The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards sets halakhic policy for Rabbinical Assembly rabbis and for the Conservative movement as a whole. Its membership consists of twenty-five rabbis who are voting-members, as well as five non-voting lay representatives of the United Synagogue and one non-voting cantor representing the Cantors' Assembly. The Committee discusses all questions of Jewish law that are posed by members of the Rabbinical Assembly or arms of the Conservative movement. When a question is placed on the agenda, individual members of the Committee will write teshuvot (responsa) which are discussed by the relevant subcommittees, and are then heard by the Committee, usually at two separate meetings. Papers are approved when a vote is taken with six or more members voting in favor of the paper. Approved teshuvot represent official halakhic positions of the Conservative movement. Rabbis have the authority, though, as marei d'atra, to consider the Committee's positions but make their own decisions as conditions warrant. Members of the Committee can also submit concurring or dissenting opinions that are attached to a decision, but do not carry official status.
When reviewing teshuvot, it is important to remember that each of these papers was written in response to a specific question posed by a Conservative rabbi. Questions about religious practice should be brought to your local Conservative rabbi. Each rabbi is the mara d'atra, or local religious decisor, of a particular community. While the teshuvot on this website provide an invaluable source of learning, they are not meant to, nor can they, substitute for the opinions of a local rabbi.
The CJLS teshuvot are sorted into the following categories:
אורח חיים- Orah Hayyim - prayer, synagogue, Shabbat, holidays
יורה דעה- Yoreh Deah - kashrut, conversion, mourning and family purity
אבן העזר- Even HaEzer - marriage, divorce and interpersonal relationships
חושן משפט- Hoshen Mishpat - financial responsibility, business, and public responsibility.
If you're not sure where to look, you can also search the site using the search box.
The CJLS has launched an exciting program, the International Seminar for Halakhic Study, a movement-wide day on which Conservative/Masorti congregations, communities, and schools will come together to study a specific teshuvah of the CJLS.
View the materials from previous seminars here:
- International Seminar for Halakhic Study, Spring 2020
- International Seminar for Halakhic Study, Fall 2019
- International Seminar for Halakhic Study, Spring 2019
- International Day of Halakhic Study 2018