Navigating Rough Waters: Alexander Kohut and the Hungarian Roots of Conservative Judaism
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With these words, Alexander Kohut engaged the radical Reform stance of Kaufman Kohler in the spring of 1885. The exchange with Kohler crystallized Kohut's raison d'être for Conservative Judaism: an authentic alternative to what he termed “stupid Orthodoxy and insane Reform.” Kohut articulated a fully developed version of this view in Ethics of the Fathers, a compilation of his polemics against Kohler that he published a few months later. This earned Kohut a place among the Conservative movement's pantheon of nineteenth-century founders, along with Sabato Morais, Benjamin Szold, and Marcus Jastrow.