Jewish beliefs and practices in the reform movement

Jewish beliefs and practices in the reform movement

Jewish beliefs and practices have undergone dynamic changes and innovations in the reform movement of Judaism, known also as Progressive, Reform or Liberal Judaism. Due to its origins in Enlightenment-era Germany, the reform movement has eyed traditional Jewish beliefs through the lens of liberal thought, such as autonomy, modernity, universalism, and the historical-philosophical critique of religion.

Because the progressive movement believes in the continuous integration of Jewish tradition and non-Jewish insights, the specific beliefs and practices of Progressive Judaism have changed over time. [cite book|last=Meyer|first=Michael|title=Response to Modernity|publisher=Oxford University Press|location=New York|year=1988|pages=p. ix|quote=It is not possible to isolate a doctrinal essence of the Reform movement. While certain teachings, such as the historical nature of Judaism, progressive revelation, and universalized messianism, take firm hold once they appear, only the last is present from the start. Some tenets prominent at an early stage lose their significance or are even rejected in the course of time.] The commitment to personal and congregational autonomy also means that standards of belief and practice can vary widely from region to region, from congregation to congregation, and even from individual to individual.Fact|date=October 2007 Given this diversity, historian Michael Meyers prefers to characterize reform Judaism by certain dynamic tensions. They include, but are not limited to: continuity versus reform, authority versus autonomy and universalism versus particularism. [Meyer, Response to Modernity, ix-x]

This article describes Jewish beliefs and practices from the essentialist, dynamic, and historical approaches to the reform movement.

Response to tradition

The 19th Century German reform movement posed an intellectual challenge to many traditionalist Jewish doctrines, such as the divine authorship of the Torah, instead stating that it was the inspired writings of man. They questioned laws of the Hebrew Bible that offended Enlightenment sensibilities, such as the execution of heretics (for instance, due to violation of Shabbat) or the revenge genocide of Amalek. They also rejected ritual and ceremonial Jewish laws, such as kashrut, which reformers questioned as unnecessary or outdated for a religion based on reason.

The Enlightenment beliefs of the early reformers carried implications for subsequent reform practices. For instance, reform-oriented Jews made controversial efforts to reject circumcision and alter prayer services. Rabbis wore vestments modeled after contemporary clergy and reform worship introduced the pipe organ for instrumental accompaniment (scores arranged by the composers such as Louis Lewandowski). The traditional Hebrew prayer book (the Siddur) was replaced with a vernacular (German) text.

Describing beliefs: Essence, tensions, and process

Attempts have been made to describe non-orthodox Judaism in terms of its essence, its inner tensions, and its process for determining truth and action.

Describing the essence

In historiography of the reform movement, scholars have been tempted to describe the movement's principles as a set of enduring values. Prominent leaders, like Leo Baeck, would write about the "Essence of Judaism" from a reform standpoint. [Baeck apparently wrote in response to Adolf von Harnack and his "The essence of Christianity". See also, e.g., Kohler.]

For example, Eugene Borowitz's "Liberal Judaism" (1984) defines the essentials as (1) changing with the times and (2) democracy. However, in "Renewing the Covenant" (1991), he reconsiders that definition and proposes a third alternative between the Judaism he defined in "Liberal Judaism" and Orthodoxy. He calls this alternative "Postmodern Judaism". Here he defines the essentials as (1) a belief that human dignity comes from outside the human system, i.e. from God (2) a relational covenant between God and the Jewish people that invests dignity into human beings by turning them into partners with God and is "structured by Torah as record and mandate" (3) the individual's commitment to "God-oriented, community-guided personal choice".

