Talk:Liberal Judaism

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Cut material[edit]

I've cut the following which originally made up the article (text originally from the soc.culture.jewish FAQ). West London Synagogue began in 1840 - perhaps this was the split the author was thinking of? But it has nothing to do with current Liberal Judaism in the UK, which traces itself back to 1902.

Liberal Judaism is a British term for what is otherwise known as Reform Judaism.
The confusion about the terms "Reform" or "Liberal" comes from a split in England's Reform movement. In 1842 the English Reform movement split into two factions, one of which was more traditional, while the other was more liberal. The more traditional Reform Judaism faction called themselves simply 'Reform'. Their prayer services are much more traditional than the faction that split off, and their laity is in general more observant than the other faction. Thus their prayer services are much like American Conservative shuls and English Masorti shuls, but they still are what in the U.S. is called Reform (i.e. Classical halakha is not considered binding by its rabbinate or laity). The more liberal Reform Judaism faction seceded, and renamed their movement as "Liberal Judaism". They are more in the mode of Classic German Reform. They generally have less Hebrew in their services. Liberal Judaism feels that a Jew should be able to choose which parts of the Jewish law works for them as an individual. They reject the idea that the Torah was given directly to Moses at Mount Sinai, rather that it was given over a period of time. They feel that the Torah is not a divine revelation, rather that it is divinely inspired.

Jheald 18:15, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Shouldn't that be qualified somewhat.. do liberal jews really believe that thou shalt not kill is a matter of choice? Zargulon 19:32, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

Dispute about terminology[edit]

Please see Talk:Reform Judaism for a discussion of the large problems with terminology, and how to classify our articles on Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism and Progressive Judaism. RK 17:21, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

In a previous edit to the talk page, subsequently reverted, you made the (fair) point that it was not clear enough which parts of the article were supposed to be about the term "Liberal Judaism" as used worldwide, and which were specific to "Liberal Judaism" in a UK context. I hope this is now clearer, so no grounds remain to tag the article "disputed factual accuracy".
On the question of whether there should be a "Liberal Judaism" aricle at all, separate from the article on "Reform Judaism", I would argue that there should. Liberal Judaism is a distinct and distinctive voice in the general religious dialogue of the UK, and I think that is more than reason enough for it to deserve an article. -- Jheald 02:49, 28 November 2005 (UTC).
Ok, I have thus removed the "disputed" tag. RK

The names of and within this movement[edit]

Are we sure about the name of the Liberal Movement? In the USA the Reform movement has a general name, "Reform Judaism". Yet there is a reform rabbinical body (the Central Conference of American Rabbis) and an association of Tenmples/Synagogues (Union for Reform Judaism, formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.) So what is the name of the body of Liberal rabbis in the UK, and name of the body of Liberal congregations? Or perhaps they have no such formal organizations? (That is possible, but it would be odd.) RK

As mentioned in the article under the sub-paragraph 'organisations' the main umbrella organisation for the Liberal movement in the UK has recently renamed itself "Liberal Judaism", having previously been called the ULPS. Within that organisation, as well as the Officers, the Executive, the Council, etc, there is also an autonomous "Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism", to which all Liberal rabbis are affiliated.
Individual schuls and rabbis pretty much have autonomy to do their own thing; the central organisation's role is to support schuls, not to dictate to them. But statements from the central bodies can often usefully underline very strong consensus agreement across the movement as to how things should be. -- Jheald 20:20, 28 November 2005 (UTC).
I don't think we need two articles on the same group. We have one article for the Union for Reform Judaism, even thought it used to be called the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. We also only have one article for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, even though it used to be called the United Synagogue of America. The name change doesn't mean that it is a different group. It makes more sense to redirect the ULPS article to here, and add that info to this page. RK
We should note in the article that there is a Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism. Also, is there a name for the group of Liberal shuls? RK 03:36, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
The group of Liberal schuls is what was ULPS and is now Liberal Judaism. The Rabbinic Conference is an autonomous constituent part of that same organisation. (Its office is in the same building). -- Jheald 09:26, 29 November 2005 (UTC).

I agree about ULPS redirect. Zargulon 08:12, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

Good. I hadn't wanted to delete what somebody else had created. -- Jheald 09:26, 29 November 2005 (UTC).


