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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Who We Are (2/12)
Section - Question 2.5: What is Reform/Progressive Judaism?

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Who We Are (2/12)
Previous Document: Question 2.4: What is Orthodox Judaism?
Next Document: Question 2.6: What about other movements?
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                                  Answer:
   
   Reform is the most liberal of the major movements within Judaism
   today. It started in the 1800s in Germany during the emancipation, and
   encouraged examination of religion with an eye towards rationality and
   egalitarianism. Viewed from the light of today's Reform practice, the
   original adherents went a little-too-far; often, this early form
   (which lasted until the 1960s, in some respects) is referred to as
   "Classic German Reform".
   
    Reform Theology
    
   Reform differs from the other major movements in that it views both
   the Oral and Written laws as a product of Man's hand (specifically, it
   views the Torah as Divinely inspired, but written in the language of
   the time in which it was given). The laws reflect their times, but
   contain many timeless truths. The Reform movement stresses retention
   of the key principles of Judaism (as it sees them; for details,
   consult the Reform Reading List). As for practice, it strongly
   recommends individual study of the traditional practices; however, the
   adherent is free to follow only those practices that increase the
   sanctity of their relationship to G-d. Reform also stresses equality
   between Men and Women. The current statement of principles of Reform
   may be found in the [5]1999 Statement of Principles
   ([6]http://www.ccarnet.org/platforms/principles.html), and in the
   [7]1976 Centenary Perspective
   ([8]http://www.ccarnet.org/platforms/centenary.html). Reform is
   recently rededicating itself to Torah and education. This is
   emphasized in the [9]installation speech of the current president of
   the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (the Reform congregational
   arm), Rabbi Eric Yoffie. The speech may be found at
   (<http://uahc.org/yinaug.html>)
   
   Reform requires familiarity with the laws before choosing not to
   observe them. A non-observant Jew unfamiliar with the laws would not
   be a "serious" Reform Jew. Also, Reform rejects the faith tenets of
   other religions as a matter of first principles.
   
   It should be noted that many of the paths taken by the Reform movement
   differ from those of traditional Judaism. These differences result in
   many of the discussions you will see on S.C.J.
   
    Size of the Movement
    
   In terms of size, the UAHC 1993-1994 annual report notes that there
   were a total of 853 UAHC-affiliated congregations, with a total
   reported congregational membership of 302,193 member units (families,
   singles, etc.). This can be contrasted with the 1983-1984 period,
   where there were 773 congregations with a total of 269,406 member
   units. Congregations range in size from a 2-member-unit congregation
   in Port Gibson, Mississippi, to "mega"-shuls such as Wilshire Blvd
   Temple in Los Angeles (2,123 member units), Anshe Chesed in Cleveland
   Ohio (2,151), Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto Ontario (2,043), Temple
   Israel in Minneapolis Minnesota (2,075), Washington Hebrew
   Congregation in Washington DC (2,783), Congregation Emanu-El in New
   York City (2,650), Temple Israel in W. Bloomfield Michigan (2,659),
   Temple Emanu-El in Dallas Texas (2,526), and Cong. Beth Israel in
   Houston Texas (2,011).
   
    Sources of More Information
    
   This FAQ contains much additional detail on Reform, it's theology,
   it's origins, and how it has changes from its more "rejectionist"
   beginnings. This information may be found in the
   [10]Reform/Progressive portion of this FAQ. For further reading,
   consult the [11]Reform Reading List.

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Who We Are (2/12)
Previous Document: Question 2.4: What is Orthodox Judaism?
Next Document: Question 2.6: What about other movements?

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