Borowitz, a leading theologian in U.S. Reform movement, articulates a view attuned to the American situation. Another perspective is gleaned from position statements by other denominations affiliated with the Progressive movement, each of which in its own way expresses a belief that Jewish tradition and modernity can be blended together:

*WUPJ speaking of the "liberal streams of Judaism": "Their core values of pluralism, modernity, equality and social justice appeal to many who seek to incorporate precious Jewish tradition with contemporary lifestyles." []
*South Africa Union for Progressive Judaism: "Progressive Jews believe that the Torah comes to us from God, but it is our task to apply its teachings to our times. Halachah (Jewish law), is not a static set of decisions made by past rabbis, but a vital process requiring continuing engagement with our core beliefs in the context of our current world. Individuals are responsible for developing a personal understanding of what God wants of them. This means Progressive Judaism emphasises education, requiring each person to engage with Jewish texts and traditions. In line with contemporary understanding, men and women are equal partners. There is no division of seating in our synagogues and women participate equally in services, including serving as rabbis." []
* Liberal Judaism, UK: "To be a Jew is to be the inheritor of a religious and cultural tradition. To be a practising Jew is to accept with love and pride the duty to maintain and transmit that tradition. To be a practising Liberal Jew in the twenty-first century is to believe that tradition should be transmitted within the framework of modern thinking and morality; it is to live according to the prophetic ideal of doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God." []
* Reform Judaism, UK:"Reform Judaism is living Judaism. It is a religious philosophy rooted in nearly four millennia of Jewish tradition, whilst actively engaged with modern life and thought. This means both an uncompromising assertion of eternal truths and values and an open, positive attitude to new insights and changing circumstances. It is a living, evolving faith that Jews of today and tomorrow can live by."
* Reform Judaism, USA:"Throughout our history, we Jews have remained firmly rooted in Jewish tradition, even as we have learned much from our encounters with other cultures. The great contribution of Reform Judaism is that it has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt, and to bring faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship." []

Describing inner tensions

However, an essentializing approach to religion has been deprecated in contemporary scholarship. Regarding the reform movement, Michael Meyer has argued:

It is not possible to isolate a doctrinal essence of the Reform movement. While certain teachings, such as the historical nature of Judaism, progressive revelation, and universalized messianism, take firm hold once they appear, only the last is present from the start. Some tenets prominent at an early stage lose their significance or are even rejected in the course of time. The negative attitude toward the national component of Jewish identity is the best example.

As an alternative, Meyer considers a more "dynamic" reading of the movement's orientation:

... it is perhaps more helpful to understand the movement in terms of dynamic tensions created by specific sets of polarities. Any list of such polarities is necessarily arbitrary and incomplete. ... Is the movement wholly continuous with Jewish tradition, a mere variant of earlier forms, or does it constitute a sharp break with the past, a radically new configuration? ... A second set of polarities counterpoises authority... with freedom of individual conscience. ... There have also been tensions between universalism and particularism. ... It is characteristic of the Reform movement that it has shifted its ground repeatedly and dialectically along the axes represented by these and other polarities, seldom settling for long into any fixed position.

Meyer concludes that Reform Jews have "a shared feeling of tension that cannot be fully resolved, even as the contradictory forces and divisive issues which produce it themselves remain beyond final resolution." He states that the movement's "persistent application" of affirmations, which themselves "remain ever in flux," reflects "a situation common to all religious liberalisms." [Meyer p.286] Not surprisingly, in Meyer's well-regarded depiction of reform Judaism, he describes the continuities and fluctuations in the movement through a diachronic account, focusing especially on the history of its communities, beliefs and practices.

Continuity and reform

* theologies of change - change viewed as:
** faith in humankind
** partnership between humankind and God / covenant
** keeping Judaism meaningful and spiritually enriching
** process theology: (maybe here: emphasis on education/Wissenschaft as vehicle for both continuity and reform)

Universalism and Particularism

* role of Kantian philosophy, Haskhalah and assimilation pressure
* Solomon Formstecher
* Hermann Cohen (neo-Kantian)
* David Einhorn, Kohler, Kaplan
* Borowitz: postmodern return to particularity

Authority and autonomy

* relative role of individual, community, rabbinate
* freedom-not-to-do vs. freedom-to-do
* autonomy in relation of human to God and divine command
* Cohen and other reform reactions to Kant's heteronomy critique
* autonomy of the individual vs the state; Enlightenment secularism as influence

