Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Sacred Cluster

The Jewish Theological Seminary, which is the educational institute of Conservative Judaism, has a page detailing the core values of Conservative Judaism:

The Core Values of Conservative Judaism
by Rabbi Ismar Schorsch

If dogmas or doctrines are the propositional language of a theological system, core values are the felt commitments of lived religion, the refraction of what people practice and profess. To identify them calls for keen observation as well as theoretical analysis.

Conservative Judaism is best understood as a sacred cluster of core values. No single propositional statement comes close to identifying its center of gravity. Nor does Conservative Judaism occupy the center of the contemporary religious spectrum because it is an arbitrary and facile composite of what may be found on the left or the right. On the contrary, its location flows from an organic and coherent world view best captured in terms of core values of relatively equal worth.

There are seven such core values, to my mind, that imprint Conservative Judaism with a principled receptivity to modernity balanced by a deep reverence for tradition. Whereas other movements in modern Judaism rest on a single tenet, such as the autonomy of the individual or the inclusiveness of God's revelation at Sinai (Torah mi-Sinai), Conservative Judaism manifests a kaleidoscopic cluster of discrete and unprioritized core values. Conceptually they fall into two sets - three national and three religious - which are grounded and joined to each other by the overarching presence of God,who represents the seventh and ultimate core value. The dual nature
of Judaism as polity and piety, a world religion that never transcended its national origins, is unified by God. In sum, a total of seven core values corresponding to the most basic number in Judaism's construction of reality.

The Centrality of Modern Israel
Hebrew: The Irreplaceable Language of Jewish Expression
Devotion to the Ideal of Klal Yisrael
The Defining Role of Torah in the Reshaping of Judaism
The Study of Torah
The Governance of Jewish Life by Halakha
Belief in God

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The background image on this page is a Hebrew translation of the verse from Bob Dylan's song  It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), from which the title of this blog is taken. Translation courtesy of Yoram Aharon of Hod-HaSharon's page--found via YudelLine-- which has many Dylan lyrics in Hebrew.