Progressive Judaism (Israel)

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Progressive Judaism is the Israeli equivalent of Reform Judaism.


Some of the earliest Reform rabbis to settle in what would become Israel included Rabbi Judah Leon Magnes, who was the first Chancellor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in 1938, became its President. Rabbi Meir Elk, who graduated from the liberal Breslau Rabbinical Seminary in Germany (now, Wrocław, Poland), founded the Leo Baeck School in Haifa, which today is one of the most renowned educational establishments in the country. The first Reform synagogue in Israel is "Kehilat Har-El" (Mount of God Community) in Jerusalem, which was founded in 1958.

Despite a great investment of resources the Reform movement remains tiny in Israel. It has failed to attract many Israelis and its prime constituency is English speaking immigrants.

The headquarters of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (Reform Judaism is generally referred to as Progressive Judaism in Israel) were moved to Jerusalem in 1973, establishing Progressive Judaism’s international presence in Zion and reflecting its intention to form a strong indigenous movement.

The first Reform kibbutz, Yahel, was founded in 1976 in Arava and Lotan was founded in 1983. Har Halutz was established in Galilee in 1985.

With the mass-immigration of Jews from the CIS to Israel, the Reform movement in Israel grew yet was still limited. According to some, this is due to political pressure from Haredi and other religious parties.[citation needed]

The organizational bodies for Israeli Progressive Judaism are:


  • Ephraim Tabory (1988) Reform Judaism in Israel : progress and prospects New York, N.Y.; Ramat-Gan, Israel: Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations of the American Jewish Committee; Argov Center of Bar-Ilan University, 1998.

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