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Conservative Beliefs

Astor, Carl. ...Who Makes People Different 1985. United Synagogue Bookservice. [This sourcebook discusses traditional sources about the disabled (Biblical, Midrashic, Rabbinic, and Halakhic) and examines modern views, theological implications and current programs.]

Brown, Steven. Reclaiming Our Legacy. United Synagogue Bookservice. [Encourages the study of Talmud Torah by showing similarity with and differences from secular study.]

Cytron, Barry and Schwartz, Earl. When Life Is In The Balance. United Synagogue Bookservice. [Designed to aid in the evaluation of alternatives in dealing with some of the most difficult decisions about living and dying. Issues such as abortion, suicide, and euthanasia are discussed with sensitivity in the context of Jewish tradition and the wisdom of other cultures.]

Dorff, Elliot. Conservative Judaism: Our Ancestors to Our Descendants. Revised edition, 1996. USCJ, NY. [An authoritative sourcebook on the origins and philosophy of the Conservative Movement. Covers the development of Judaism from the time of the Torah to enlightenment, and discusses the theology and philosophy of the Jewish movements that developed in response to the modern age. Explains Conservative Judaism's philosophy on halakha, aggada, social issues and revelation.]

Dorff, Elliott. Knowing God: Jewish Journeys to the Unknowable. ISBN: 1568219644, Jason Aronson Publishers, 1996. Paperback. ISBN 1-568219-64-4. [Contemporary Jews find meaning in Judaism's family and communal orientation, its rituals, culture, and moral values. However many do not understand the Jewish concept of God, and their belief in God rests on childhood Hebrew school images of the Allmighty. In response, Rabbi Dorff probes what we as adults can know about God through human reason, human and Divine words, and human and Divine action. Without assuming a background in philosophy, he takes us through some of the major philosophical options and conundrums in using each of these sources of knowledge about God, and the images of God that result. This results in a vibrant Jewish faith, one that takes due regard for both the emotional and intellectual sides of our being.]
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Dorff, Elliot. Matters of Life and Death: Jewish Bio-Ethics. Jewish Publication Society, 1998. Hardcover. ISBN 0-827606-47-8. [Discusses modern medical ethical dilemmas from a Conservative Jewish point of view, which advocates adherence to traditional Judaism along with a modern understanding. In the book's first section, Dorff summarizes the beliefs underlying Jewish medical ethics. Dorff then addresses a number of issues,including: infertility, artificial insemination, genetic engineering, cloning, surrogate motherhood, and birth control. Also discusses living wills, hospice care, euthanasia, organ donation, autopsy and the distribution of health care.]
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Dorff, Elliott. This Is My Beloved, This Is My Friend: A Rabbinic Letter on Intimate Relations. Rabbinical Assembly. [This is the official pastoral letter from the RA to the laity of the Conservative movement, dealing with all areas of human sexuality.]

Dorff, Elliot N. (ed); Newman, Louis E. (ed.) Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader. Oxford Univ Press; 1998. Paperback. ISBN 0-195114-67-1. [Conservative]
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Dorff, Elliot N. The Unfolding Tradition : Jewish Law After Sinai. # Aviv Press (November 25, 2005). ISBN: 0916219291. [Conservative]
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Elazar, Daniel Judah; Geffen, Rela Mintz. The Conservative Movement in Judaism: Dilemmas and Opportunities (Suny Series in American Jewish Society in the 1990s). State Univ of New York Pr; 2000. Hardcover. ISBN 0-791446-89-1.
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Gillman, Neil. Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew. Jewish Publication Society. 1990. Paperback, 1992. 296 pp. ISBN 0-827604-03-3. [For those seeking answers to the most difficult questions about religion today: How do we know there is a God? How could God allow the Holocaust to happen? Why do we need ritual?]
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Gillman, Neil. The Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought Jewish Lights Publishing. Hardcover, 1997, 336 pages, ISBN 1-879045-61-3. Paperback, 2000, 336 pages, ISBN 1-580230-81-4. [Offers an original and compelling argument that Judaism not only presents us with rich ideas on this subject - but delivers a deathblow to death itself. Combining scholarship with historical, theological and liturgical insights, Gillman outlines the evolution of Jewish thought about bodily resurrection and spiritual immortality. Beginning with the near-silence of the Bible on the afterlife, he traces the development of these two doctrines through Jewish history. He also describes why today, somewhat surprisingly, more contemporary Jewish scholars - including Gillman - have reaffirmed a notion of resurrection.]
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Golinkin, Daniel. Halakhaha for Our Time: A Conservative Approach. United Synagogue Book Service; 1991, 1992. Paperback. ISBN 0-838131-13-1.
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Golinkin, David. An Index of Conservative Responsa and Practical Halakhic Studies, 1917-1990. New York NY: The Rabbinical Assembly. 1992.