It doesn't make sense to have different articles about things that are the same, or have very slight similarities. The ideas that the sects share should be described in an umbrella, and the differences should be voiced. Very few people know the difference, and it should be discribed within an article shared between Progressive, Reform, Liberal, etc. The distinctions are not clear.--Cocopuffberman 23:29, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Your reversion and my re-instatement[edit]

I apologize for not having explained more clearly my edits to this article. Here is a more detailed explanation:

  • I converted the original lead to an italicized disambiguation statement because the article describes a particular movement/organization in the UK rather than all movements that call themselves liberal. It is important to remember that there are 42 countries with communities that are inheritors of C19 Reform Judaism and that a number of them use the term liberal to describe themselves. Since this article does not discuss other liberal movements in other countries it cannot (yet) lay claim to being an article about liberal Judaism in general and is still in need of some sort of disambiguation.
The text that was there already already performed that function well. 3-line dab paragraphs are totally against the spirit of WP:HAT. They're meant at most to be 1/2-line see alsos, not 3 line disclaimers.
So shorten it the dab if you can find a way to be more succinct. The fact remains that the term "liberal judaism" is not the exclusive property of the UK movement/organization. Also as a matter of good writing style, it is misleading to have a lead paragraph that is not developed in the article itself. As for WP:HAT, I refer you to the second paragraph
Note: The dispute regarding the proper usage of summaries and extended disambiguation notes is currently unresolved (see #Summarize or not? below). Most agree that they should be limited to the simplest possible form, preferably only linking to a standard Article (disambiguation) page, allowing slightly more extensive hatnotes when warranted in certain cases. Egfrank 08:22, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm open to discussion about whether the disambiguation statement should read "movement" vs. "organization". However, I need to point out that it was the content of the article itself that lead me to conclude that the essential focus of the article was an organization, and not a movement. The pre-edit article begins by noting that the presence of two organizations is a consequence of history and ends by saying that there is currently little difference between the two "movements" beyond organization. Also mentioned in the article is the fact that they jointly train rabbis and rabbis move between liberal and reform congregations. This would be unlikely if there were still deep points of contention between liberal and reform congregations. Though not mentioned in the article, I would also note that they are both currently members of the World Union for Progressive Judaism subscribing to the same mission statement. Certainly in the present, I don't believe the differences between them rise to the level of "movements". If you feel differently, I invite you to discuss, compare and contrast the history of thinkers associated with each "movement".
One could certainly do that, starting with Claude Montefiore, Lily Montagu and Israel Mattock, and going on to people of the calibre of John Rayner. But for the moment, note that both the UK Liberals and UK Reform self-describe themselves as movements - and in particular as different movements. There were moves to merge the two in the 1980s, but these were called off, because both sides decided there was value in remaining true to their different missions and different agendas.
No doubt - but these thinkers are discussed and respected by progressive/liberal/reform Jews around the world. They are not the exclusive property of the UK liberal movement/organization. And I do know there are strong feelings amongst UK Liberal Jews against certain UK reform practices (e.g. the continued non-egalitarian flavor of some communities). Yes, the UK reform movement feels the need to qualify every endorsement of pluralism and the role of conscience with the need to be aware of Jewish tradition. All the same, emphasizing their differences to the degree that you do obscures their rather significant commonalities. The very fact that merger was even considered belies your point. Egfrank 08:22, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
  • The remaining edits consist of grouping together material discussing the same topic. I identified two core topics: a historical discussion of the organization (which I placed under the title ==Origins== and a characterization of the current organization which I placed first.
    I believe the rearrangement was justified because the previous arrangement was confusing. In particular, it wasn't at all clear what was meant by the sentence "For historical reasons in the UK, 'Liberal Judaism' exists as a separate identity from the United Kingdom's Movement for Reform Judaism." Did it mean that merely that "there is a history that is on-going" or that the presence of two organizations is an artifact of a no-longer-relevant historical dispute?
If you were starting with a blank page now, you might not end up with two different movements. A substantial part is down to history. But there are also very real current differences of culture and self-image that remain, as well an identification with the history.
  • I agree that I changed the focus by placing the "now" part first, , but this was not its purpose. Since the current differences are largely organizational, this arrangement had the effect of emphasizing Liberal Judaism as an organization rather than a movement. Even though this changed the focus, I believe it is the right ordering. This is a live organization/movement, not a historical artifact like 19C German Reform, and so its current identity should be the focus. Again, if you feel differently, I would consider enhancing the description of Liberal Judaism now so that it appears more descriptive of a movement than an organization.
The current differences aren't largely organisational. And the reason you're (wrongly) emphasing LJ as an organisation rather than a movement is that you've buried the paragraph on what LJ stands for right down at the bottom of the article. It's what it stands for that makes LJ 'live', and that's what ought to be near the top of the article - as it previous was.
Then move that paragraph up to the discussion of the movement/organization now. You are right it doesn't belong in an origins section. Perhaps you might also want to add (cited) material about the proposed merger and why it didn't happen to the article. I think this would be very relevant and might help diffuse the current sense that Liberal Judaism is just an organization. Egfrank 08:22, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

