conservative Conservative Judaism, also known as Masorti Judaism, is a branch of the Jewish faith that emerged around 1900. Whilst it is called Conservative, it is not conservative in a political sense. Instead it seeks to preserve the traditions of the Jewish faith: Masorti is Hebrew for ‘traditional’. They represent a median point between orthodox Jews and reform/progressive Jews, being that they seek to conserve the traditions of the Jewish faith, but retain the awareness that Judaism must necessarily change within context in order to remain relevant.

Conservative Judaism emerged from the Positive-Historical Judaism movement, which was founded in the 1840s and 50s. This movement developed in reaction to the more liberal Jewish Reform movement, which had recently dropped the requirement for Jewish prayer to be conducted in the Hebrew language, in order to protect the Jewish traditions. It also split itself from the orthodox movement when Rabbi Louis Jacobs, founder of the Masorti movement in the UK, declared “The Torah did not drop down as a package from heaven, but is an ongoing relationship with the people of Israel. It is a product of many generations of reflection on what is meant by God's word”. To the Orthodox Jews, this constituted a denial of the divine origin of the Torah.

The movement is committed to adhering to traditional Jewish law and customs, but they do so in a consciously non-fundamentalist fashion. Their attitude towards modern culture is a positive one – seeking to involve and integrate themselves and Jewish tradition into the present, rather than preserve it through anachronism and isolation. They have a tradition of a broad and involved academic critique of their own faith and holy scripture, and actively encourage higher critical readings of the Torah.

In Britain today, the Masorti movement has six congregations. The first and largest congregation, the New London Synagogue was established on 29 August 1964.
The British Masorti movement does not allow women rabbis, and in some synagogues women are not allowed to read from the Torah.


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