Economy Drives Shul Merges

There’s no longer a significant difference between Reform and Conservative Judaism so why not merge these two movements as well?

Attorney Anita Susan Brenner writes:

This week, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the leader of the Union for Reform Judaism, suggested that due to the post-Madoff economic crisis, some communities "may no longer be able to afford multiple synagogues." The solution is to merge Reform and Conservative shuls in order to survive. (See "Yoffie Sees Shul Mergers" and "To save cash, Yoffie raises possibility of merging Reform, Conservative shuls" ).

New York Jewish Week notes "formal mergers between Conservative and Reform synagogues, movements that retain notable distinctions in theological outlook and liturgy, remain rare. Some eight American synagogues are members of both movements."

All of this struck a nerve because I grew up in a merged shul — Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs, California, which served the needs of all Jews for a 60-mile radius.

When you are a minority in a small town, internal distinctions are less significant. Reform. Conservative. Orthodox. Unaffliated. Secular. Survivors. Veterans. Yiddish-speakers. Poets. Socialists. Conservatives. Those who doubt God and those who do not. We were all Jews. Where I grew up, we all went to one shul.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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