We are aware of a New York Times column by Sam Freedman regarding the Conservative Movement's Joint Placement commission comprising the Rabbinical Assembly, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, The Jewish Theological Seminary and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. As you well know, for decades, the goal of the Joint Placement Commission, which works by consensus of congregations, rabbis and seminaries, has been to promote our vision of Conservative Judaism by partnering closely with congregations in the difficult process of selecting a religious leader. Professor Richman incorrectly attempts to apply antitrust concepts intended for the business marketplace to a religious movement. This crucial distinction was best characterized by Senator John Sherman the sponsor and namesake of the Sherman Antitrust Act, who stated that churches are not covered under this nation's antitrust laws: "I do not see any reason for putting in temperance societies any more than churches or school-houses or any other kind of moral or educational associations that may be organized. Such an association is not in any sense a combination or arrangement made to interfere with interstate commerce" (21 Cong.Rec. 2658-59 (1890).).
Our congregations, seminaries and the Rabbinical Assembly jointly agree that the rabbis who lead our congregations require the necessary training, background and experience to promote a dedicated, open minded Judaism in a diverse society. Our system, almost identical to that of the Reform and Reconstructionist Movements, and similar to several Protestant denominations that also balance their traditions with changing times, allows a worldwide community of Conservative Jews to grow together while leaving the vast majority of decision making to the congregation itself.