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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Reform Judaism (10/12)
Section - Question 18.1.2: What, if any, are the fundamental principles of Reform?

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   The fundamental principles of today's Reform movement are captured in
   the [5]Statement of Principles
   ([6] adopted by the
   CCAR in May 1999. The following are some excepts from that statement,
   modified slightly for FAQ presentation (e.g., "We" was changed to
   "Reform Jews", etc.). Note that the principles of Reform have changed
   over time, from the 1855 [7]Pittsburgh Platform
   ([8] to the 1937
   [9]Columbus Platform
   ([10], to the 1976
   [11]Centenary Perspective
   ([12], to the 1999
   Statement of Principles.
     * Reform Jews affirm the reality and oneness of G-d, even as we may
       differ in our understanding of the Divine presence.
     * Reform Jews affirm that the Jewish people is bound to G-d by an
       eternal b'rit, covenant, as reflected in our varied understandings
       of Creation, Revelation and Redemption.
     * Reform Jews affirm that every human being is created b'tzelem
       Elohim, in the image of G-d, and that therefore every human life
       is sacred.
     * Reform Jews regard with reverence all of G-d's creation and
       recognize our human responsibility for its preservation and
     * Reform Jews encounter G-d's presence in moments of awe and wonder,
       in acts of justice and compassion, in loving relationships and in
       the experiences of everyday life.
     * Reform Jews respond to G-d daily: through public and private
       prayer, through study and through the performance of other
       mitzvot, sacred obligations -- bein adam la Makom, to G-d, and
       bein adam la-chaveiro, to other human beings.
     * Reform Jews strive for a faith that fortifies us through the
       vicissitudes of our lives -- illness and healing, transgression
       and repentance, bereavement and consolation, despair and hope.
     * Reform Jews continue to have faith that, in spite of the
       unspeakable evils committed against our people and the sufferings
       endured by others, the partnership of G-d and humanity will
       ultimately prevail.
     * Reform Jews trust in our tradition's promise that, although G-d
       created us as finite beings, the spirit within us is eternal.
     * Reform Jews affirm that Torah is the foundation of Jewish life.
     * Reform Jews cherish the truths revealed in Torah, G-d's ongoing
       revelation to our people and the record of our people's ongoing
       relationship with G-d.
     * Reform Jews affirm that Torah is a manifestation of ahavat olam,
       G-d's eternal love for the Jewish people and for all humanity.
     * Reform Jews affirm the importance of studying Hebrew, the language
       of Torah and Jewish liturgy, that we may draw closer to our
       people's sacred texts.
     * Reform Jews are called by Torah to lifelong study in the home, in
       the synagogue and in every place where Jews gather to learn and
       teach. Through Torah study Reform Jews are called to mitzvot, the
       means by which we make our lives holy.
     * Reform Jews are committed to the ongoing study of the whole array
       of mitzvot and to the fulfillment of those that address us as
       individuals and as a community. Some of these mitzvot, sacred
       obligations, have long been observed by Reform Jews; others, both
       ancient and modern, demand renewed attention as the result of the
       unique context of our own times.
     * Reform Jews bring Torah into the world when we seek to sanctify
       the times and places of our lives through regular home and
       congregational observance. Shabbat calls us to bring the highest
       moral values to our daily labor and to culminate the workweek with
       kedushah, holiness, menuchah, rest and oneg, joy. The High Holy
       Days call us to account for our deeds. The Festivals enable us to
       celebrate with joy our people's religious journey in the context
       of the changing seasons. The days of remembrance remind us of the
       tragedies and the triumphs that have shaped our people's
       historical experience both in ancient and modern times. And we
       mark the milestones of our personal journeys with traditional and
       creative rites that reveal the holiness in each stage of life.
     * Reform Jews bring Torah into the world when we strive to fulfill
       the highest ethical mandates in our relationships with others and
       with all of G-d's creation. Partners with G-d in tikkun olam,
       repairing the world, we are called to help bring nearer the
       messianic age. We seek dialogue and joint action with people of
       other faiths in the hope that together we can bring peace, freedom
       and justice to our world. We are obligated to pursue tzedek,
       justice and righteousness, and to narrow the gap between the
       affluent and the poor, to act against discrimination and
       oppression, to pursue peace, to welcome the stranger, to protect
       the earth's biodiversity and natural resources, and to redeem
       those in physical, economic and spiritual bondage. In so doing, we
       reaffirm social action and social justice as a central prophetic
       focus of traditional Reform Jewish belief and practice. We affirm
       the mitzvah of tzedakah, setting aside portions of our earnings
       and our time to provide for those in need. These acts bring us
       closer to fulfilling the prophetic call to translate the words of
       Torah into the works of our hands.
     * Reform Jews are Israel, a people aspiring to holiness, singled out
       through our ancient covenant and our unique history among the
       nations to be witnesses to G-d's presence. We are linked by that
       covenant and that history to all Jews in every age and place.
     * Reform Jews are committed to the mitzvah of ahavat Yisrael, love
       for the Jewish people, and to k'lal Yisrael, the entirety of the
       community of Israel. Recognizing that kol Yisrael arevim zeh
       ba-zeh, all Jews are responsible for one another, we reach out to
       all Jews across ideological and geographical boundaries.
     * Reform Jews embrace religious and cultural pluralism as an
       expression of the vitality of Jewish communal life in Israel and
       the Diaspora.
     * Reform Jews pledge to fulfill Reform Judaism's historic commitment
       to the complete equality of women and men in Jewish life.
     * Reform Jews are an inclusive community, opening doors to Jewish
       life to people of all ages, to varied kinds of families, to all
       regardless of their sexual orientation, to gerim, those who have
       converted to Judaism, and to all individuals and families,
       including the intermarried, who strive to create a Jewish home.
     * Reform Jews believe that we must not only open doors for those
       ready to enter our faith, but also to actively encourage those who
       are seeking a spiritual home to find it in Judaism.
     * Reform Jews are committed to strengthening the people Israel by
       supporting individuals and families in the creation of homes rich
       in Jewish learning and observance.
     * Reform Jews are committed to strengthening the people Israel by
       making the synagogue central to Jewish communal life, so that it
       may elevate the spiritual, intellectual and cultural quality of
       our lives.
     * Reform Jews are committed to Medinat Yisrael, the State of Israel,
       and rejoice in its accomplishments. We affirm the unique qualities
       of living in Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, and encourage
       aliyah, immigration to Israel.
     * Reform Jews are committed to a vision of the State of Israel that
       promotes full civil, human and religious rights for all its
       inhabitants and that strives for a lasting peace between Israel
       and its neighbors.
     * Reform Jews are committed to promoting and strengthening
       Progressive Judaism in Israel, which will enrich the spiritual
       life of the Jewish state and its people.
     * Reform Jews affirm that both Israeli and Diaspora Jewry should
       remain vibrant and interdependent communities. As we urge Jews who
       reside outside Israel to learn Hebrew as a living language and to
       make periodic visits to Israel in order to study and to deepen
       their relationship to the Land and its people, so do we affirm
       that Israeli Jews have much to learn from the religious life of
       Diaspora Jewish communities.
     * Reform Jews are committed to furthering Progressive Judaism
       throughout the world as a meaningful religious way of life for the
       Jewish people.

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