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The Birth of Conservative JudaismSolomon Schechter's Disciples and the Creation of an American Religious Movement$
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Michael Cohen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156356

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156356.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Birth of Conservative Judaism

Michael R. Cohen

Columbia University Press

This introductory chapter first sets out the book's purpose, namely to explain the emergence of Conservative Judaism as the third movement in American Jewish life, after Orthodox and Reform, in the first half of the twentieth century. By focusing a historical lens on the role of rabbis trained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, it demonstrates that members of a previously neglected group—Solomon Schechter's disciples—were in fact the ones who created Conservative Judaism over the first half of the twentieth century. The chapter discusses how integrating the study of Conservative Judaism into the growing field of new religious movements explains its emergence in a way that previous approaches cannot. It also clarifies how Schechter can be viewed as a charismatic religious leader.

Keywords:   Jewish movements, Conservative Judaism, rabbis, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Solomon Schechter, religious leaders, religious movements

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