Process and values

Others have attempted to define non-orthodox Judaism in terms of its process and values. Here is one exampleFact|date=November 2007:

*Applicability of textual analysis (including higher criticism), as well as traditional rabbinic modes of study, to the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic literature,
*Learning Jewish principles of faith through non-religious methods, as well as religious ones,
*Embracing modern culture in customs, dress, and common practices, and
*Complete gender equality in religious study, ritual, and observance.
*Emphasis on "tikkun olam" ("repairing the world") as the dominant means of service to God.

Some thinkers, like Martin Buber have argued for the complete of the individual in interpreting the Torah and Oral Law, as well as in deciding which observances one is thereby prescribed to follow. Others, like Mordecai Kaplan have argued for the moral authority of the community.

Jewish beliefs and thought

As might be expected from a community of intellectuals and religious entrepreneurs, the reform movement has had neither a stable nor a uniform religious doctrine. Nonetheless, reform beliefs tend to coalesce in several central theological categories, while a few longstanding aspects of Jewish thought have been neglected or downplayed. For example, contemporary progressive Judaism articulates beliefs in God, Torah and the people of Israel, while de-emphasizing or rejecting eschatology, Sinaitic revelation, and chosenness.

God in Jewish reform theology

Though central to its theology, the reform (progressive) Jewish movement has expressed a wide spectrum of views of God. One finds within the movement both an agnostic humanism and a traditional devotion to God.

For example, the landmark Pittsburgh Platform declared: "We recognize in every religion an attempt to grasp the Infinite, and in every mode, source, or book of revelation held sacred in any religious system the consciousness of the indwelling of God in man. We hold that Judaism presents the highest conception of the God-idea... as the central religious truth of the human race."

In "Judaism as Civilization", Mordecai Kaplan states: "In utilizing the psychological data to re-define our conception of God, we admittedly go as much beyond the province of psychology as do those who infer that the God-idea is illusion. Why then should be we prefer the inference which validates the God-idea rather than the one which negates it? Because the one indisputable fact which the psychology of religion reveals is that the God-idea is an expression of man's will-to-live. ... "God may not in any way resemble or correspond to the idea we form of him, but he is present in the very will-to-live, the reality of which we experience in every fiber of our being." [Italics original, 309f. Kaplans' view may be compared to Feuerbach, to Nietzsche on will. Kaplan himself refers to Freud in his discussion of psychology. See also Kaplan's "The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Religion."]

In "Jewish Theology: Systematically and Historically Considered", Kohler states that God is unique in self-consciousness and a link to human ethics. Judaism "teaches us to recognize God, above all, as revealing Himself in self-conscious activity, as determining all that happens by His absolutely free will, and thus as showing man how to walk as a free moral agent." For Kohler, God is "both immanent and transcendent." [Kohler cited in Noveck, ed.]

URJ quote: "A God-centered Judaism that combines respect for Jewish law and Jewish tradition with a progressive religious outlook"

WUPJ quote: "Progressive Judaism is rooted in the Bible, especially the teachings of the Hebrew Prophets. It is founded on authentic manifestations of Jewish creativity, ancient and modern, particularly those that stress inwardness and desire to learn what God expects from us: justice and equality, democracy and peace, personal fulfillment and collective obligations."

In general, the Reform movement de-emphasizes eschatological approaches to God.

Ethics and law

In its first century, the reform movement called for a universalistic Jewish ethic, consistent with a religious approach to reason. In this manner, the movement differentiated itself from Orthodox Judaism partly through its turn from traditionalist Jewish law and partly in its turn toward ethics. Thinkers like Moritz Lazarus sought to divest rabbinic Judaism of certain ceremonial or ritualistic aspects and reframed Judaism as an ethical monotheism.

