Volume 17 Number 57
                       Produced: Wed Dec 28 18:04:01 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia - Issues re: Conservative Practices
         [Avi Feldblum]
Conservative and Reform Rabbis
Conservative Congregations and Kashrut
         [Barry Lerner]
Conservative shuls and kashrut
         [Richard Friedman]
Microphones and Kashrus
         [David Charlap]
Reform rabbi getting Aliya
         [Jeff Woolf]


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum>
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 1994 18:00:55 -0500
Subject: Administrivia - Issues re: Conservative Practices

I would like to try and say a few words before we have a topic develop
in a manner that will not be productive, in my view. It is quite clear
to everyone that this list operates under the assumption of the validity
and binding obligation of Halakha as defined under what might be called
the broad Orthodox umbrella. As such, we are not here to discuss the
legitimacy of the Conservative or Reform movements/congregations/practices. 
There was a question raised concerning someone who follows Orthodox
practices going to a Conservative Synogogue for a simcha and the issue
of the Kashrut of the food was raised. While there are some (or many) on
the list who hold that this in itself is wrong, there may be others who
do not agree with that, and this is an issue that probably comes up in
one form or another for many of us that have non-Orthodox relatives or
friends. As such, I feel it is a valid issue to discuss. Certain
statements about the state of kashrut in Conservative shuls have been
made, and in this issue, at least one response from the inside of that
"side of the house" is presented. I think it is important enough for
many of us who have very little contact with the Conservative movement
to at least be aware of the variation that is found there, just as there
is quite a variation within orthodoxy. I ask people to read it for the
information that is presented there.

I would like to remind everyone that the goal of the list is to have a
non-confrontational dialog. The environment of this dialog must be one
that does not challenge our commitment to Torah and Mitzvot, and I try
to keep it "comfortable" to those in this broad umbrella that we call
Orthodox. That does not mean that some articles will not make you feel
uncomfortable, and to the extent that any one of us is on some "edge" of
this umbrella we may find more "uncomfort" than people in the
"center". However I think we have a very unusual and valuable forum here
and I would like to keep it so and enhance it.

So, after rambling for too long, posting the message below from the
Rabbi of a Conservative congregation does not mean that mail-jewish
views the Conservative movement within the above "umbrella", but as
moderator of mail-jewish I will accept information and postings that I
feel are relevant to our discussion from wherever they may come.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator
<mljewish@...> or feldblum@cnj.digex.net


From: nelson%<bnlcl6.dnet@...> (M.C.Katzenelson)
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 94 12:59:09 -0500
Subject: Conservative and Reform Rabbis

It seems that an important issue has been forgotten in recent
discussions regarding conservative "rabbis" and their various
"functions", ceremonies, and kashrut.

One is not permitted to grant recognition to the conservative or reform
"rabbinate" or "rabbonim". This includes attending their services and
ceremonies, accepting their supervision of kashrut, etc.  Prominent
among the reasons for this prohibition, is that they are considered as
denying the divine origin of Torah.

As taught by Rav A. Osdoba (Bet Din Tzedek, Crown Heights), it is
important that it be seen that such is not accepted.  Also taught by Rav
Osdoba, to save from intermarriage, the best approach is educate the
Jew.  I consider the two topics related.



From: <BDLERNER@...> (Barry Lerner)
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 1994 10:28:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Conservative Congregations and Kashrut

Regarding Conservative congregations and their observance of kashrut, the 
following thoughts come to mind:
1. In Conservative congregations as in any other institution, one has to 
make assumptions and also ask regarding the standards of kashrut.  It 
seems to me that some of the discussion is politically based, rather than 
halachically focussed.  If halacha is the issue, then the question should 
be framed regarding violations of Shabbat on the part of the institution 
rather than the affiliation of the congregation or the Rabbi.
2. How reliable is a Conservative congregation with an Orthodox graduate? 
Is it more or less reliable in terms of religious principle and 
consistency of observance than a Conservative congregation with a 
Conservative graduate (of a Conservative institution, eg. JTSA) and not 
just one who has become a member of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly?
3. How reliable is the kashrut of a caterer who has an Orthodox rav 
hamachshir and Orthodox mashgiach, but operates with total disdain for 
Shabbat, including preparation of food on Shabbat?  As a congregational 
Rabbi for many years in the New York area, I have seen and discovered 
more than I ever wanted to know about many different catering 
establishments and synagogues - first hand experiences.  Again and again 
I was told, as long as the food is kosher according to halacha, then it 
is irrelevant what are the other practices of the institution. I have 
decided often to refrain from eating out of suspicion of "bishul b'shabbat."
4. Regarding Esther who is concerned about a cousin visiting a Christmas 
dinner. Many people are affiliated. with my congregation and identify as 
Conservative Jews, knowing that I would not endorse their private 
decisions of kashrut, Shabbat, etc. in their homes, but nonetheless they 
have agreed to congregational standards for Shabbat, kashrut, education, 
etc., obviously standards they do not yet observe in their own lives but 
which respect in order for the synagogue to be a welcoming and 
comfortable place for others who are more observant than they.  But, there 
are those who attend services, eg. attend Yizkor, come for a yahrzeit, or 
more likely purchase a ticket for the High Holy Days, and they claim they 
are affiliated Conservative Jews - a claim I don't accept and don't respect.
5. While we do not exclude inter-faith couples in our congregation, as 
most congregations, we only accept for membership the Jewish partner. The 
children are obligated to be converted properly and to receive a Jewish 
education. The non-Jewish partner is not able to accept a ritual role in 
worship and they don't hold any position of leadership in the 
congregation, and that is discussed with both partners before they 
affiliate - and a written record of that agreement kept in the membership 
file.  If individuals were to hold a private meal, call it whatever they 
wish, observe or not observe kashrut, and even invite only Jews, it is a 
private decision and they know better than to invite my family or others 
who are known to be observant, to say nothing of "maris eyin" to expect 
congregational leadership to give an implicit imprimateur by attending. 
When I have had to be present at a non-kosher function, or one which does 
not meet my standards of kashrut, I do not even eat a tv dinner. 
6. A number of times in my experience, Jewish organizations have held 
dinners and parties at which I could not eat, and others who professed 
observance and traditional congregational affiliation did eat. This in 
spite of my objections and the request that they utilize my congregation 
without fees and a kosher caterer (under reliable hashgacha).  On the 
other hand, I have had wonderful experiences where non-Jews and 
especially Christian clergy have provided kosher food in order for us all 
to meet and be comfortable!!  One can't generalize about groups and 
labels, and one can always hope.
7. Further, what defines Orthodox practice?  In my experience on Long 
Island, it was a standing observation that the members of the Orthodox 
schul parked down the street or in the open Conservative parking lot on 
Shabbat and then walk the block or two to worship in the Orthodox schul, 
receiving honors, recognition, etc.
8. Lastly, it is a matter of record that the Conservative Rabbinate 
withdrew hashgacha from at least one catering facility in the northeast 
because they insisted on permitting smoking, live music, candles, 
photography, etc. As soon as the Rabbinical Assembly-United Synagogue 
withdrew in order to maintain consistency and a high public standard of 
kashrut and Shabbat observance, the caterer continued in business under 
what claimed to be reliable kashrut supervision.  I don't question the 
actual kashrut practices and standards, which are glatt; that's not my 
intention. And since I can't attend a reception there on Shabbat or Yom 
Tov, I am not worried about my personal standards being denied. How is it 
possible that the Orthodox Shomer Shabbat community allows this - and I 
believe other situations to exist - and then condemn or at the least 
question a Conservative congregation and its Rabbi which uses a 
microphone on Shabbat?



