The Reform Movement: From Classical Reform to the Present

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Reform Judaism started as a response to the Enlightenment that occurred in the late 17th and the early 18th century. The Jewish people needed to determine how to best combine new ideologies with their religious practices. The Jewish people suddenly had a new, non-Jewish world that they could be apart of. Some started to lose interest in religion. The Reform Judaism movement was created to adapt to these changes in society. The movement’s fundamental belief was that religious change is good (Kaplan 183). Platforms were created to define the boundaries for Reform Judaism and show how the Reform Movement is different than the traditional form of Judaism (Meyer & Plaut 195). The Reform movement has undergone many significant changes of their…show more content…
Not the Halacha, but rather the morals that are taught in Judaism unites the Reform Jewish community. This view changes when the Columbus Platform was written. The Columbus Platform states that besides the moral demands of Judaism, rituals such as Shabbat and the holydays have inspirational value. The movement came to the conclusion that different rituals are meaningful to different people; therefore it is an individual choice which one to practice. If something is not inspirational and spiritual to the individual they simply do not have to do that specific ritual. Moreover, it was decided that rituals are important in Jewish life to bring the Jews together, and they should be personally relevant and inspiring (Kaplan 173). The theories about Halacha have changed drastically because of the rise of anti-Semitism in the 1930’s, when the Columbus Platform was written (Kaplan 169). Leaders felt that there needed to be a sense of tradition. Also, Eastern European immigrants did not like the Reform service because it was lacking so many of the traditional elements that they practiced before. Therefore, the immigrants influenced the Reform community to return to the more traditional practice of Judaism (Kaplan 170). This feeling of needing something to tie the Jewish community together continued when the Statement of Principles was written. The document states that Reform Jews must bring moral values into their daily life, but they must also observe the high
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