Friday, July 19, 2013

Fisking Moshe Averick's "American Jewry at the Crossroads" Screed

Regardless of whether or not Rabbi Avi Weiss has created "neo-conservatism" or not, one thing is certain: beyond the gratuitous array of aborted fetuses, romance novels, and other pictures, Rabbi Moshe Averick's article "American Jewry at the Crossroads contains a massive number of factual errors
, and large tracts of it could easily have been written by the Reverend Pat Robertson. Rather than excerpt the entire massive article, I will excerpt tracts; my comments are in italics.
On July 11, 1883 a dinner honoring the first graduating class of Hebrew Union College (the rabbinical seminary of Reform Judaism) ... became known in American-Jewish History as “The Treife Banquet.” It marked the final, irrevocable break between the Reform and Conservative movements in the United States.

There was no such thing as the Conservative movement at this point. There were the reformers and the traditionalists, albeit with some people initially straddling the middle. It marked the point of galvanization of traditional Jewish forces to stop the spread of Reform Judaism. While it led directly to the founding of the Jewish Theological Seminary (now the primary rabbinical seminary of Conservative Judaism), JTS was fully traditional (the bounds of Orthodoxy in America not yet having been fully distinctly defined). The founders of JTS included Rabbis Henry Pereira Mendes of the Spanish & Portugese Synagogue Shearith Israel and Rabbi Bernard Drachman. These two rabbis are also known as the founders of the Orthodox Union. No serious split existed until Solomon Schechter (as Averick himself notes)