In some cases, the universalism of early reform crowded out the particularistic character of Jewish law, if not religion in general. As Walter Jacob states: "Reform Judaism represented the universal side within the Jewish religious world. The liberal representatives, who dominated the Jewish segment of the World Congress of Religion held at the Chicago World Fair in 1898, could describe Judaism entirely in universalistic terms. They firmly believed that a universal religion, deeply influenced by Liberal Judaism, would soon supplant the other world religions. The specifics of the halakhah had become superfluous for them." [Jacob, Walter. “The Law of the Lord Is Perfect” Halakhah and Antinomism in Reform Judaism in CCAR Journal Summer 2004, p.75]

With universalistic ethics on one end of the scale, key reform thinkers rejected the halakhah with a radical antinomism. Jacobs traces such radicalism to Samuel Holdheim, even more than Geiger, and then to the U.S.: "The more radical ideas flourished in North America, to which many of the radicals had emigrated. As religion and the State were and remain completely separated in the United States, the battle of ideas was precisely that, without the admixture of politics. ...Under the leadership of David Einhorn (1809–1879), Isaac Mayer Wise (1819–1900), Kaufmann Kohler (1843–1926), and a host of others, this form of Reform became dominant. How did these rabbis defend their non-halakhic Judaism or, at least, a Judaism in which halakhah was not to be dominant? Emancipation meant that the free Jew now asked questions previously considered heretical." [Jacob, Walter. “The Law of the Lord Is Perfect” Halakhah and Antinomism in Reform Judaism in CCAR Journal Summer 2004, p.74f.]

In universalizing Jewish ethics, reformers were able to build a bridge to Christian colleagues. As Kohler wrote:

It is the Jewish genius working in an Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, and again in a Hillel and Philo, Jesus and Paul, that gave to ethics its vital essence, its compelling force, by revealing the God within.... Neither Moses and Isaiah nor Jesus, to mention only these three, have a word for either virtue or duty, and yet they and their compeers in the realm of prophetic vision have laid bare the very core of all ethics in showing us that the glory of the Divinity is mirrored in the virtues of justice, mercy, purity and holiness, which man is to strive for. In other words, Ethical Theism, or the insistence on the purely ethical qualities of God as the Ruler or life, gave humanity its vigorous idealism. [Kohler, Kaufman. "The Reform Advocate" May 6, 1911, cited in "Contemporary Jewish Thought: A Reader" ed. Simon Noveck. 1963]

In the mid-20th century, the progressive movement saw efforts to leverage halakhah for greater guidance, albeit non-binding, for moral dilemmas. In the U.S., for instance, the CCAR analyzed such matters as euthanasia through a halakhic screen. [Bettan report, circa 1950, CCAR] Numerous reform responsa were prepared from traditional rabbinic sources by the prolific, tradition-oriented Solomon B. Freehof. Following in his footsteps, other halakhists in the progressive stream included Walter Jacob in the U.S., John D. Rayner in theLiberal Judaism of the UK , and Moshe Zemer in Israel. In book after book of reform responsa, these authors tackled such topics in applied ethics as abortion, Jewish medical ethics, smoking, marriage and gender, environmental hazards.

Nevertheless, much liberal, progressive and reform Jewish ethics is not centered on traditional interpretation of the halakhah. Espousing a covenantal ethics, American Rabbi Eugene Borowitz became a prominent movement thinker in the post-War period. Working from a less religious, more philosophical methodology, German emigre and Heidegger student Hans Jonas also contributed to the mix of reform Jewish ethics.

Reform ethics also has been touched by the feminist movement. For example, Rachel Adler paved new ground for the progressive movement with her "Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics". Not surprising, the Reform movement in Judaism and affiliates of Progressive Judaism spearhead much of the scholarship on Judaism and gender ethics.

Torah and the interpretation of rabbinic literature

Working through the Wissenschaft des Judentums, German reformers were deeply engaged in the historical-critical study of the Bible and rabbinic literature. They argued that the Mishna and Talmud often contradicts the literal meaning of the Torah, and that these Rabbinic texts also contained outdated ritual practices and values that were contrary to Enlightenment ideals of reason. Based on these and other arguments, early Reformers felt that Halakhah (traditional Jewish law), which they regarded as merely exegetical interpretation of the Torah by the Pharisaic rabbis of the Mishna and the later Talmudic Rabbis, as well as the aforementioned parts of the Torah, were never normative and should not be taken as such.

