-
dividual contributors in
North and South America.
The seminary was unable
to raise the amount for
Masorti that it was supposed
to, said Spectre, because
"JTS never emphasized the
Israel component of the
campaign properly."

The Masorti movement
helps fund the 40 congrega-
tions under its aegis, as well
as a kibbutz, a moshav and a
Nahal program, or training
program for young Israelis
in the army.
Masorti also lobbies the
Knesset on behalf of re-
ligious pluralism and is cur-
rently suing two municipal
religious councils in order to
get them to allow Conser-
vative Jews to participate.
While cutting off all fun-
ding to Masorti, JTS will
continue to help support the
movement's Beit Midrash,
located just a few blocks
from Masorti's headquarters
in downtown Jerusalem.
The Beit Midrash will
receive $375,000 in fiscal
1993.
It will ordain four Israeli
Conservative rabbis this
year and has a total of about
60 rabbinic, graduate and

The organizations
signed a three-
year contract two
years ago that
was supposed
to provide
$565,000 annually.

other students working
toward degrees.
"JTS is, by definition,
pushing a wedge between
the Beit Midrash and the
rest of the movement in
Israel," said Mr. War-
shawsky. "It's extremely
unhealthy."
Said Rabbi Michael
Greenbaum, vice chancellor
and chief administrative of-
ficer at JTS, "We regret
deeply the tensions that this
has brought about. But I
don't think that this funding c:
decision is the source of ten-
sion between the Beit
Midrash and Masorti.
"There were always lim-
ited resources, and that fact
was, in itself, a cause for
tension," he said. "The
seminary's commitment to
Masorti is unchanged. We
are simply unable to con-
tinue the funding we were
doing."
The Beit Midrash will con-
tinue to receive money from
JTS because it allows Con-
servative rabbinical
students, and others, to
spend a year studying in
Israel, said Rabbi Green-
O
baum.
The Conservative
movement's non-degree-
granting yeshiva, called
Midreshet Yerushalayim,

ci

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