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Ethics and Community

Community Organization

American Conservative Judaism is the most highly organized and disciplined of the contemporary denominations of Judaism. Members of the United Synagogues of America are required to employ only members of the movement's Rabbinical Assembly.


Conservative rabbis are trained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where there is less focus on traditional Talmudic learning and more emphasis on training in ethics, pastoral skills, and preaching. Most Conservative congregations also employ full-time cantors to lead services and train Bar and Bat Mitzvah students.

Principles of Moral Thought and Action

While basing their teachings loosely on the Torah and rabbinic traditions, Conservative ethicists, such as Elliot Dorf, tend to be far more liberal and original in their positions and interpretations of Jewish law than their Orthodox counterparts.

Vision for Society

Since the era of Solomon Shechter, the Conservative movement has been the most Zionistic of the three major Jewish denominations. Still, most Conservative rabbis have a universal outlook, strongly support interfaith dialogue, and tend to hold liberal positions on the major issues of the day.

Gender and Sexuality

The most dramatic and significant difference between the Conservative and Orthodox movements centers on the role of women in Jewish religious life. Except for a few traditionalist holdouts, mostly in Canada, almost all Conservative synagogues practice full gender egalitarianism.