Talk:Reform Judaism

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Clear up terminology[edit]

This article seems to be stuck about half-way between doing disambiguation and explaining the history of the reform movement and its terminology. This isn't helpful. The problem seems to be that there are at least three different meanings of the term "Reform Judaism", all of them closely related

  1. generic "reformed Judaism", i.e. anything to do with the Jewish reform movement
  2. "Reform Judaism" (North America)
  3. "Reform Judaism" (UK)

now, strictly based on the content of the various linked articles, "Reform Judaism" (UK) corresponds to "Conservative Judaism" (US), and "Reform Judaism" (US) corresponds to "Liberal Judaism" (UK). This split in terminology developed in the early 20th century. In the 1920s, the problem was addressed by introducing the new term "Progressive Judaism" meant to include all of "Reform" (both meanings), "Liberal", "Conservative" and "Reconstructionist" branches, i.e. anything connected to the "reform movement" as opposed to Orthodox Judaism.

Keeping his story scattered over half a dozen pages isn't helpful to the uninitiated reader. I see two possibilities, either merge this entire page into Progressive Judaism and compile a section dedicated to coherently explaining terminology there, or else reduce this page to a simple disambiguation page, as follows, "Reform Judaism" may refer to:

See also

--dab (𒁳) 11:13, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

dab, your use of the term "terminological nightmare" is absolutely correct. What happened here is that someone attempted to "clear" the matter, turning this page into a virtual disambig. while moving much data to Jewish beliefs and practices in the reform movement, an article which is in shambles. In addition, there are also Progressive Judaism and Reform movement in Judaism. Everything is a total mess, the citations are very poor. I'll attempt to answer:
  1. UK Reform Judaism is NOT Conservative at all. It adheres to the basic principles of its American counterpart, though it's less radical. British Liberals are indeed tending toward the American model.
  2. A a bit of history: the basics of Reform - these include progressive revelation, universalized Messianism and so on, too complex to explain right now - were laid in 1830-1840s Germany by Abraham Geiger and his supporters, like Samuel Holdheim. Jewish communities in Germany remained unified by law (one city, one congregation) until 1876, and the Reformers - known there as "Liberals", though this title was quite ambiguous - had to accommodate conservative ,with a small c', elements. Some of Geiger's disciples, David Einhorn (rabbi) etc., moved to the US, where religious freedom was mandated by law and anyone could set up congregations. American Reform was free to be as radical as it wished, and turned into a huge success.
  3. Englishman Claude Montefiore, strongly influenced by Geiger, was the founder of British Liberal Judaism. German refugees fleeing Hitler viewed it as too radical and set up British Reform Judaism, which reminds the compromising attitude of German communities, in the 1930s - though the first synagogue calling itself "Reform" in the UK was established in 1840 (a long story involving neo-Karaites but having no relation with German Reform Judaism and its American derivative). Ahh, in 1926 people from around the world who basically shared the original convictions of German Reformers - progressive revelation and so forth - met in Berlin and founded the World Union for Progressive Judaism; they chose "Progressive" while Americans were "Reform" and Europeans mostly "Liberal". Both UK Reform - whose rabbis, like Jonathan Romain, affirm the tenets of "Geigerian" thought - and Liberal joined in.
