The Devolution of Reform Judaism

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The official body of Reform Judaism (known as Progressive Judaism in other parts of the world) in North America is The Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC). The Rabbinical division of the UAHC is the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). Reform Judaism was founded in North America in the middle of the 19th Century by Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise. The seminary at which young men and women train to become rabbis and cantors is Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) which has campuses located in Cincinnatti, New York City, Los Angeles and Jerusalem.

In 1885 a group of Reform rabbis published a declaration of principles, which was succinct and elegant in its statement of philosophy. It has been all downhill since then, as the Zionist movement began to co-opt virtually every arm of the organized Jewish community in N. America.

In the following documents, I quote only the passages pertaining to either Zionism or Israel:

CCAR Declaration of Principles, Pittsburgh 1885

Convening at the call of Kaufmann Kohler of NY, Reform rabbis from around the U.S. met from Nov. 16 through Nov.19, 1885, with Isaac Mayer Wise presiding.

Principle #5 – We recognize, in the modern era of universal culture of heart and intellect, the approaching of the realization of Israel’s great Messianic hope for the establishment of the kingdom of truth, justice and peace among all men. We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.

Principle #6 – We recognize in Judaism a progressive religion, ever striving to be in accord with the postulates of reasoné.Christianity and Islam, being daughter religions of Judaism, we (therefore) appreciate their providential mission, to aid in the spreading of monotheistic and moral truth. We acknowledge that the spirit of broad humanity of our age is our ally in the fulfillment of our missionéin the establishment of the reign of truth and righteousness among men.

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CCAR The Guiding Principles of Reform Judaism, Columbus 1937

Preamble: In view of the changes that have taken place in the modern world and the consequent need of stating anew the teachings of Reform Judaism, the CCAR makes the following declaration of principles. It presents them not as a fixed creed but as a guide for the progressive elements of Jewry.

A. Judaism and its Foundations

5. Israel [ author’s note: The Israel being referred to here is K’lal Yisroel é The people Israel, the spiritual descendents of the prophet Jacob; not the State of Israel, or The Land of Israel ] Judaism is the soul of which Israel is the body. Living in all parts of the world, Israel has been held together by ties of A COMMON HISTORY, and above all by the heritage of faith. Though we recognize in the group loyalty of Jews who have become estranged from our religious tradition, a bond which still unites them with us, we maintain that it is by its religion and for its religion that the Jewish people has livedé.IN THE REHABILITATION OF PALESTINE, THE LAND HALLOWED BY MEMORIES AND HOPES, WE BEHOLD THE PROMISE OF RENEWED LIFE FOR MANY OF OUR BRETHREN. WE AFFIRM THE OBLIGATION OF ALL JEWRY TO AID IN ITS UP-BUILDING AS A JEWISH HOMELAND BY ENDEAVORING TO MAKE IT NOT ONLY A HAVE OF REFUGE FOR THE OPPRESSED BUT ALSO A CENTER OF JEWISH CULTURE AND SPIRITUAL LIFE.

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CCAR Reform Judaism: A Centenary Perspective, Adopted at San Francisco, 1976

One Hundred Years: What We Have Learned

Obviously, muchéhas changed in the past century. The Holocaust shattered our easy optimism about humanity and its inevitable progress. The State of Israel, through its many accomplishments, raised our sense of the Jews AS A PEOPLE, to knew heights of aspiration and devotionéthe spiritual emptiness of much of Western culture, have taught us to be less dependent on the values of our society and to reassert what remains perennially valid in Judaism’s teaching. WE HAVE LEARNED THAT THE SURVIVAL OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE IS OF HIGHEST PRIORITY and that in carrying out our Jewish responsibilities we help move humanity toward its messianic fulfillment.

Diversity Within Unity: The Hallmark of Reform

2. The People Israel é The Jewish people and Judaism defy precise definition because both are in the process of becomingé.Born as Hebrews in the ancient Near East, we are bound together like all ethnic groups by language, land, history, culture and institutions. But the people of Israel is unique because of its involvement with God and its resulting perception of the human condition. Throughout our long history our people has been inseparable from its religion with its messianic hope that humanity will be redeemed.

5. Our Obligations: The State of Israel and the Diaspora é We are privileged to live in (a) time.. in which a third Jewish commonwealth has been established in our people’s ancient homeland. We are bound to that land and to the newly reborn State of Israel by innumerable religious and ethnic ties. We have been enriched by its culture and ennobled by its indomitable spirit. We see it providing unique opportunities for Jewish self-expression. WE HAVE BOTH A STAKE AND A RESPONSIBILITY IN BUILDING THE STATE OF ISRAEL, ASSURING ITS SECURITY, AND DEFINING ITS JEWISH CHARACTER. WE ENCOURAGE ALIYAH FOR THOSE WHO WISH TGO FIND MAXIMUM PERSONAL FULFILLMENT IN THE CAUSE OF ZION. We demand that Reform Judaism be unconditionally legitimized in the State of Israel.

At the same time that we consider the State of Israel vital to the welfare of Judaism everywhere, we reaffirm the mandate of our tradition to create strong Jewish communities wherever we live. A GENUINE JEWISH LIFE IS POSSIBLE IN ANY LANDé.THE FOUNDATION OF JEWISH COMMUNITY LIFE IS THE SYNAGOGUE.

The State of Israel and the Diaspora, in fruitful dialogue, CAN SHOW HOW A PEOPLE TRANSCENDS NATIONALISM EVEN AS IT AFFIRMS IT, thereby setting an example for humanity which remains largely concerned with dangerously parochial goals.

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CCAR é A Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism Adopted at the 1999 Pittsburgh Convention May 1999 é Sivan 5759 [ Prior statements did NOT give the Hebrew calendar year é z]

(Section 3) ISRAEL

érecognizing that all Jews are responsible for one another, we reach out to all Jews across ideological and geographical boundaries.

We are committed to Medinat Israel, the State of Israel, and rejoice in its accomplishments. We affirm the unique qualities of living in Eretz Israel, the land of Israel and encourage Aliyah, immigration to Israel.

We 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 neighborsé.

We 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 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 COMMUNITIES.

IN ALL THESE WAYS AND MORE, ISRAEL GIVES MEANING AND PURPOSE TO OUR LIVES.

A QUOTE:

” For much of the past fifty years the real object of worship of much of the Jewish people has been Israel and Zionism. Unfortunately, like all false gods, this one has failed to satisfy the spiritual hunger of the Jewish people. If many Jews turn away from Judaism today, Israel has played no small part in that process. Judaism may be one of Israel’s most important casualties.” – Rabbi Michael Lerner é Tikkun Magazine

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