Podcast: David Wolpe on How Reform and Conservative Judaism Will Weather the Coronavirus

The leading Conservative rabbi joins us to a look at the task facing America’s liberal denominations.

Temple B’nei Abraham in Decatur, Illinois. Jon Kraft/Shutterstock.

Temple B’nei Abraham in Decatur, Illinois. Jon Kraft/Shutterstock.

May 28 2020
About the authors

A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.

David Wolpe is rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and the author of, among other books, Why Be Jewish? and Why Faith Matters. He can be found on Twitter @RabbiWolpe.

This Week’s Guest: David Wolpe


Much of the Jewish institutional world was not exactly healthy before the coronavirus crisis—and where we will all be when it’s over is hard to say. 

That’s true everywhere, but it’s especially acute in some of the largest and most ubiquitous Jewish institutions in the United States, like the Union for Reform Judaism, which just laid off 20% of its employees.

Some have suggested, as a strategy to keep alive these movements—and the synagogues, seminaries, and schools they support—that the non-Orthodox denominations in America merge together, or at least share resources and facilities.

And that possibility invites a serious question: if the denominations could even conceivably educate their religious leaders together, and bring their congregants into shared space in order to worship together, then are they really that distinct?

To examine that question, and others like it, Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver is joined by David Wolpe, a Mosaic contributor and one of the leading Conservative rabbis in the country.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as “Ulterior” by Swan Production.



For more on the Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic, which appears roughly every Thursday, check out its inaugural post here.

If you have thoughts about the podcast that you’d like to share, ideas for future guests and topics, or any other form of feedback, just send an email to [email protected].

More about: Conservative Judaism, David Wolpe, Reform Judaism, Religion & Holidays