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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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Solomon Schechter and the Charismatic Bond

Solomon Schechter and the Charismatic Bond

(p.15) 1 Solomon Schechter and the Charismatic Bond
The Birth of Conservative Judaism

Michael R. Cohen

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on events following Solomon Schechter's arrival in America in 1902. Schechter was recruited to transform the struggling Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) into a world-renowned center for scholarship. He shaped the new Seminary into an institution that came to be known simply as Schechter's Seminary. He also envisioned a unified American Judaism that would be both committed to tradition and would appeal to the children of immigrants. To implement his vision, he trained a diverse cadre of disciples, serving as not only a teacher and mentor to them but also as a father figure and friend. These personal relationships created a charismatic bond between master and disciple, overcoming the diversity within the group and ensuring that the disciples would endure great personal sacrifice to see Schechter's vision become reality. Their shared mission would be the first seed of a vague group consciousness, which was strengthened by the personal friendships and shared experiences amongst the disciples themselves. This vague group consciousness would later be institutionalized as the foundation of the Conservative movement.

Keywords:   Solomon Schechter, American Jews, disciples, Conservative Judaism, Schechter's Seminary, Jewish Theological Seminary of America

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