Reform movement in Judaism

Reform movement in Judaism

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The Reform movement in Judaism, originally named Reformed Society of Israelites, for Promoting true Principles of Judaism, according to its Purity and Spirit, is a historic and on-going religious and social movement
Social movement
Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change....

 that originated simultaneously in the early nineteenth century in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The term is used by two widely read and frequently cited historians of the movement: David Philipson
David Philipson
David Philipson was an American Reform rabbi, orator, and author. The son of German-Jewish immigrants, he was a member of the first graduating class of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. As an adult, he was one of the leaders of American Reform Judaism and a philanthropic leader in his...

 and Michael Meyer. Philipson wrote The Reform movement in Judaism (1903, 1931) covering the movement from its beginnings up until 1930. Meyer wrote Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism (1978). Meyer's book, the first general history of the movement since Philipson, updates Philipson's coverage to reflect modern concerns with bias and to extend the history of the movement up to the 1970s.

Throughout its history, Jewish beliefs and practices in the reform movement
Jewish beliefs and practices in the reform movement
Jewish beliefs and practices have undergone vast changes in the reform movement of Judaism, known also as Progressive, Reform or Liberal Judaism. Due to its origins in Enlightenment-era Germany, the reform movement has eyed traditional Jewish beliefs through the lens of liberal thought, such as...

 have undergone dynamic changes and innovations. Due to its origins in Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

-era Germany, the reform movement has eyed traditional Jewish beliefs through the lens of liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 thought, such as autonomy
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

, modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

, universalism
Universalism
Universalism in its primary meaning refers to religious, theological, and philosophical concepts with universal application or applicability...

, and the historical-philosophical critique of religion. The reform movement in Judaism challenged many traditionalist Jewish doctrines, adapted or eliminated practices, and introduced its own theological and communal innovations.

Whether in support or reaction, some Ashkenazi Jewish denominations can trace their intellectual and organization origins to this critical time in Jewish history.

Germany


In response to the Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

, Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

, and Jewish Emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

, reform-minded thinkers within German Jewry, such as Israel Jacobson
Israel Jacobson
Israel Jacobson was a German philanthropist and, according to Borowitz and Patz in Explaining Reform Judaism , is considered the "father" of the Reform movement in Judaism.-Origins:...

, Abraham Geiger
Abraham Geiger
Abraham Geiger was a German rabbi and scholar who led the founding of Reform Judaism...

, Samuel Holdheim
Samuel Holdheim
Samuel Holdheim was a German rabbi and author, and one of the more extreme leaders of the early Reform Movement in Judaism. A pioneer in modern Jewish homiletics, he was often at odds with the Orthodox community.- Early life :...

 and Leopold Zunz
Leopold Zunz
Leopold Zunz was a German Reform rabbi and writer, the founder of what has been termed "Jewish Studies" or "Judaic Studies" , the critical investigation of Jewish literature, hymnology and ritual...

, sought to change Jewish belief and practice. Initially, the reformers did not call for a separate organizational structure. They convened synods but did not formally establish independent organizations or a rabbinical body. However, reform efforts shifted after the German state permitted the establishment of separate organizational structures in the Jewish community, including congregations. During the 1840s and 1850s, separate reform congregations were set up in two major centers of the German Jewry, Frankfurt and Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. No other separatist reform congregations were established for decades in Germany and key reformers, including Geiger, did not serve in these separate synagogues. The movement did take the significant step, in 1870, to create a rabbinical seminary and research center known as the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums
Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums
The Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, or Higher Institute for Jewish Studies, was a rabbinical seminary, established in Berlin in 1872 destroyed by the Nazi government of Germany in 1942...

.

Beyond Germany


In Denmark, controversial Reform movement efforts were undertaken by Mendel Levin Nathanson and Isaac Noah Mannheimer
Isaac Noah Mannheimer
Isaac Noah Mannheimer was a Jewish preacher.The son of a chazzan, he began the study of the Talmud at an early age, though not to the neglect of secular studies...

. The dispute was sparked by a reform confirmation service in 1817. Meyer states:"... the Copenhagen community remained divided between unbending traditionalists and Jewish minimalists. ... Among the reformers were highly assimilated families, including that of Nathanson, whose hold on Judaism was so weak that it could not prevent apostasy in the next generation.

In Austria, Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 was introduced to the Reform movement through Isaac Noah Mannheimer
Isaac Noah Mannheimer
Isaac Noah Mannheimer was a Jewish preacher.The son of a chazzan, he began the study of the Talmud at an early age, though not to the neglect of secular studies...

, who left Copenhagen in 1821 and found in Vienna that "the Jewish elite mingled freely with highly placed Gentiles," gained sometimes great wealth, yet whose 135 families were barely tolerated by the empire. This elite built a large, high status new Temple and recruited Mannheimer. Since Mannheimer was "known as a man who in Denmark had expressed patently reformist views," the Temple and its community sought to dampen reform and called it "restoration" instead.