Gordis, Robert. Judaic Ethics for a Lawless World (Moreshet Series, Vol 12). Ktav Publishing House; 1986. Hardcover. ISBN 0-873340-34-5. [An approach to contemporary problems based on Jewish ethics. Deals with the principles of natural law, and the dynamic world view of Judaism.]
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Gordis, Robert; Gelb, Max (ed). Understanding Conservative Judaism. Ktav Publishing House; 1978, 1979. Hardcover. ISBN 0-870686-80-1.
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Gutin, Jules. Rejoice With Jerusalem. 1984 revised edition. United Synagogue Bookservice. [This sourcebook combines a historical survey of Jerusalem over the ages with an examination of Jerusalem's meaning to modern Jewry, especially as to Conservative Jews.]

Harlow, Jules. The Bond Of Life (A Book For Mourners). RA. [A guide for the mourner, including the hows and whys of mourning rituals, inspirational reflections, traditional sources, and an essay on the psychology of grief. Contains the complete Morning, Afternoon, and Evening prayer services, in Hebrew and English, for the house of mourning.]

Harlow, Jules. Lessons from Our Living Past. Behrman House; 1972. Paperback. ISBN 0-874410-85-1.
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Herberg, Will; Gillman, Neil (intro.). Judaism and Modern Man: An Interpretation of Jewish Religion (Jewish Lights Classic Reprint). Jewish Lights Pub; 1997. Paperback. Reprint edition. ISBN 1-879045-87-7.
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Heschel, Abraham. God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism. Harper Torchbook. 1966. Reprinted 1997, Noonday Press. 464 pp. ISBN 0-374513-31-7. [The companion volume to "Man is not Alone", this book combines scholarship with reverence as Heschel elucidates the nature of religious thought. Section one discusses ways to God's Presence, and the legacy of wonder that religion gives. Section two deals with the idea of Revelation and prophetic inspiration, and discusses revelation as a process as opposed to an event. Section three discusses a Jew's response to the Jewish Religion; there is a study and rejection of the idea that mere faith (without law) alone is enough, and a cautioning against of those rabbis that add too many hedges to the law. Discusses the need to correlate ritual observance with sprituality and love, and the importance of kavanah (intention) when performing mitzvot.]
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Heschel, Abramham. Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion Noonday Press, 1997. Paperback. 320 pages. ISBN 0-374513-28-7. [A profound work that reflects on how man can apprehend God and have an encounter with the ineffable, and the radical amazement that man experiences when experiencing the presence of the Divine. Themes include the problems of doubts and faith; What Judaism means by teaching that God is One; The essence of man and the problem of man's needs; The definition of religion in general, and of Judaism in specific, man's yearning for spirituality; Judaism as a pattern for life, and a study of piety.]
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Klein, Isaac. A Time to Be Born, A Time To Die. UCSJ. [A compilation of Jewish attitudes and practices regarding death. Deals with such issues as illness, euthanasia, and organ transplants. Includes readings for the bereaved family.]

Kling, Simcha. The People and Its Land United Synagogue Bookservice. [Discusses the attachment of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. The book includes the Biblical, Rabbinic, pre-modern, and modern periods. Includes a special section about Zionism and the Conservative Movement.]

Kling, Simcha; Perkins, Carl M. Embracing Judaism. The Rabbinical Assembly; 1999. Paperback. 2nd Revised Edition. ISBN 0-916219-15-1.
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Nadell, Pamela S. Conservative Judaism in America. Greenwood Publishing Group; 1988. Hardcover. ISBN 0-313242-05-4.
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Schecter, Solomon. Studies in Judaism: First Series. Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia PA. 1896

Schecter, Solomon. Studies in Judaism: Second Series. Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia PA 1908.

