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September 27, 2012

Conservative Judaism

Official statements on animals, along with historical and contemporary references

  • A black bear cub climbs a tree. The HSUS

Conservative Judaism (known as Masorti Judaism outside of the United States and Canada) was founded as “a reaction against Reform [Judaism] on the one hand and orthodoxy on the other,” according to the Emet Ve’Emunah (Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism).

Based on the principles of Rabbi Zechariah Frankel (1801-1873), Conservative Judaism, says the Emet Ve’Emunah, strives to preserve “intact the structure and content of traditional Jewish observance” while remaining open to “the new conditions and insights of the modern age.”

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) “issues rulings shaping the practice of the Conservative community.” According to the CJLS, compassion toward animals is important not only because of “the prohibition of inflicting suffering on animals,” but also because it promotes the “character trait of piety” and prevents “human beings from behaving cruelly” toward each other. “Since God is concerned with the well-being of all God’s creatures, we too should be,” says the CJLS and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ).

Many biblical texts portray God’s concern for the welfare of animals and repeat God’s command “that human beings treat animals with compassion.” “God is portrayed in biblical texts as being concerned for the welfare of animals. God creates vegetation as food for both human beings and animals (Gen 1:29-30). In the account of the Deluge, God commands Noah to expend a significant amount of effort to preserve every species of animal" (Gen 6:19-21; 7:2-3). —from The Rabbinical Assembly, Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, Veal Calves, 3-4.

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