I know that must surprise many of my readers as well. Rabbis at one point in history actually decided to change and adapt. For thousands of years Judaism revolved around the Temple in Jerusalem. When the Temple was destroyed, the Rabbis once again adapted and changed the religion to survive. All this happened before the idea of "conservatism" was invented (I am referring to the general social/political idea and attitude. Not to be confused with the Conservative religious sect of modern Judaism).
Today conservatives around the world, Jewish and not Jewish believe that change must be fought. They believe they have certain practices, certain ideas or "values" and any discussion that things might have changed over the last tens, hundreds or thousands of years is simply wrong. But if people had always thought this way, their religions that they love so much would have died out hundreds or thousands of years ago. The world is always changing and smart people know how to learn and adapt where as conservatism insists on staying the same and refusing to adapt as if their attitude will stop time from passing.
Today religious Jews are absolutely panicked about intermarriage and "assimilation". If a Jewish man marries a non Jewish woman, his bloodline and his lineage are lost to the Jewish people and any children he fathers with his non Jewish wife will not be Jewish. They believe that if this growing trend continues, Judaism as they know it and accept it will disappear. However, since history shows that the Rabbis can and have switched the determining parent between the man and the woman in the past, wouldn't it make sense for Rabbis to say it is enough that one parent be Jewish? Than there would be no danger of their religion vanishing. But their conservative mind set tells them that they cannot bend. The world must not change and their religion must not change.
A few days ago, 40,000 ultra-orthodox Jewish men went to a rally at Citi-Field in New York to listen to Rabbis warn them about the dangers of the internet. These Rabbis commanded their followers to avoid the internet and warned them that it is evil. (Obviously new technologies and unrestricted access to knowledge is very dangerous to ultra-Orthodox Judaism). One Rabbi, Rabbi Wachsman told the crowd that whoever did not follow these new edicts and bands on the internet would not be able to get into heaven.
Obviously, I really don't care if people believe Facebook and Gmail will stop them from getting into fantasy "wonderland". But I must ask again, why be so conservative? Why would the ultra-Orthodox not use the internet to communicate between communities around the globe and share ideas on their religion? There is no value to this kind of conservatism.
The same conservative attitude is causing all the grief in America over gay marriage. The conservative says that "marriage has always been between one man and one woman and therefore cannot change". Ignoring the fact that that statement is in no way whatsoever even slighly historically accurate, why can't marriage change? Through most of history, marriage was all about producing children. Today marriage is about love. So why can't the "institution" adapt and include the love of two men or two women? If you don't agree with gay marriage, than don't have one. But how does it affect you if someone else does? What do conservatives gain by telling people no?