The Conservative Jewish movement walks the line between traditional religious observance and modern liberal thinking. Judaism has traditionally focused more on what its practitioners do than on what they believe, and the Conservative movement epitomizes this -- adherents are expected to follow Jewish law, but without the fundamentalist beliefs of more traditional movements, such as the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox.
Conservative Jews believe in a single, present God who maintains a relationship with the Jews, both individually and communally. Like more traditional branches of Judaism, the Conservative movement believes that God has a covenant with the people of Israel, which obligates Jews to follow Jewish law and use it to improve or heal the world. Conservative Jews retain their closeness with God by observing the commandments, participating in traditional prayer services and studying the Old Testament, particularly the Five Books of Moses, called the Torah in Hebrew.
While Reform Jews, who are less traditional than Conservative Jews, may believe that the Torah was written by humans, Conservative Jews believe it was given to Moses by divine revelation. However, they also believe that Judaism is a living tradition with space for growth and change. Thus, the Torah is an essential and holy part of a Conservative Jew's relationship with and understanding of God, but it isn't binding to the letter. The movement believes that modern Jews should study the Torah through the lens of modern life, rather than self-segregating as a community and studying Torah from as traditional a perspective as possible.
Support of the State of Israel and connection to it are among the principle tenets of Conservative Jewish belief. The movement views Israel as the Jewish homeland, a belief based in the traditional view of the Jews as a nation as well as a religion. Along the same lines, Conservative Jews value the Hebrew language and believe that learning it is key to understanding the Torah, supporting Israel and uniting the entire Jewish people worldwide. Because of these values, Conservative Jews are likely to make an effort to visit Israel at least once and to meet other Jews from around the world.
One of the defining characteristics of the Conservative movement is its willingness to adjust Jewish practices to suit the modern era and contemporary beliefs. While Orthodox Jews separate men and women for services, Conservative Jews do not; however, Conservative Jews still pray in Hebrew and in most traditional ways. While Orthodox Jews are forbidden to use electrical appliances or cars on the Sabbath, Conservative Jews are not -- as long as they are using these items in the spirit of the Sabbath. For example, a Conservative Jew may drive to synagogue on the Sabbath but not to other places.
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