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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Reform Judaism (10/12)
Section - Question 18.3.5: Reform's Position On...The necessity of belief in G-d?

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                                  Answer:
   
   [Adapted from Rabbi Eugene Borowitz's [5]Liberal Judaism]
   
   Belief in G-d is not a problem to some people. They simply know that
   G-d exists and nothing shakes their faith. Most of us are not like
   that. We'd like to believe in G-d, and sometimes think that we do,
   only to find ourselves questioning again. It is clear that in Judaism,
   belief in G-d has not usually meant complete and unwavering certainty.
   This is demonstrated throughout Torah. In Judaism, faith in G-d is
   dynamic; it is not an all-or-nothing, static state of being.
   
   So, does Reform require belief in G-d? There are no ideological tests
   administered; each person's belief is private. Yet in terms of the
   movement, Reform believes in G-d. This belief has been demonstrated
   from the earliest days of the movement; specifically, the
   [6]Pittsburgh Platform
   ([7]http://www.ccarnet.org/platforms/pittsburgh.html) in 1885 said "We
   hold that Judaism presents the highest concept of the G-d-idea as
   taught in our holy Scriptures." It was reaffirmed in 1937 in the
   [8]Columbus Platform
   ([9]http://www.ccarnet.org/platforms/columbus.html): "The heard of
   Judaism and its chief contribution to religion is the doctrine of the
   One, living G-d, who rules the world through law and love.". It was
   reaffirmed yet again in [10]1976
   ([11]http://www.ccarnet.org/platforms/centenary.html): "The
   affirmation of G-d has always been essential to our people's will to
   survive.".
   
   The strength of this conviction at the level of the congregation was
   confirmed again recently. In 1990, a congregation in Cincinatti Ohio
   applied for membership in UAHC. This congregation practices "Judaism
   with a humanistic perspective". It had been briefly involved with the
   Society for Humanistic Judaism, but had found them to be too
   atheistic. The congregation sees itself as a Jewish group, but its
   liturgy deletes any and all mention of G-d, either in the Hebrew or in
   English. This liturgy doesn't include Kiddish or Kaddish, Barechu,
   Shema, Ve'ahavta, Amidah, or Aleinu. Their philosophy doesn't admit of
   either Covenant or commandments (as demonstrated by their haggadah,
   which in Echad Mi Yode'a, replaces the traditional "Two tables of the
   Covenant" with "two people in the Garden of Eden". The responsa
   committee, in response to this application, denied (although not
   unanimously) that this congregation was a Reform congregation. Rabbi
   Gunther Plaut, chair of the committee at the time, wrote:
   
     "Persons of varying shadings of belief or unbelief, practice or
     non-practice, may belong to UAHC congregations as individuals, and
     we respect their rights. But it is different when they come as a
     congregation whose declared principles are at fundamental variance
     with the historic G-d-orientation of Reform Judaism. ... But should
     we not open the gates wide enough to admit even such concepts into
     our fold? Are not diversity and inclusiveness a hallmark fo Reform?
     To this we would reply: yesh gevul, there are limits. Reform
     Judaism cannot be everything, or it will be nothing. The argument
     that we ourselves are excluded by the Orthodox and therefore should
     not keep others out who wish to join us has an attractive sound to
     it. Taken to its inevitable conclusion, however, we would end up
     with a Reform Judaism in which "Reform" determines what "Judaism"
     is and not the other way around."
     
   This position was reaffirmed at the UAHC Board of Trustees meeting in
   1994, which voted 115-13-4 to reject the application for membership.
   Note that in neither case was the rejection unanamous. Interested
   parties issued in the details of both sides of the argument should
   read the articles in the Winter 1994, Volume 23 Number 2, issue of
   "[12]Reform Judaism" ([13]http://www.uahcweb.org/rjmag/) published by
   UAHC.

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