Rabbi Damsky on conservative religion

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By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

Identity—biblical Hebrew informs modern Hebrew our students are studying Hebrew from the time they are in preschool what students do is they have a text which have Hebrew in one column and the English alongside in the other and a lot of commentary on the page to help unpack the text so they study in English but sometimes when their questions come up I'll go back to the Hebrew and I'll say ok I want you to look at this word we'll explore a word or we'll explore a concept one of the essential tenets of Judaism we use our traditional ancient texts as a way to understand our lives today and we're constantly looking at how relevant they are

We're the people of the book and in the conservative movement one of the monikers is "tradition and change" so we do evolve but we evolve by looking back we cannot cut off our roots it's like a tree you can pull the fruit from the tree you can cut the flowers from the tree but if you cut the trunk of the tree you will no longer get any fruit or flowers and you might actually kill the tree Judaism believes that there is so much richness 40 boxes of books and those books are places I go all the time we go back to learn something to bring it forward, we teach we're always evoking Maimonides Rashi Ramban we're also evoking current heschel we're looking to current teachings as well as ancient teachings they all inform our lives today whether it's a relationship I have with somebody because they are preparing for their bar or bat mitzvah or somebody approaching retirement or somebody who is dealing with illness or someone who is getting married we always go back to those texts and we continue to bring them forward but not without recognizing that sometimes those ancient texts need to be adjusted because of the changes you've suggested, so there's the tradition part and the change part we need to be aware and awake in today's world we need to evolve the tradition so that it's still relevant

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