Conservative movement to emphasize importance of Jewish law

Posted: Friday, October 31, 2003

DALLAS (AP) The head of the arm of Conservative Judaism representing congregations said the movement must do more to inspire members to follow Jewish law, such as keeping kosher and lighting Sabbath candles.

Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, said he was forming a committee of clergy and lay people to help congregations encourage greater observance among Jews.

Epstein made the announcement Tuesday at United Synagogue's biennial convention in Dallas. The group represents about 760 synagogues.

''There is a gap, a chasm between what we say and what most people do,'' Epstein said. Most Conservative Jews find religious law ''irrelevant,'' he said.

He said some religious leaders have been reluctant to discuss such obligations for fear of driving away members, but he predicted the new emphasis would inspire more Jews to stay in the Conservative movement.

The Conservative branch obeys most traditions while allowing some innovation to adapt to the modern world. It is larger than the strict Orthodox, but slightly smaller than the more liberal Reform branch.

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