  4. The WUPJ remained a Reform-only club until 1990, when Reconstructionist Judaism (something utterly different; among others, instead of a progressive revelation, Reco.'s believe there was NO revelation. They're an offshoot of Conservative Judaism) entered. Today, The American Union for Reform Judaism is by far the largest member of the WUPJ, with 1.5 Million congregants out of 1.8M worldwide (including 100,000 Reco.'s). Sorry for making this looong comment, but I hope it clarifies the relations between the terms "Progressive", "Liberal" and "Reform". There is one "Geigerian" world branch (which underwent much development, but just as Karl Barth is still a Calvinist, so is Eugene Borowitz still within Reform) and there is Recon'. Both may use the title "Progressive" today.
  5. After dealing with US and UK Reform Judaism and "Progressive Judaism", let's move to the Reform Movement in Judaism. As mentioned in the title of that article, it was coined by D. Phillipson and used again by Michael Meyer in their histories. As Meyer, the most important historian of Reform Judaism, writes in his Preface:Considerations of Historiography (in the book Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism), both wrote about Reform Judaism, but you can't write about it without alluding to the all-engulfing changes sweeping Jews in late 18th Century Europe. Therefore, he used the terminology of "Reform movement" from which "Reform Judaism" developed; he bequeaths the title "founder of RJ" upon Geiger. The book also alludes to two other movements who confronted the new realities and made SOME changes: Zecharias Frankel's Positive-Historical School (=antecedent of Conservative Judaism) and Samson Raphael Hirsch's Neo-Orthodoxy (more or less today's Modern Orthodox Judaism). However, as he stressed there on page ix, they're there mainly to provide contrast. If I had my way, Reform Movement in Judaism would have been renamed to something like "History of Judaism in the 19th century" to avoid confusion, but whatever.
  6. And to the conclusion: Reform Judaism has over 13,000 views a month, as compared to some 1,700 by either Liberal Judaism and Progressive Judaism, each. "Progressive" could have the ideal name for the mother-article until the Reconstructionists joined the WUPJ. "Liberal", while here it refers to the British variant only, means also the historical Liberal Judaism in 19th Century Germany and other groups thus named in modern-day Germany, France, Netherlands etc. Reform Judaism (North America) alludes much to its German antecedent (which Meyer calls "Reform", and refers - as wikipedia does - to Geiger as founder of Reform).
  7. I therefore suggest that:
  • If you or anyone reached until here and didn't dose off, I congratulate you. Sorry for making it long, but couldn't help. AddMore (talk) 14:36, 7 December 2014 (UTC)
Sounds like a plausible plan, though I haven't thought about the basic details. Several years back, there was a push toward using the term Progressive, based more IMO on the intellectual or ideological views of editors rather than the WP policies, e.g. use of more prevalent or common name. It also may have shaped the scope of what reliable sources would ordinarily consider unified, e.g., is the Conservative movement best situated as a subtopic of Progressive etc. B'hatzlakhah, Probably the first step is to do a formal proposed move or merger of the articles involved, as I think you've indicated above, and then gradually edit them within an improved encyclopedic structure. HG | Talk 16:51, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
These proposals actually make some sense. The recent redirects don't, though!
  1. I agree that Reform Judaism should be the central article.
  2. I agree that Progressive Judaism should be merged into World Union for Progressive Judaism and then redirected there.
  3. I agree that Liberal Judaism should be a redirect to Reform Judaism, while the present article should be renamed Liberal Judaism (UK) (analogous to Liberal Judaism (Netherlands)).
  4. Reform Movement in Judaism was redirected to Reform Judaism, which makes much sense.
  5. I agree that Jewish beliefs and practices in the reform movement is a rather worthless article, and should be merged mainly into Reform Judaism and deleted, but since people dislike to delete it could be redirected to Reform Judaism as well.