* influence of historical-critical school
* understandings of revelation
* bible vs. talmud
* revival of interest in rabbinic literature
* concern for women's viewpoint, e.g. [ Torah:A Woman's commentary]
* torah and text study programs

Scriptural teachings

In progressive Judaism, Jewish theology valorizes the Torah, with an emphasis on prophetic and ethical teachings.

Relying upon modern critical scholarship, the early reform movement questioned both the literal revelation and authorship of the Torah and the authority of its exegesis through the oral law ("Torah shebe'al peh"). However, the Reformers did not believe that God literally wrote the Bible. After the Emancipation, Jews who came into contact with modern methods of studying history and historical books found that they could not accept the idea that the Bible transmits God's own words. The Reformers looked for a modern explanation to show why the Bible was still holy and came to the conclusion that its writers were inspired individuals. The Reform movement thus places a human factor upon sacred writings.

This philosophy was inspired by the investigations into the historical development of Judaism. The idea of progress, historical growth, at the time that the young science of Judaism established the relative as distinguished from the absolute character of Talmudism and tradition, was central in German philosophy, more clearly in the system of Hegel. History was proclaimed as the self-unfolding, self-revelation of God. Revelation was a continuous process; and the history of Judaism displayed God in the continuous act of self-revelation through inspired individuals. The laws and customs of the Talmudic era were interpreted as appropriate for the Talmudic period alone; however Reform scholars held that these laws are not an inherent or necessary part of Judaism in modern times.

Israel and Zionism

Reform, Liberal and Progressive Judaism hold strong beliefs in Israel and much of its Zionist ideology. As a result of these beliefs, the movement has developed a range of practices that reflect both religious and political interest in Israel.

Historically, however, the reform movement did not support Zionism, a nationalist movement which emerged around the same time that German reform and liberal Judaism grew institutionally. In the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, Reform Judaism rejected the idea that Jews would re-create a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland. They rejected the idea that there would ever be a personal messiah, and that the Temple in Jerusalem would ever be rebuilt, or that one day animal sacrifices would be re-established in a rebuilt Temple, in accord with a traditional, literal interpretation of the Hebrew Bible.

Reform Judaism rejected the classical rabbinic teaching that the Jews were in exile ("galut"). For reformers, dispersion of Jews among the nations was a necessary experience in the realization and execution of its Messianic duty. Instead, the people Israel was viewed as the Messianic people, appointed to spread by its fortitude and loyalty the monotheistic truth and morality over all the earth, to be an example of rectitude to all others. For Reform Jews, all forms of Jewish law and custom were seen as bound up with the national political conception of Israel's destiny, and thus they were dispensable.

Reform Jews ceased to declare Jews to be in exile; for the modern Jews in America or Europe had no cause to feel that the country in which they lived was a strange land. Many Reform Jews went so far as to agree that prayers for the resumption of a Jewish homeland were incompatible with desiring to be a citizen of a nation. Thus, the Reformers implied that for a German, Frenchman, or American Jew to pray from the original siddur was tantamount to dual loyalty, if not outright treason. In the U.S., Reform intellectuals argued that their commitment to the principles of equal rights and the separation of religion and state precluded them from supporting the nineteenth century Zionism movement.

Since the Holocaust and the establishment of the modern State of Israel, in 1948, Reform Judaism has largely repudiated Anti-Zionism, and the official platform of Reform Judaism is Zionist. There are now many Reform Jews who have chosen to make "aliyah" (move to Israel), and there are several kibbutzim affiliated with the Israeli Reform movement. The Reform movement also sends hundreds of its youth and college-age students to Israel every year on summer and year-long programs.

