Conservative Leader Condemns Driving on Shabbos

“The head of Conservative Judaism’s flagship institution is arguing that the movement made a ‘mistake’ when it issued a landmark ruling a half-century ago permitting Jews to drive to synagogue on the Sabbath.

“Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, made his declaration last week in Dallas during a speech at the biennial convention of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. By sanctioning travel on the Sabbath, he said, the Conservative movement ‘gave up on the desirability of living close to the synagogue and creating a Shabbos community.'”

3 thoughts on “Conservative Leader Condemns Driving on Shabbos

  1. AFAIK (through dad who grew up in the conservative movement). The Conservative movement never made any decision on driving on shabbos. Basically there were 2 opinions. One that said you could on the grounds of “Pikuach Nefesh” in that people were moving far away from synagouges and if they weren’t allowed to drive, they would fall away from the religion. And the 2nd that basically said the first was a crock of a teshuva.
    As the conservative movements does, if they dont have a unanimous decision, they publish both and let the rabbis choose to do what they want. Of course since being a conservative rabbi means trying to attract a flock away from reform, most allowed it.
    Similiar things happen today, almost all conservative synagouges that are not egailtarian are loosing membership, because if one is a young couple looking to join a syngagouge where are they going to join? one where the wife can be called up to torah or oen where they aren’t?

  2. Well, sort of. My understanding is that they DID permit driving on Shabbat, because of their understanding that without this ruling, suburban Jews would just stop showing up at shul. Klein describes it as basically the lesser of two evils: either you permit the people to drive, or you permit them to stop coming to synagogue.

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