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History



Early Developments

Although the Jewish Theological Seminary was established in 1886, it was not until 1901 that its alumni formed a professional association, which became known as the Rabbinical Assembly. In 1913, the first congregational assembly of Conservative congregations, the United Synagogue of America, was formed.

Schisms and Sects

The departure of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, an alumnus of the first class of the Jewish Theological Seminary, from the movement was a significant rupture. Dissatisfied with Conservative's traditionalism, though personally committed to Jewish ritual, Kaplan eventually founded the Reconstructionist movement.

Missions and Expansion

Conservative Judaism enjoyed a period of rapid spread across America in the first half of the 20th century largely due to the upwardly mobile movement of many Jews from inner city communities, where Orthodoxy was dominant, to the suburbs. In recent decades, however, the movement's membership has declined precipitously.

Exploration and Conquest

The massive late 19th-century immigration to America of Russian Jews fleeing persecution and pogroms was the greatest single impetus for the success of Conservative Judaism in establishing itself, by the early 20th century, as the largest Jewish denomination in the United States.

Modern Age

Consistent with its founding ideology of responsiveness to "positive historical" change, Conservative Judaism varies greatly in different regions of North America. The Canadian congregations are the most traditional, while those on the American west coast are generally the most liberal.

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