Reform Judaism & Zionism: A Centenary Platform: "The Miami Platform" - 1997 [] Excerpt: "Medinat Yisrael exists not only for the benefit of its citizens but also to defend the physical security and spiritual integrity of the Jewish people. Realizing that Am Yisrael consists of a coalition of different, sometimes conflicting, religious interpretations, the Jewish people will be best served when Medinat Yisrael is constituted as a pluralistic, democratic society. Therefore we seek a Jewish state in which no religious interpretation of Judaism takes legal precedence over another."

View of Jewish Nationhood

The early Reformers, believing that assimilation of Jews into European culture was not a negative phenomenon, held that Judaism was not a people but was a religion. This was because holding Judaism as a culture and people prevented Reform Jews from being modern citizens in their home nation. Focusing on Judaism as a religion allowed them to fully participate in the culture around them without the trappings of isolation familiar to the ghetto mentality. Zionism was denounced to quash accusations of dual loyalty against Reform Jews and was considered an unnecessary movement. This is no longer part of Reform Judaism, and today, Jewish culture and Zionism is a primary component of Reform Judaism.

Regional differences

While progressive Jews share many beliefs in common, they often differ in their practices. Significant disagreements exist on the issues of patrilineal descent, homosexuality, intermarriage, and the role of rabbinical associations in setting congregational policy.

Patrilineal descent. Patrilineal descent is accepted by North American Reform JewsFact|date=November 2007, UK Liberal JewsFact|date=November 2007 and Progressive Jews in Australia and New Zealand. Some other regional movements may disagree.Fact|date=November 2007

Homosexuality. Opinions are also divided on homosexuality. North American Reform JewsFact|date=November 2007 and UK Liberal JewsFact|date=November 2007 accept gay marriages and commitment ceremonies. In other regions the issue is very controversial and rabbis can lose their jobs for performing homosexual unions.

Intermarriage. In UK Liberal Judaism, as of 2004, "many communities were happy to carry out a mixed-faith blessing... Rabbi Goldstein emphasised that the principle was to make people feel accepted." [ [ Notes on LJ visit ] ] . In the USA, North American Reform Jews the congregational association (URJ) approved intermarriage and the Reform rabbinical assembly, the CCAR, officially opposes intermarriageFact|date=November 2007. UK Reform's Assembly of Rabbi's say their rabbis cannot officiate in any way at a mixed faith marriage, neither in the shul nor not in the shul. [] -Scroll down to mixed faith marriages.] In isolated cases a rabbi will perform a blessing so long as the couple does not expect the rabbi to mention God. [ [ Kvetch: Intermarriage => Looking for Jewish/non-Jewish blessing ceremony inspiration ] ] .

Rabbinical authority. In the USA the congregation has the final word and can override decisions of the CCAR - the US Reform Rabbinical body - by refusing to hire rabbis who disagree with the congregation's viewpoint. In other regions, such as Israel, the rabbinical body sets policy and rabbis can lose their jobs for not following the policy.

Practices and places

As a matter of religious practice, progressive Judaism center its activities around either the home or the synagogue. While reform places of worship are both diverse and evolving, home practices are less bound by a centralized authority or the standards of Jewish law.

Places of worship

Reform Synagogues began to be called Temples, a term reserved in more traditional Judaism for the Temple in Jerusalem.

Prayer and liturgy

* motivations for prayer book reform
* influence of historical-critical school - Ismar Elbogen, Abraham Zevi Idelsohn
* impact of particularism/universalism debate
* lay participation in communal services
* impact of existentialism
* attitudes towards personal prayer
* creative ritualsThe Reform movement in its earlier stages involved sweeping changes in public worship, in the direction of the vernacular, as it was believed to provide more meaning and substance to modern Jews. With this in mind, the length of the services was reduced by omitting certain parts of the prayer book. In addition, the piyyutim (poetical compositions written by medieval poets or prose-writers) were curtailed.

