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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Reform Judaism (10/12)
Section - Question 18.1.5: How is Reform Judaism structured in the rest of the world?

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   The world organization for Reform Judaism is the [5]World Union for
   Progressive Judaism ([6], which is
   headquartered in Jerusalem. Outside of North America, Reform is also
   known as "Progressive" or "Liberal" Judaism. A list of all the
   affiliates of the WUPJ may be found at
   [7]; this list includes members
   from Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore,
   Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain,
   Switzerland, UK, Former Soviet Union, Belarus, Georgia, Estonia,
   Ukraine, Russia, Israel, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Brazil, Chile,
   Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatamala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto
   Rico, Dominican Republic, Saint Maarten, St. Thomas, USA, Canada, and
   South Africa.
   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 we Americans call Reform (i.e.
   Classical halakha is not considered binding by its rabbinate or
   laity.) The more liberal Reform Judasim faction seceded, and renamed
   their movement as "Liberal Judaism". They are are more in the mode of
   Classic German Reform. They generally have less Hebrew in their
   services, and are less observant.
   Progressive Jewish congregations are to be found throughout the Jewish
   world, from Europe to Asia, from South America to India and from
   Africa to Australasia. In Israel, in addition to urban congregations,
   there are also two Progressive kibbutzim and a Progressive village
   Where appropriate there are regional umbrella organizations such as
   the [8]Australian and New Zealand Union for Progressive Judaism
   ([9]; the Union of Progressive Jews in
   Germany, Austria and Switzerland; Union of Liberal Jewish
   Congregations in the Netherlands ([10], etc.
   The following are some specific regional notes:
     * United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, Progressive/Reform Judaism
       is represented by the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues
       ([11], known generally as the Liberal
       movement. As part of a process of becoming part of the Progressive
       movement, some Liberal Synagogues changed their name from Liberal
       to Progressive some years back. Yet the distinctions are difficult
       to draw.
       Members of reform congregations in the UK are likely to see
       themselves closer in beliefs to the US Reform movement and not to
       the Conservative. In halachic terms, little now separates the UK
       Reform and Liberal movements, and *both* are affiliated to WUPJ.
       Indeed proposals to merge the two movements arise from time to
       time. The Leo Baeck College is sponsored by both movements, and
       its graduates officiate in both Liberal and Reform synagogues.
       The differences between the two are largely historical. The Reform
       movement developed in the UK independent of the classical German
       liberal trend. The West London Synagogue was established in the
       early 1800's as a breakaway from the Sephardi Bevis Marks
       synagogue in the City of London, so that wealthy jews who had
       moved to the affluent West End district of London had a convenient
       place of worship. Its liturgy adapted to cope with the desire for
       a degree of assimilation and less harsh observence of this class
       of English jewry! A number of congregations throughout the UK over
       time adopted the West London prayerbook. With the outbreak of the
       Second World War, these congregations got together to deal with
       issues of jewish education in the context of children being
       evacuated to the countryside. The [12]Reform Synagogues of Great
       Britain ([13] (the umbrella organisation
       for the Reform movement) dates from this time. Leo Baeck College
       was founded by RSGB (who were later joined by ULPS) in order to
       re-build the European rabbinate following the shoa - and the
       destruction of progressive seminaries in continental Europe. Leo
       Baeck College may be reached at:
    The Sternberg Centre For Judaism
    80 East End Road
    London N3 2SY
    Tel: +44-181-349-4525
    Fax: +44-181-343-0901
       The Liberal movement (and the Liberal Jewish Synagogue) was
       founded in the early part of this century by Lily Montague as an
       adjunct to the then Reform synagogues - with the intention that
       the use of more English in services, etc would prevent some on the
       margins of British jewry assimilating completley and being totally
       lost. The Liberal movement owes more to classical German liberal
       jewry. Reform practices tend to be somewhat more Orthadox than the
       Liberal - (e.g. wearing of tallit, the form of some prayers), but
       when you get down to fundamentals, there is not much in it - as
       the sharing of a rabinnical seminary shows.
       The Masorti movement corresponds more closely to US conservative
       practice in its interpretation of halacha and the from of its
       The UK CCAR equivalent is The [14]Reform Synagogues of Great
       Britain ([15]
       The International Youth Movement, Netzer Olami, has active
       branches of Netzer (acronym: No'ar Tzioni Reformi - Reform Zionist
       Youth) throughout the world. In the UK, contact ULPSNYC-Netzer,
       <[16]> or
       <[17]>. There is also a growing Dayschool
       movement in a number of countries.
   The WUPJ is a constitutent of the World Zionist Organization, and the
   political Zionist arm of Progressive Judaism--ARTZENU--has active
   constituents in most contries.

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