Help! Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform? (Reconstructionist)

Dear friends,

Thank you for reading!

This is an open letter to ask for some feedback.

Its been almost two years since my journey into Judaism.  I have experienced almost all the major movements in Judaism. Modern Orthodox at Ohel Leah Hong Kong, Reform/Progressive at United Congregation of Hong Kong, and Chabad at Shanghai.  Have not experienced the Conservative sect but heard it is somewhere in between Orthodox and Reform. If anyone knows of a Conservative Temple in Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York City, and/or Dallas – do pass the word.

Am asking because am at a point of deciding which one works for me and sticking to it for the long-term. At this point in time, I feel that Modern Orthodox is the best fit for me, I feel more connected to Ohel Leah in Hong Kong.

Would like to get some feedback on which sect your are with, why you choose it, and any suggestions. I’ll write more about how I feel about each and make a final decision by mid-summer.

I’m open to all types so don’t feel shy if you are not Modern Orthodox. Any feedback is welcomed.

Talk soon!



  1. I consider myself an educated and somewhat observant Reform Jew, having learned Hebrew as a child (and still studying) and somewhat keep (in my home) some regular (no pork) and Passover dietary laws, welcome the Sabbath Friday evenings, etc. Reform’s focus on tikkun olam (repairing the world/social justice) as a model of Jewish life is a major appeal, as well as its egalitarian stances. Most people i know who are Modern Orthodox are highly observant of dietary and Shabbat Shomer (keeping the Sabbath) laws including no riding, no use of electronics, no cooking on the actual Shabbat and major holiday periods. Most Modern Orthodox synagogues also separate men and women in worship, and women are not found as rabbis or even reading the Torah. Conservative is a blend. In San Francisco Congregation Beth Sholom is a Conservative synagogue. The Conservative service is closer to Orthodox than Reform, though that’s changing as more and more Hebrew is in the newer Reform prayerbooks. As you’ve no doubt experienced, Reform/Progressive uses less Hebrew and is more organized, orderly and directed in its services.

    Choosing among the various denominations of Judaism implies more than just deciding where to worship. Of course, there are Jews who practice few observances but worship at even Hassidic services (e.g., non-observant followers/supporters of Chabad). How one personally practices Judaism and lives Jewishly–whether through dietary laws and Shabbat observance or, more important, doing mitzvoth (commandments/good deeds), giving tzedekah (justice/charity)–is ultimately more important than where one worships.

    Good luck!

  2. agree with all of the above… and that the “feel” of each congregation is different; even within the same “denomination” e.g. conservative or reform etc..Congregations each have their own traditions and customs (minhags) around things like how long is the service, who usually participates, what do the kids do, what role do women have, etc, etc.. going to visit and “try out” a congregation is the best way to see if the people/traditions are a good fit for you. Good luck!.

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