In the Driver's Seat: Rabbinic Authority in Post-War America

By Jenna Weissman-Joselit

Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) Press, 2004

Joeselit's article describes the internal battle within the Conservative Rabbinate in the 1950s and early 1960s over the laity's ability to drive to synagogue on the Sabbath. Ultimately, this conflict, which pitted sociology (namely, American style suburban living) against Jewish law, is presented by the author as one that was markedly unwinnable. Though the Conservative Rabbinate eventually allowed Conservative Jews to drive to synagogue in the hope that it would be the means to the end of a "total program of Jewish living," the author concludes by explaining how much of the efforts of the Conservative Rabbinical elite fell on deaf ears, and how the Conservative rabbinate was ultimately forced to temper its fidelity to Jewish law. They were forced to seek out an alternative, more American source of moral authority, such as public speaking, institution building, scholarship or pastoral work.

Topic: Halakha, Ritual, Residential Patterns, Jewish Law, Masorti Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Leadership, Authority, Assimilation, Synagogues and Congregations

Name of Publication: Jewish Religious Leadership: Image and Reality

Editor: Wertheimer, Jack

Volume/Issue: Vol.2

Page Number(s): 659-670

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Genre: Book Chapter

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Weissman-Joselit, Jenna. In the Driver's Seat: Rabbinic Authority in Post-War America. Jewish Religious Leadership: Image and Reality. Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) Press. 2004: 659-670. http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=5596


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