Posted by: jdiscover | July 30, 2010

Name That Judaism

The Jewish Daily Forward reports that Dr. Arnold Eisen, Chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary, the academic center of Conservative Judaism and my alma mater, told its journalists “that the movement’s name is now being debated. Leaders of Conservative-affiliated organizations want to find a name that will better capture what they want the movement to represent.”

Eisen said that “I am open to suggestions; I am open to a name change.”

Debra Nussbaum Cohen of The Forward decided to solicit suggestions.

Rabbi Shaul Magid, a professor of Jewish studies at Indiana University, proposes that the movement now be called “Historical Renewal,” Rabbi David Wolpe’s suggests that the movement change its name to “Covenantal Judaism.” “It should be called the ‘I Eat Treyf Outside the House’ movement,” said comedian Judy Gold.

Although I would prefer that we not choose this suggestion, I learn a painful truth from it. I love the idea of soliciting new names from those who belong to “Conservative” congregations.  We should have a campaign – Name That Judaism!

For too long, we leaders the leaders of this movement have spoken of the chasm between the laity and the leadership. Let’s work together to discover who we are. Long ago the great Hillel taught in conjunction with a halachic question “for though they (the people of the community) are not prophets, they are the children of prophets. ( Pesachim 66a)”

We are all the children of Prophets! What do we have to say?

Please help. Make your suggestions here. Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi David Rose



  1. How about we just call it Judaism? Changing the name will certainly be a turn-off to people who are already becoming less and less involved religiously. I don’t sense that liberal Jews associate “Conservative” Judaism with whatever they find distasteful about certain politicians. Why go through a name-changing exercise? It’s too confusing to people, and if there’s one thing that is certain, people don’t like change, even if they profess to like it. Change is difficult. Judaism is just fine as it is. Conservative Judaism is perfectly fine.

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