Since the previous was unsigned, I'm not entirely sure whom I am responding to here.

All of this is a tempest in a teapot, if you ask me (which you haven't).
For the most part, I think that AddMore der Zweite has been handling this situation fairly responsibly, and I can certainly assume good faith on that user's part. I can appreciate @Debresser's concerns, though. All of this is happening about ten months after AddMore posted a query at WT:JUDAISM, so it's not so fresh in people's minds. And one certainly must err on the side of (editorial) conservatism in vastly overhauling an article as long and as longstanding as this one.
AddMore, I think you should probably post one more time at WT:JUDAISM. While it's fine for most of the description to remain here at Talk:Reform Judaism, you ought to provide a little bit more detail at WT:JUDAISM so people know what the question is. (That didn't really happen the last time you posted there.) After that, I think I'll be ok with your approach to untangling the terminology issues, provided that the following subjects don't get lost in the sauce:

  1. Somewhere there is still a description of what the term Progressive Judaism does—and doesn't—mean, and accordingly how far the grouping per se does—and doesn't—go.
  2. Where two separate Geigerian (let's call them) movements developed in parallel (such as UK Liberal and UK Reform), make sure we don't lose the fundamental differences between them.
    Do please make sure that your descriptions of the distinctions are well-sourced. I noticed a comment somewhere that suggested that UK Reform was more like US Conservative, and you disagreed. I don't really know the answer, but just make sure that distinctions are well-sourced and not based only on your opinion. (Also, if a comparison will be made with US Conservative, remember that there are some pretty substantial differences, too, within that movement, and between the US and ex-US branches of that movement.)
  3. Finally, somewhere in the tangle of these explanations, at least one comment (not yours, I don't think) suggested that Conservative Judaism was part of the Progressive Judaism tangle. De facto, parts of that movement are not very far away. But the reality is that Conservatism has formally and theologically been quite separate from Reform for over 100 years, so my judgment is that it should not be included. StevenJ81 (talk) 18:37, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
User:Debresser, I don't think any more comments are coming. What now? AddMore der Zweite (talk) 19:36, 22 December 2015 (UTC)
Personally, I think you should do what you proposed. Be WP:BOLD, especially since you have no objections. The only thing you have is a couple of mild constraints, per my comments, and I feel confident you will live within those constraints.
Do you mind editing out the word "confessional" in the lede, though? That's such a Christian term in this setting, and though at a certain level it is appropriately descriptive in English, it just doesn't feel right here. StevenJ81 (talk) 20:19, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Steven that you should start doing this. But take it easy, one step at a time. If it will take a week, a month, that is fine. If there are any troubles, refer to this discussion. Debresser (talk) 20:39, 23 December 2015 (UTC)


User:Dave314159, excuse for bothering you. That tone template, is the style overly flamboyant, or non-factual? I'll correct it at once.AddMore der Zweite (talk) 16:06, 30 December 2015 (UTC)

I was noticing sentences like: "Quite haphazardly, he instituted a major innovation when introducing family pews in 1851, after his Albany congregation purchased a local church building and retained sitting arrangements, a feature unknown in synagogue design until then." and "The Eastern Europeans came from backward regions, and had a pronounced ethnic tinge and a self-consciousness of a national minority, while the natives were assimilated and long accustomed to civil equality."
So, both florid and not completely NPOV.
It sounds as if it were lifted from something written in the early-to-mid twentieth century, though a quick Google search didn't turn up anything.
--Dave314159 (talk) 19:48, 30 December 2015 (UTC)
Dave314159, the abyss which gaped between the Eastern immigrants and the natives, of all shades, is a well-known detail of history. Not just in the US, but in Europe as well (cf. Michael Meyer, Response to Modernity, pp. 290-295). For an online source, check this, p. 6 (second paragraph). I did dry up the style, though.AddMore der Zweite (talk) 06:36, 31 December 2015 (UTC)

History - Beginnings Section[edit]

I have noticed that in the History section and subsection Beginnings that there seems to be some editorializing and polarizing language. I propose changing language that presents bias, as has been proposed by previous editors for different sections of the article, and refocus the rambling tendency of this subsection. I will also provide more citations throughout the section to back up what the article is saying. I'd also like to alert other editors that there are some terms and names that are undefined and make comprehension of the article more difficult. If someone opposes to the proposed changes, please comment here or on my talk page. Rebekah3152 (talk) 17:50, 1 May 2016 (UTC)

Rebekah3152, I wrote everything here. Could you be more specific? AddMore-III (talk) 19:31, 1 May 2016 (UTC):
AddMore-III, I noticed that after I had made a few edits that you deleted the edits I had made. I hope to understand why you decided to remove my edits. I am a college student who decided to improve this article for a class assignment, but the source I used was a reliable one, not a "general introduction". Dan Cohn-Sherbok is a Rabbi of Reform Judaism and has written several books about Jewish life. The information I drew from came from Chapter 44 - The Origins of Reform of his 2003 book Judaism: History, Beliefs, and Practice. You indicated having issue with the edit that Jews were "no longer separated from the mainstream life of non-Jews", but directly from Cohn-Sherbok's source it said "No longer were Jews insulated from from non-Jewish currents of culture and thought". As for the "Orthodox Jews who believed" section, Cohn-Sherbok states that "a number of Orthodox Jews asserted that any alteration to the tradition was a violation of Jewish heritage". I understand that some of the Hamburg information would be better served elsewhere in the section. I understand you have invested time into this article and the Wikipedia community thanks you, but I am hoping to contribute positively to the Reform Judaism article and I feel I had done that with my edits. I assure you that the source I used is far from a general introduction and that the information I added would be of value to the article as a whole. Rebekah3152 (talk) 03:21, 14 May 2016 (UTC)