I hope we can come to an agreeable consensus on this. Egfrank 21:12, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

The article as it was previously was balanced and nuanced and edited by people who actually knew what they were writing about at first hand. I'd ask you to put it back. Jheald 00:21, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

I caution you against ad-hominem attacks. You don't actually know whether or not I have first hand experience. In any case, it wouldn't be relevant since my experience is POV. If you feel strongly enough about this, I'm happy to request arbitration, but I will not put it back until the content issues I have raised have been addressed. I have provided several suggestions about how the article might be expanded to make your point. Wouldn't it be more worth our time to spend time expanding the article rather than trying to turn back the clock? Egfrank 08:22, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Is Liberal Judaism an organization or movement[edit]

I also think the Liberal Judaism article was better as it was, before the edit you're insisting on. Jheald 17:49, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Whatever its historic origins, the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) is now recognized as the international (42 countries) umbrella organization of those congregations that grew out of C19 German Reform. Those organizations have chosen to collectively call themselves "progressive". It is their choice and I think we should respect it.
As for the UK issue - the problem in the UK isn't a question of "who wants to be associated with whom" - liberal and reform congregations have been using the same rabbinical seminary for years. Rather "Liberal" and "Reform" in the UK now identify particular organizations. The potential for confusion would be more like confusing Nefesh B'Nefesh with the Israeli government's klitah program - both serve the same purpose (absortion) but have different organizational structures (amuta vs. government). Egfrank 19:38, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Not entirely true. There are distinct differences in outlook between the UK Liberal and UK Reform movements, and people do tend to strongly associate themselves with one rather than the other. UK Liberal is affirmatively progressive. UK Reform covers a broader range, including some schuls that are anything but progressive. It's appropriate for the two pages to explore the two different outlooks. The two movements are not identikit clones of each other, and it's not just simply a question of affiliative organisation. Reducing the pages to just being about the organisational structures is doing a disservice to Wikipedia. Jheald 20:26, 25 September 2007 (UTC) The above was taken from Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Judaism Egfrank

It was not at all my intent to "reduce pages to being about organizational structures" - I suggest though that we continue this discussion on the Liberal Judaism talk page. The issue of whether Liberal Judaism is a movement or organization is a good one. I agree that there are some strong feelings and that "Reform" in the UK is sometimes anything but, including some that are strongly anti-egalitarian. Interestingly, the two organizations also seem to differ in self perception - the Liberal Judaism website describes itself as a movement whereas the Movement for Reform Judaism ironically describes itself as an umbrella organization. Go figure...
However, I think the differences between the two UK movements, if you will, must be understood from the broader perspective of "pluralism". In the early days of the reform movement, disputes about praxis caused schisms and separate movements. In the progressive/reform/liberal congregations of today they are simply viewed as (sometimes angry) disagreements that we must learn to live with in the name of pluralism. Similarly differences in Hebrew levels and observance, and even differences in beliefs about the status of Jewish text are simply disagreements, not differentiators. The commonality among those calling themselves liberal/reform/progressive is a shared understanding of Jewish decision making, not a list of expectations about the specific content of those decisions. For example, the Israeli reform movement accepts neither homosexual marriage nor patrilineal descent. However, it has no problem seeing itself as part of the same movement as American Reform Jews who accept both. I believe the same ability to agree to disagree exists between the two movements in the UK. Egfrank 22:15, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
The two UK groups value their different histories and different identities. And I'm not sure they do agree about Jewish decision making - my understanding is that unlike the pluralism of the Liberals, Reform has a central Beit Din which has some real authority. I repeat: these are different strands, with a strong sense of identity and of distinctness from each other. They are best each considered on their own terms. Saying otherwise simply doesn't reflect the situation on the ground. Jheald 00:41, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
As a correction of fact, both pluralism and informed individual conscience are part of the UK Reform movement/organization's self-stated world view. From About Us, in their own words:
Internal Pluralism. Living Judaism understands that darcheha darchei noam, vechol netivoteha shalom, its [the Torah] ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace – ways and paths. For there is no one way within Judaism but many ways, many doors, many signposts to the Jewish journey through life.
Responsible Autonomy. Living Judaism recognises the existential truth that individuals are free to make their own choices. But authentic Jewish choice can only be exercised responsibly – in dialogue with the needs of our people, the teachings of our dynamic tradition and the promptings of God as we experience God in our individual and collective lives.
Of course the two organizations/movements value their history and differences. But they are also both committed to pluralism and belong to a common organization, the World Union for Progressive Judaism, train their rabbis in the same school, etc. You haven't addressed these points. If differences rose to the level of separate movements, why would the UK Reform send their rabbis to a rabbinical school founded by Liberal Judaism? I would rather think they would object strongly to the idea. Egfrank 07:44, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
FYI, Leo Baeck (actually originally founded by Reform) has trained the majority of UK Masorti rabbis too, and they really are a different movement. Jheald 08:17, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
Good point (and thank-you for the correction), but there you have it - "they really are a different movement. At least part of the reason we consider the UK Masorti a really separate movement is that even though it uses the same rabbinical schools, congregations affliated with the UK Masorti movement do not ally themselves organizationally with other progressive movement bodies. On the other hand both the UK Reform and Liberal congregations do. Egfrank 08:36, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

