Friedmans assessment of threats challenges and

This new, post-Cold War era is dominated by globalization, a dynamic process that involves the integration of national markets through international trade exports and importsforeign direct investment ownership and control of a company located in a foreign countryand portfolio investment ownership of stocks, bonds, or other financial instruments. Based on free-market capitalism and powered by advances in telecommunications microchips, satellites, fiber optics, and the internettransportation, and finance, globalization enables companies and individuals to establish relationships anywhere in the world.

Friedmans assessment of threats challenges and

Although the Mesader Kedushin the officiating rabbi was Orthodox, the Conservative rabbi was quite involved with various Halachic minutia throughout the course of the evening …none under the Chupah.

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Without getting into details, I have to say that I was impressed. The rabbi was very knowledgeable in Halacha and insisted that it be followed. If one did not know that he was a Conservative rabbi, one could have easily thought he was Orthodox… and not especially left wing either.

I happen to know that this rabbi came through the ranks of the Conservative movement. His Shul is fairly large and I would guess consists mostly of non observant by Orthodox standards Jews. This got me to thinking about the origins of the Conservative movement.

Those founders wanted to produce a rabbinate that was in harmony with American values and American culture… in order to better relate to the melting pot mentality of those days. Although the movement has since undergone changes whereby questionable theologies have become acceptable… I do not believe that was part of the original equation and did not become so until the late Mordechai Kaplan advanced his radical ideas about the nature of God and the Jewish people.

Friedmans assessment of threats challenges and

Although radical views are not required in Conservative Judaism, they are now accepted or at least tolerated. In any case, I think one can fairly say that Conservative rabbis like the one at the wedding are observant and see themselves in many ways like Kiruv professionals for their members.

Not that they are able to get their members to observe Shabbos. But that they try and get them to be as observant as possible without alienating them from the Shul. Oddly enough, this is the philosophy of Lubavitch.

Friedmans assessment of threats challenges and

Although their primary focus is on making as many Jews as possible religious Lubavitchers, they do things one step at a time and often do not succeed beyond merely making non observant Jews merely Lubavitivch friendly. They will say that we all fall short of perfection and that we should all try and improve in our observances… even those of us who are Shomer Shabbos!

I think the Conservative rabbi sees himself and his role in the same way.

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I further believe that he would be overjoyed if any of his congregants become Orthodox via Chabad or any other Orthodox Kiruv group. Indeed he was effusive with praise for this young couple who were going to spend their first year of marriage in Israel with the husband spending time in a yeshiva.

I realize of course that not all Conservative rabbis are like this. I bring all this up in light of an editorial by Forward editor Jane Eisner.

Her point was that the many unaffiliated Jews are increasingly opting out of their Judaism.

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From the Forward article: The statistics that Ms. Eisner quotes in her editorial are illustrative of the problem. The trend is towards the growth of Orthodoxy and the shrinkage of everything else. But instead of being triumphalist, I think we Orthodox Jews are better served by reflecting on this massive attrition by so many Jews from Judaism… and seeing if there is anything we can do about it.

To my mind it is tragic that we are losing so many Jews to an assimilation that sees any and all religion as archaic and useless. Thankfully there is Chabad and other Kiruv organizations that do not feel this way. But the people they reach are all a drop in the bucket compared to attrition numbers.

Which brings me back to the Conservative rabbi I mentioned at the beginning of this article. The fact is that if there was some way we could work together with people like him, I think our attempts at outreach would be far more successful.

Altruistic Conservative rabbis like him I am sure would be eager to do that. I am convinced that any and every non observant Jew that becomes Orthodox would be a success story for him — if he were in some way involved with an Orthodox Kiruv movement — even it were nothing more than steering teenagers to NCSY and through them they became observant, that would be considered a victory for him.

I realize there are restrictions involved because of issues having to do with validation. These issues are real. Virtually all the Gedolim of previous generations, including Rav Soloveitchik, forbade any religious collaboration with heterodox rabbis for fear of giving them tacit recognition.

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One may argue that conditions are different now and since these movements are in decline there is little danger of our legitimizing them in any meaningful way.I agree with Friedman’s assessment that the world is flat.

According to Friedman a "flat world" mean that there is now a level global competitive playing field. The Heritage Foundation's highest honor is the Clare Boothe Luce Award, named for the brilliant playwright, author, Congresswoman, and presiden­tial adviser who was one of the wisest trustees.

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In fact, looked at from an economic perspective, the boom phase is the one that should worry us.

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