The Reform movement gradually removed a portion of traditional prayers from the Jewish prayer book. In their place Reform liturgists created new liturgies that had only a few paragraphs in Hebrew, surrounded by German chorals, and occasional sermons in the vernacular. The rite of confirmation for teenagers also was introduced, first in the duchy of Brunswick, at the Jacobson Institute. These measures were aimed at the aesthetic regeneration of the liturgy rather than at the traditional interpretation of Jewish faith or modification of Jewish law.

The Reform movement later took on an altogether different aspect in consequence, on the one hand, of the rise of "Wissenschaft des Judentums", or "Science of Judaism," the first-fruits of which were the investigations of Leopold Zunz, and the advent of young rabbis who, in addition to a thorough training in Talmudic and rabbinical literature, had received an academic education, coming thereby under the umbrella of German philosophic thought.

On the other hand the struggle for the political emancipation of the Jews (Gabriel Riesser) suggested a revision of the doctrinal enunciations concerning the Messianic nationalism of Judaism. Toward the end of the fourth and at the beginning of the fifth decade of the nineteenth century the yearnings, which up to that time had been rather undefined, for a readjustment of the teachings and practices of Judaism to the new mental and material conditions took on definiteness in the establishment of congregations and societies such as the Temple congregation at Hamburg and the Reform Union in Frankfurt (Main), and in the convening of the rabbinical conferences at Brunswick (1844), Frankfurt (1845), and Breslau (1846).

These in turn led to controversies, while the "Jüdische Reform-Genossenschaft" in Berlin in its program easily outran the more conservative majority of the rabbinical conferences. The movement may be said to have come to a standstill in Germany with the Breslau conference (1846). The Breslau Seminary under Zecharias Frankel (1854) was instrumental in turning the tide into conservative or, as the party shibboleth phrased it, into "positive historical" channels, while the governments did their utmost to hinder a liberalization of Judaism, to a great degree at the urging of the established Orthodoxy.

Ritual traditions

Given the view of Judaism as ethical monotheism, early reformers called for revolutionary changes in ritual and ceremonial traditions.

The practice of Kashrut (keeping kosher) was abandoned as ritualistic and archaic. Reformers such as Kaufmann Kohler considered many aspects of halakhic Judaism to be dangerous and harmful, reflecting outdated and irrational values, and made a point of actively discouraging such practices. Many of the more radical departures from traditional Jewish practices were later modified by adherents of progressive Judaism, while many principles continue to define the modern movement.

ee also

To learn more about regional variations in the current beliefs and practices of progressive Jews, it may be helpful to examine and compare some of the regional statements of belief. A number of these are listed in the footnotes below (see 2-7). Overviews of each regions distinctive beliefs and practices can also be found in the following articles:

* Reform Judaism (North America)
* Reform Judaism (United Kingdom)
* Liberal Judaism (United Kingdom)
* Progressive Judaism (Germany)
* Liberal Judaism (Netherlands)



