Years ago after the Conservative synagogue I grew up in went (mostly) egalitarian, I was treated to a speech by one of the leaders of women-first group about how suddenly counting women to a minyan was not only a very important part of calling oneself a Conservative Jew but was also an affirming way to call oneself traditional.
"We have," he announced solemnly, "a tradition of change."
The group listening then broke down into the two sides. One side nodded at his sage words. Yes, this way important, they said, because those damned Orthodox always hog the word "tradition" for themselves.
And the other side, the ones with their brains on, thought: how can anyone believe this?
I mean really, a tradition of change? Ultimately flexibility? But what if the change I want to bring in is that I don't want further change? If I'm not allowed, doesn't that show inflexibility on the part of the tradition? Isn't that what we supposedly hate about the Orthodox?
I thought back to that speech when I read this article today:
The international president of the Conservative movement’s synagogue arm has agreed to meet with a group of influential rabbis, cantors and lay leaders pressing for swift and radical change.
The official, Raymond Goldstein of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, said the meeting would be held to help develop “a strategic plan for renewing the Conservative movement,” but that it would have to wait until after his organization selects a new executive vice president. He said negotiations are underway with one of a handful of candidates who were interviewed, and that he hoped to have the process “wrapped up” as early as next week.
Consider that over the last thirty years, the Conservatives have endorsed female and gay rabbis, as well as abandoned the pretence of being at all loyal to even the Written Torah. With the exception of some areas of ritual performance, they are indistinguishable from the Reformers. And all these great ideas have been touted as renewal, rebirth, amazing progressive progress. What on earth could they have left to renew?