- I would like to add on to what Rebekah3152 has said. The article is a little bit vague on the original intent of Reform Judaism in the late 18th and early to mid 19th century in western Europe: ignoring the omission of Haskalah, there is no mention of the basic core of either modernizing the Jewish religion within the scope of European rationalism, i.e. as the editors of 'Modern Judaism' have noted (Nicholas de Lange & Miri Freud-Kandel) "This movement [Reform Judaism] decried the insularity, Talmudic focus, and kabbalistic orientation of early modern Ashkenazic Judaism, and it urged a twofold reform: (1) broadening and reorienting the curriculum for purposes of internal Jewish cultural renewal; and (2) training Jews with new skills for purposes of reapprorchment and participation in the Gentile world.Modern Judaism: an Oxford Guide; from pg. 33 This seems like a reasonable adjustment in clarity in the article, unless anyone objects to this change (AddMore-III included)?KyleCee17 (talk) 04:23, 4 May 2016 (UTC)

KyleCee17, as mentioned in your source, that sentence concerns the Haskalah. This article is about Reform Judaism. By the time Reform (and again, not reform in the generic sense, but a specific denomination) consolidated in the 1840's, even the Orthodox in Germany moved waaay beyond the maskilic program, communicating almost exclusively in German etc. I bulked this article with some irrelevant info just so people could differentiate between - as Michael A. Meyer wrote - "reformers (in the generic sense)... a broad stream that embraced all opponents of the premodern status quo" to the "more clearly marked current which rejected not only the religious mentality of the ghetto, but also the modernist Orthodoxy which altered form but not substance." I've seen several Wikipedia users making that mistake. One must mention the former, and I've done so quite thoroughly, but they're totally different concepts. If you really want to understand the historical background, read Meyer's Response to Modernity. AddMore-III (talk) 05:13, 4 May 2016 (UTC)
I get that you two are some sort of college freshmen who draw your info from general introductions. I use specified sources, check the bibliography of this article. "Breakdown of traditional patterns" is far more accurate than "no longer separated from the mainstream life of Non-Jews" (what does that even mean? And they were still separated to a great degree). The process here is little related to France, mainly in Germany. You also put the Hamburg Temple right in the beginning, though it's mentioned below. There is nothing non-traditional about vernacular in prayer and the Orthodox turned this issue into a red line only after Hamburg. So is the organ. The "Orthodox Jews who believed..." section is faulty at best. The Orthodox wanted civil rights as much as the proto-Reformers, Reform rabbis appeared only decades later, and it's not "believed deviation from tradition was a violation of Jewish heritage", but something like "omission of prayer for restoration of the sacrificial cult in Jerusalem by the Messiah was contrary to Jewish dogma, and severe heresy." AddMore-III (talk) 05:30, 9 May 2016 (UTC)
Rebekah3152, I'm less than thrilled by your and your fellow classmates' edits. As I've already wrote, ideally you should have relied on specialist literature. However, as I'm both loathe to argue and aware you need those grades, I will not interfere here until you've passed your course. AddMore-III (talk) 06:23, 14 May 2016 (UTC)

New Changes![edit]

Hi! I am a college student and am assigned this article in my writing and composition class. I am working on expanding and adding some sections on the article on Reform Judaism. So far, I have added a subsection on Reform Judaism post World War II and how the war has affected Reform Judaism. I also added a subsection on feminism, and talk about how Reform Judaism and feminism go hand in hand. I also added a subsection on "Tikkun Olam", or social justice, because it is important in Judaism, but especially in Reform Judaism. Lastly, I added a section on Reform Judaism in Israel, and how it has both started and evolved there. There is nothing that I would delete. However, I would place the "History" section in the beginning of the article rather than the end. I believe the structure would be more comprehensive that way. Please let me know if you have any questions or advice! Thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aasherian (talkcontribs) 22:34, 16 November 2016 (UTC)