Schecter, Solomon. Studies in Judaism: Third Series. Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia PA 1924.

Schechter, Solomon; Finkelstein, Louis. Some Aspects of Rabbinic Theology. Schocken Books, New York. 1961. Jewish Lights Pub; 1999. Paperback. Reprint edition. ISBN 1-879045-24-9. [With a New Introduction by Neil Gillman, Including the Original Preface of 1909 and the Introduction by Louis Finkelstein]
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Schechter, Solomon. Aspects of Rabbinic Theology: Major Concepts of the Talmud. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc; 1998. Paperback. ISBN 1-565632-88-5.
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Waxman, Mordechai (ed.). Tradition and Change - The Development of Conservative Judaism. The Burning Bush Press, New York (copyright 1958, Rabbinical Assembly of America). Library of Congress Card No. 54-8409 (No ISBN) [Contains many of the classic conservative responsa, including riding of Shabbat and electricity is not fire.]

Wertheimer, Jack (ed). Jews in the Center: Conservative Synagogues and Their Members. Rutgers Univ Press; 2000. Hardcover. ISBN 0-813528-21-6. [This book seeks to understand how synagogues function as congregations and to what extent they allow individual expression. By focusing on a mainstream population, this book sheds light on religiously active people who generally receive scant attention: those in the center, who neither retreat from society nor blur the boundaries between their religion and modern American culture.]
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Zemer, Moshe. Evolving Halakhah: A Progressive Approach to Traditional Jewish Law. Jewish Lights Pub; 1999. Hardcover. ISBN 1-580230-02-4.
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Golinkin, David (ed.) The Responsa of Prof. Louis Ginzberg. JTSA, NY. ISBN 965-456-021-6. [A collection of one hundred responsa by Louis Ginzberg z"l, noted scholar and longtime JTS professor of Talmud. This volume contains previously published responsa, as well as many more unknown and unpublished responsa, dealing with a wide array of topics including euthanasia, burial practices, artificial insemination, conversion, the mehitza and the use of grape juice during Prohibition. Also included are Professor Ginzberg's forceful responses to anti-Semites such as Pranaitis, the "expert" witness at the Beiliss trial in Kiev in 1913. The book serves as a unique window into the history and development of Conservative halakha, and into American Jewish history from 1913 to 1953.]

Golinkin, David (ed.) Responsa of the Va'ad Halakhah of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel. Available direct from the Masorti movement. Published by the Masorti Movement, Jerusalem, Israel. [A series of five paperback collections of official teshuvot from the law committee of the Masorti movement, which is authorized by the RA to have the same authoritiy as the CJLS. The full text of all responsa are presented in Hebrew, along with 2 to 4 page English summaries of each. (Volume 1 is in Hebrew only).]

Rabbincal Assembly. Proceedings Of The Committee On Jewish Law And Standards - Volume 1: 1980-1985. RA Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. ISBN 0-916219-07-0. [Presents responsa in sixteen areas of Jewish Law, including Abortion, Brit Milah, Conversion, Intermarriage, Passover, Shabbat, and the Status of Women. Its 300 pages contain more than forty responsa prepared for and adopted by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards.]

Proceedings Of The Committee On Jewish Law And Standards - 1927-1970. 3 volume set. Rabbinical Assembly and the Institute for Applied Halakha, Jerusalem, 1997. [This set contains many studies and responsa (teshuvot) from the Conservative movement from 1927 to 1970. Most of the responsa and articles in this set were previously published in either the annual "Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly", the journal "Conservative Judaism", and similar venues, all of which unfortunately had an extremely limited distribution, and have not been readily available. With this publication these responsa are now readily available to all.]

Other works to look at include Emet Ve-Emunah and books by Conservative authors such as Dorff, Gillman, Steinberg, and Wolpe, cited elsewhere in this list.

[Got Questions?]Our goal is to keep this list useful for its readers. To that end, suggestions of books to add to the list are always welcome. In your suggestion, please be as complete as possible; we need author, title, publisher, publishing date, and ISBN number. We also welcome a one paragraph short summary of why the book is of interest. Please send your suggestions to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2001 Daniel P. Faigin <>