Ethics and halakhah

* Tony Bayfield. Sinai, law and responsible autonomy : Reform Judaism and the Halakhic Tradition. London: Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, 1993. ISBN 0947884092.
* Eugene B. Borowitz. Reform Jewish ethics and the halakhah : an experiment in decision making. W. Orange, NJ: Behrman House, 1994. ISBN 0874415721.
* Exploring Jewish Ethics: Papers on Covenant Responsibility. Wayne State University Press, 1990
* Responsa writings of Solomon Freehof
* Jacob, Walter; Freehof, Solomon B. Liberal Judaism and Halakhah 1988, Rodef Shalom Press, Pittsburgh, Pa.
* Jonas, Hans. "The Concept of God after Auschwitz: A Jewish Voice." The Journal of Religion 67, no.1 (January 1987): 1-13.
* Lubarsky, Sandra B. "Judaism and Process Thought: Between Naturalism and Supernaturalism" in "Jewish Theology and Process Thought", eds. Sandra B. Lubarsky and David R. Griffin (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), 47-58.
* Moritz Lazarus. "The Ethics of Judaism." Translated by Henrietta Szold Jewish Publication Society of America, 1901
* David Novak. "Universal Moral Law in the Theology of Hermann Cohen" in "Modern Judaism", Vol. 1, No. 1. (May, 1981), pp. 101-117. [ JSTOR version]
* Moshe Ish-Horowicz. Halakhah--Orthodoxy and Reform. London: Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, 1992.
* Walter Jacob and Moshe Zemer. The environment in Jewish law: essays and responsa. Studies in progressive halakhah. New York: Berghahn Books, 2003. ISBN 1571814310.
* Re-examining progressive Halakhah. Studies in progressive halakhah. New York: Berghahn Books, 2002. ISBN 1571814043.
* Rabbinic-lay relations in Jewish law. Studies in progressive halakhah. 2, Tel Aviv; Pittsburgh: Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah; Rodef Shalom Press, 1993. ISBN 0929699041.
* Progressive halakhah: essence and application. Studies in progressive halakhah. 1, Tel Aviv; Pittsburgh: Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah; Rodef Shalom Press, 1991. ISBN 0929699033.
* Walter Jacob and Solomon B. Freehof. Liberal Judaism and Halakhah. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Rodef Shalom Press, 1988. ISBN 0929699009.
* John D. Rayner. Jewish religious law: a progressive perspective. Progressive Judaism today. 3, New York: Berghahn Books, 1998. ISBN 1571819754; ISBN 1571819762.
* Elliot Stevens. Rabbinic authority: papers presented before the Ninety-first Annual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Yearbook. 90, pt. 2, New York: The Conference, 1982. ISBN 0916694887.
* Moshe Zemer. Evolving halakhah: a progressive approach to traditional Jewish law. Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights Pub., 1999. ISBN 1580230024.
* Jüdisches Religionsgesetz heute: progressive Halacha. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1999. ISBN 3788717378.
* Moshe Zemer and Haim Hermann Cohn. "Halakhah shefuyah". Tel-Aviv: Devir, 1993.


* Morrison David Bial. Liberal Judaism at home; the practices of modern reform Judaism. New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1971.
* Barnett A. Elzas. The organ in the synagogue. An interesting chapter in the history of reform Judaism in America. Charleston: 1903.
* Dana Evan Kaplan. Platforms and prayer books : theological and liturgical perspectives on Reform Judaism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002. ISBN 0742515478; ISBN 0742515486.
* Theodore I. Lenn and Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbi and synagogue in Reform Judaism. New York: 1972.
* Jakob Josef Petuchowski and World Union for Progressive Judaism. Prayerbook reform in Europe; the liturgy of European liberal and reform Judaism. New York: World Union for Progressive Judaism, 1968.
* Union for Reform Judaism. The life-cycle of synagogue membership : a guide to recruiting the unaffiliated and integrating and retaining our diverse Jewish community. New York: URJ Press, 2005. ISBN 0807409693.
* Mark Washofsky. Jewish living : a guide to contemporary reform practice. New York: UAHC Press, 2000. ISBN 080740702X.
* Women of Reform Judaism. Covenant of the soul : new prayers, poems and meditations from the Women of Reform Judaism. New York, NY: Women of Reform Judaism, 2000.

History and beliefs

* Leo Baeck, "Essence of Judaism"
* Joseph L. Blau and Central Conference of American Rabbis. Reform Judaism: a historical perspective; essays from the Yearbook of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. New York: Ktav Pub. House, 1973. ISBN 0870681915.
* Eugene B. Borowitz and Naomi Patz. Explaining Reform Judaism. New York: Behrman House, 1985. ISBN 087441394X.
* Eugene B. Borowitz. Reform Judaism today. New York: Behrman House, 1977. ISBN 0874412714.
* Elaine De Lange. Women in Reform Judaism. Judaism in our time. London: Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, 1975.
* Abraham Jehiel Feldman. Reform Judaism; a guide for Reform Jews. New York: Behrman House, 1956.
* Reform Judaism; a guide for Reform Jews. Hartford: Temple Beth Israel, 1953.
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