From: Richard Friedman <RF@...>
Date: 28 Dec 1994 14:49:14 GMT
Subject: Conservative shuls and kashrut

     A number of recent postings have commented on standards and
requirements of kashrut in Conservative synagogues.  Some of these
postings have evidenced either insufficient knowledge or insufficient
care in expression.  Esther Posen's comment in v17n54 especially moves
me to reply.

     She states that, "There is a difference between an Orthodox and
Conservative affiliation," and, "Although there may be some blurring of
the lines an Orthodox Jew is an Orthodox Jew."  These statements suggest
a blithe assumption that one can reliably infer the level and nature of
an individual's or institution's halachic standards from his/her/its
movement affiliation alone.  Such inferences are simply not as valid as
she suggests.

     With respect to institutions, Elise Braverman's posting in the same
issue already shows this; I will only add that I am a member of a
Conservative congregation that does _not_ allow cheese or wine without
one of the standard hechsherim.

     Similar inferences about individuals are also hazardous.  The fact
that a particular Jew has a Conservative rather than an Orthodox
affiliation does _not_ necessarily mean much about his or her observance
standards.  Not all Jews who have a Conservative affiliation drink Gallo
wine, eat Kraft cheese, or drive to shul.  It should not be necessary to
point out that not all Jews with Orthodox affiliations refrain from such

     I do not wish to be understood as making any more extravagant claim
than this:  that the movement affiliation of an institution or an
individual does not necessarily indicate its/his/her halachic observance


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 94 11:06:41 EST
Subject: Re: Microphones and Kashrus

Mark Press <PRESS@...> writes:
>The problem of the microphone, as has already been noted is complex,
>especially since the introduction of transistorized amplifiers and the
>elimination of vacuum tubes and heated filaments.  There are certainly
>conditions under which the use of contemporary public address systems
>would be no more than an issur d'rabbonon and quite possibly permissible.
>In this connection I want to cite a tshuva I saw many years ago from a
>Rov universally recognized in all circles as one of the gdolei hador in
>which he permitted an  American Rov to use a microphone under specific
>conditions but insisted that his name not be publicly connected with
>the heter.  The heter was issued at a time when amplifiers still used
>vacuum tubes.

Well, from what I've heard, the problem isn't so much with using the
PA system, but the purpose you use it for.  For instance, there's
nothing wrong with an amplifier and speakers, as long as the system is
turned on (and all the controls adjusted) before Shabbat.  The problem
is with the microphone, since most mics generate current when they're
spoken into.  However, if you have a microphone that doesn't generate
any current (Zomet, in Israel, has one such mic) then there isn't a

But this doesn't automatically permit it for all cases.  For davening
and Torah reading, it still can't be used.  Not because Shabbat is
being violated, but because people in the congregation do not fulfil
their obligations if they hear amplified sound.  They must hear the
reader's actual voice.

Of couse, CYLOR.


From: Jeff Woolf <F12043@...>
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 94 09:39:26 IST
Subject: Re: Reform rabbi getting Aliya

The question of whether a Reform rabbi may get an Aliya is dependent
upon the determination of whether he may be counted in a minyan and/or
be honored by the community. In both cases, the bottom line
consideration IMHO is whether he is considered a 'rebel' or a 'rasha.'
Both require knowledge of Traditional Judaism and an axiological
opposition thereto based on knowledge. In the case of the overwhelming
majority of Reform rabbis that I have met, while the axiological
rebellion might be there, the knowledge is not. As a result they are not
rebelling against anything real, and hence are not reshaim. My intuitive
call is that if a Hillul HaShem would be involved in slighting him then
at least some honor should be arranged for him (Petichat
Heichal). Jeffrey Woolf


End of Volume 17 Issue 57