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The Conservative Movement in Judaism: Dilemmas and Opportunities (Suny Series in American Jewish Society in the 1990s) (Suny Series, American Jewish Society in the 1990s) Paperback – September 11, 2000

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Product Details

  • Series: Suny Series, American Jewish Society in the 1990s
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (September 11, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791446905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791446904
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,269,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Daniel J. Elazar was the President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Professor Emeritus of Intergovernmental Relations at Bar-Ilan University. He was the author and editor of more than seventy books, including, with coauthor Harold M. Waller, the National Jewish Book Award Winner Maintaining Consensus: The Canadian Jewish Polity in the Postwar World. Rela Mintz Geffen is Professor of Sociology at Gratz College. She is the editor of several books including Celebration and Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism, and with Marsha Bryan Edelman, Freedom and Responsibility: Exploring the Dilemmas of Jewish Continuity.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on December 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
The most interesting things about this book were not the suggestions (which were probably more interesting for Conservative rabbis, congregational officials, etc. than for me) but the impressive collection of data and the authors' speculation about why the Conservative movement has lost ground.

One especially interesting table addressed denominational changes among Jews, categorizing Jews both by the denominations they were raised in and by the denominations they now choose.

As of 1990, 89% of Orthodox Jews were brought up Orthodox; only 11% came to Orthodoxy from other denominations. (By contrast, only 55-60% of Conservative and Reform Jews were born in their denominations).

If I read the book's data tables correctly, only 23% of the people who were born Orthodox stayed Orthodox; most have become Conservative or Reform. Conservative Jews have a 60% retention rate, and Reform Jews have an 80% retention rate. Conservative Jews who "defect" to other denominations usually move left instead of right: only 0.5% of born Conservatives are now Orthodox, while 27% are now Reform and the rest have no denominational affiliation or are Reconstructionist.

Of course, the authors were using data that is now 15 years old; I wonder if more recent figures are available. (A second edition of this book would be nice, taking into account the 2000 National Jewish Population Survey; for example, the growth of Orthodox outreach may have increased defections to Orthodoxy).

The authors speculate that the decline of Conservative membership has in large part been due to factors beyond anyone's control, such as:

*The decline of the nuclear family and in particular of American Jewish birth rates.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is the most important book for all leaders of the Conservative movement, from synagoguge board members to JTS professors. It accurately depicts the problems of the Conservative movement, but instead of leaving it at that, outlines numerous suggestions to make the Conservative Movement the authentic and halachic movement that it claims to be and has the potential to be.
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