…can’t stay in Vegas! Not this time. After joining with my friends and colleagues of the Rabbinical Assembly at our convention in Las Vegas this week, I hope we all bring our determination and positive spirits home. Admittedly, Las Vegas is an unusual convention location for our group.
Remember Whoopi Goldberg’s old movie, Sister Act? Seeing hundreds of rabbis walking through the casino reminded me of the nuns in that film chasing through a Reno casino after their friend Delores, Whoopi’s character. Trust me, there are no other similarities than this! The route from our hotel rooms to the conference center did go through the casino. I didn’t hear any reports of big winnings.
I did hear conversations about our challenges and opportunities in a “post-denominational” Jewish community. I heard discussions about understanding demographic and social trends in American Jewish life. I also heard reports about needed structural changes to the organizations of Conservative Judaism. Changes that potentially may help us advocate for our worldview and engage our congregations and members. We’ll see.
The most moving words I heard expressed the genuine passion and dedication of my colleagues for who we are and what we do. We are a group of Conservative rabbis who believe deeply in what we teach and represent. We know above all else that religious movements are about people and their ideals. Together, we also know so many individuals who yearn to be rooted in communities that support and inspire them. We meet people everyday seeking to participate in communities that model Jewish values, enable Jewish experiences, and enrich personal lives.
As Conservative Jews, we live in the vital religious center of the Jewish community. We find God’s presence by embracing Jewish tradition with religious intensity and purpose. We interpret the past to find personal meaning in the present. We bring intellectual honesty, historical discovery, human wisdom, and egalitarian principles to the practice and celebration of Judaism. We strive to welcome everyone who desires this approach to Judaism.
The Conservative/Masorti Movement is a collection of religious adherents who share in a vision of God, Torah, and Israel for our world. We are Jews who mediate meaning for our lives, expressing our faith and hopes through sacred communities like the one we share together here at Chizuk Amuno Congregation.
This time, what happened in Vegas can’t stay in Vegas because what happens in our synagogue communities matters much more.