JHeald - you "won" hands down!:-) Rearranged back to make clear this is a movement and not just an organization. But it still needs a lot of work on both

  • the history (there's a lot more to tell than just Lily Montegu)
  • thought and belief. Thinkers like Rayner should be covered by Progessive Judaism#Beliefs and practices, but this article should probabably:
    • list the UK thinkers that have made major contributions to Progressive Jewish theology and halakhah
    • discuss the local impact of those thinkers (which may differ from the general movement impact)

Egfrank 06:08, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Serious discussions about using the names Reform vs. Progressive Judaism[edit]

Please see the present discussions at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Countering systemic bias/open tasks#WikiProject Judaism needs help - geographical bias concerns. Your input would be greatly appreciated. (They are the result of discussions that unfolded at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Judaism#Concern about duplicating Reform and Progressive labels.) Thank you, IZAK 09:21, 30 October 2007 (UTC)


The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: no consensus to move the page, per the discussion below; the evidence presented seems to have been insufficient to determine the validity of the proposal. Dekimasuよ! 22:22, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

Liberal JudaismLiberal Judaism (United Kingdom) – "Liberal Judaism" is also the oldest, and still oft used, umbrella term for Reform Judaism in Europe especially, and worldwide as well --Relisted. George Ho (talk) 22:46, 5 October 2014 (UTC) 08:44, 25 September 2014 (UTC) AddMore (talk) 08:44, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

AddMore, the parallel Polish article describes: "Liberal Judaism - a branch of Judaism that occurs almost exclusively in the United Kingdom ..." There also isn't another form of "Liberal Judaism". I had a bit of a snoop in Category:Religious denominations and only found one disambiguation by location (Progressive Judaism and Progressive Judaism (United Kingdom) but in this case both articles are in existence). Perhaps if people read of Liberal Judaism (United Kingdom) they will assume that there is also another form of Liberal Judaism and wonder why the redirect continually brings them back to the UK. Gregkaye 13:03, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
User:Gregkaye, thank you for your swift response. Since when are Wikipedia articles in any language a credible source? I presume they simply based theirs on wiki.en, like most wikipedians do. "Liberales Judentum" is also the official name of Reform Judaism in Germany, where I believe it has more followers than in England. That's the case in the Netheralnds and France, too. The term was used primarily in Germany between 1844-1939, and was the semi-official name of what this wikipedia erroneously called "German Reform movement (Judaism)". British Liberals do not "occur almost exclusively" in the UK, they are almost a replica of American Reform Judaism, share their belief in progressive revelation etc. That's why both and many others - who are variously called Liberal/Progressive/Reform - are members of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. There's a terrible mess in the matter here, and I know, and we should start fixing that.AddMore (talk) 13:46, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
Note I think the proposal would be most workable in a situation in which the Liberal Judaism name space is turned into a WP:CONCEPTDAB or regular disambiguation page. If the Liberal Judaism namespace just acts as a redirect then it will raise the problems mentioned above. Obviously this situation has a significant knock on effect on the movement entitled "Liberal Judaism" and the argument should now be to prove that this group is not WP:PRIMARY. If this is true and/or if people within Liberal Judaism would be happy then no objections.
I have edited the hat note at Liberal Judaism with the info just presented but this can easily be reverted.
I tend to refer to a variety of sources but looked but only looked the other Wikipedias this time as I hadn't thought through the disambiguation options. Gregkaye 14:36, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
How about Liberal Judaism (UK movement) or similar? If appropriate this is not as suggestive of being part of a larger whole. Gregkaye 14:41, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose, even without the development of a disambiguation page, a proposal has been entered to take the identity of one religious denomination and direct it to the identity of another religious denomination. Its nuts. Gregkaye 23:37, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.