Reform Judaism

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"But Because of Our Sins" in the Day of Atonement Additional Prayer. Left: the 1818 Hamburg Temple rite, first comprehensive Reform liturgy, stating "accept in mercy the uttering of our lips instead of our obligatory sacrifices and omitting "O gather our dispersions... Conduct us unto Zion." Right: traditional equivalent.

Reform Judaism (also known as Liberal Judaism and Progressive Judaism) is a phrase that refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.[1] In general, Reform Judaism maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and compatible with participation in the surrounding culture. This means many branches of Reform Judaism hold that Jewish law should undergo a process of critical evaluation and renewal. Traditional Jewish law is therefore often interpreted as a set of general guidelines rather than as a list of restrictions whose literal observance is required of all Jews.[2][3]

Reform Judaism in North America[edit]

Reform Judaism is the largest North American denomination of American Jews today.[4][5][6][7] With an estimated 670,000 members, it also accounts for the largest number of Jews affiliated with Progressive Judaism worldwide. It was founded by Rabbi Isaac M. Wise in Cincinnati, Ohio in the mid-1800s.

Official bodies of the Reform Movement in North America include the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Reform Judaism in the UK[edit]

UK Reform and Liberal Judaism are the two Progressive movements in the UK. For details on the relationship between the two progressive movements, see Progressive Judaism (United Kingdom).

Progressive Judaism in Israel[edit]

After a failed attempt in the 1930s to start an Israeli movement, the World Union for Progressive Judaism tried again in the 1970s and created the movement. While calling itself "Israeli Progressive Movement" at first to stress its independence from the American counterpart, it officially changed its name to "The Reform Movement - Progressive Judaism in Israel" in 2009.

Reform movement in Judaism[edit]

A Reform synagogue with mixed seating and equal participation of men and women.

Along with other forms of non-orthodox Judaism, the North American Reform, UK Reform, UK Liberal Judaism and Israeli Progressive Movement can all trace their intellectual roots to the Reform movement in Judaism which emerged in nineteenth-century Germany.[8][9][10] Elements of Orthodoxy developed their cohesive identity in reaction to the Reform movement in Judaism.[9]

Although North American Reform, UK Reform, UK Liberal Judaism and Israeli Progressive Judaism all share an intellectual heritage, they occupy different positions on the non-orthodox spectrum. The North American Reform movement and UK Liberal Judaism are situated at the more radical end. The North American Conservative movement and Masorti Judaism occupy the more conservative end of the non-orthodox Judaisms, and are not regarded as forms of Reform Judaism at all. The UK Reform[11][12][13] and Israeli Progressive movements[14] come somewhere in between.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Meyer, Michael. Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism (New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 1988), viii. "Reform Judaism" refers to a "particular position on the contemporary Jewish religious spectrum represented by a broad consensus of beliefs and practices and a set of integrated institutions. Note: in the remainder of his book Meyer is quite specific about where he uses the phrase "Reform Judaism"—it is used only in connection with the U.S. Reform (pp.227–334, 353–384) and UK Reform (p. 347) denominations.
  2. ^ ReligionFacts - Reform Judaism
  3. ^ What is Reform Judaism?
  4. ^ Bob Abernathy, Reform Judaism, Public Broadcasting Service, May 1999.
  5. ^ Matthew Wagner and Greer Fay-Cashman, Reform rabbis offended by Katsav, Jerusalem Post, June 2006.
  6. ^ Correspondent: Arthur Magida; Executive Editor and Host: Bob Abernathy. Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York. (May 21, 1999). "Reforming Reform". Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. Episode 238. PBS.;playeraddress=videoplayer.cgi;media=%2Fwnet%2Freligion%2Fweek238%2Fcover-lo.rm%2C%2Fwnet%2Freligion%2Fweek238%2Fcover-hi.rm%2C%2Fwnet%2Freligion%2Fweek238%2Fcover-lo.wmv%2C%2Fwnet%2Freligion%2Fweek238%2Fcover-hi.wmv;title=Reform%20Judaism;playertemplate=%2Fwnet%2Freligionandethics%2Fmedia_player%2Fvideo.html. "Reform Judaism, the largest liberal Jewish movement in the U.S.…"
  7. ^ Matthew Wagner; Greer Fay-Cashman (20 June 2006). "Reform rabbis offended by Katsav". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 10 April 2010. "The Union for Reform Judaism, a North American movement, represents the single largest stream of Judaism in North America, with about 1.5 million members." 
  8. ^ Louis Jacobs, The Emergence of Modern Denominationalism I: Modernization and its discontents: the Jewish Enlightenment and the emergence of the Reform movement from The Jewish Religion: A Companion, Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-19-826463-1
  9. ^ a b Louis Jacobs, The Emergence of Modern Denominationalism II: The development of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Judaism from The Jewish Religion: A Companion, Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-19-826463-1
  10. ^ Meyer, Response to Modernity, viii
  11. ^ URJ. "What is Progressive Judaism in Great Britain all about? What is it like to be Jewish in Great Britain? How is it different from being Jewish in North America? "
  12. ^ Usenet FAQ. "How is Reform Judaism structured in the rest of the world?"
  13. ^ Judaism 101:Movements of Judaism
  14. ^ IMPJ. "Progressive Judaism in Israel"

External links[edit]

Official sites[edit]

Other resources[edit]