Initially in Germany in the 1850s, under the title of "Historical Judaism," and in the United States in the 1880s, Conservative Judaism emerged as a moderately traditionalist response to what its founders viewed as the excessive departures from Jewish law and rituals made by Reform Judaism.
Early Conservative Judaism was mainly influenced by the theology of a group of modernizing, but ritually traditionalist, rabbis and Jewish historians in Germany, who founded the Judisch-Theologisches Serminar in Breslau in 1847 in reaction to the radicalism of the early Reform movement.
The Conservative movement regards the German rabbi, Zacharias Frankel of Breslau, as its theological patriarch, and Dr. Solomon Schechter, President of the Jewish Theological Seminary in the early 20th century, as the institutional founder of the movement in America.
While accepting the findings of modern, critical biblical scholarship, Conservative Judaism still considers the Torah to be divinely inspired, if not textually immaculate. Conservative Judaism also encourages study of the Talmud and rabbinic codes, but treats their legal rulings more loosely than does Orthodox Judaism.
True to its establishment as a movement that safeguards the traditions of rabbinical Judaism, while remaining open to adaptations to historical changes, the Conservative movement has never ceased to evolve in response to major social trends, most recently in the areas of gender egalitarianism and recognition of equal rights for homosexuals.