Around the same time, reform efforts in North America started to emerge, but with none of the governmental opposition and regulation facing their European counterparts. Christian Americans may have been prejudiced, but the separation of church and state
Separation of church and state
The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state....

 philosophy allowed for the Reform movement to blossom differently overseas. In addition, North America lacked rabbis of any kind, Orthodox or reformist. In 1825, lay members of Beth Elohim
Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim
Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is a historic synagogue located at 90 Hasell Street in Charleston, South Carolina...

 in Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

 founded the Reformed Society of Israelites as a breakaway ground seeking mild reforms. In America, while the Charleston effort "was only slightly influenced by the German model," this soon changed: "the classical Reform ideology in America was almost fully developed in Europe and transplanted to the United States."

In Hungary, a supporter of Geiger
Abraham Geiger
Abraham Geiger was a German rabbi and scholar who led the founding of Reform Judaism...

 and of the Hamburg Temple emerged as an influential thinker and leader: Aaron Chorin
Aaron Chorin
Áron Chorin was a Hungarian rabbi and pioneer of religious reform. He favored the use of the organ and of prayers in the vernacular, and was instrumental in founding schools along modern lines. Chorin was thus regarded as a leader of the newer Judaism...

 (1766–1844). Chorin "served as a valuable authority for the German Reformers" and, albeit from Hungary, was "one of the movement's pioneers." A talmudic scholar, Chorin was traditional at first but then "began to deviate from the norm." He changed the kashrut requirements, condemned kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

, instituted some of the earliest changes in the alenu prayer practice, and abolished amulets
Tefillin
Tefillin also called phylacteries are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, which are worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. Although "tefillin" is technically the plural form , it is loosely used as a singular as...

 and the kol nidre
Kol Nidre
Kol Nidre is an Aramaic declaration recited in the synagogue before the beginning of the evening service on every Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement...

 prayer of Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

. According to Meyer, "Chorin was a reformer on the basis of Haskalah, not historical development. With his rabbinic training, he wrote Jewish law responsa
Responsa
Responsa comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them.-In the Roman Empire:Roman law recognised responsa prudentium, i.e...

 to permit train travel and organ playing on Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

. And Chorin was not the only Hungarian reformer.

In Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

, there were "less thoroughgoing religious reformers" who were inspired by the reform Temple in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

. Budapest reformers, in turn, "moderate reforms" were undertaken in various cities and outreach efforts were made to various German rabbis, including Zacharias Frankel, widely seen as the pioneer of Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

. Ignaz Einhorn, a Hungarian-born rabbi, "put forward a program based neither on halakhic reform nor on 'Mosaic' Judaism – in fact not on a reform of historical Judaism at all, but on an alternative kind of Judaism called 'Reform.' Though Einhorn said little which had not already been expressed by Holdheim, nowhere previously had the principles and program of a radical Reform Judaism been formulated as clearly." Einhorn sought to abolish the ceremonial element of Judaism and retain its faith and morality. Says Meyer, "Very much like Zacharias Frankel, Einhorn found his authority in what he called 'the religious consciousness of the people' except that here the people (Volk) consisted of the most acculturated among the Jews, those most rooted in the present." Einhorn permitted mixed marriages, ended circumcision
Circumcision
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....

, shifted his congregation's Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

worship to Sundays and, "sounding a note that would be heard often thereafter in American Reform Judaism, was recognized simply by his idea of God and the moral dicta on which he acts."

Out of these multi-faceted Continental European reform developments, there arose a variety of thinkers who, like Ignaz Einhorn, anticipated or participated in reform elsewhere. For instance, after leaving Germany, a rabbi was appointed for a brief stint in Budapest who proved instrumental to reform both in Europe and America: David Einhorn, unrelated to Ignaz, David Einhorn was a "talented radical who would later become a leading figure in American Reform." Indeed, Einhorn had participated in the controversial Frankfurt assembly and his "Reform philosophy had crystallized" in Europe.

In Great Britain, reform efforts were sparked by efforts to change the liturgy at London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

's Bevis Marks
Bevis Marks Synagogue
----Bevis Marks Synagogue is located off Bevis Marks, in the City of London. The synagogue, affiliated to London's historic Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community, is the oldest synagogue in the United Kingdom still in use...

, as had been done with the Hamburg Temple
Hamburg Temple
The Hamburg Temple was the synagogue of the Jewish reform movement in Hamburg from 1818 to 1938. It was the first reform synagogue in Germany....

. Despite some initial reforms in 1836, further alterations were rebuffed in 1839. in requested the introduction of such alterations and modifications as were in the line of the changes introduced in the Reform synagogue in Hamburg and other places. The British reformers established an independent congregation, the West London Synagogue of British Jews
West London Synagogue
The West London Synagogue of British Jews was established on 15 April 1840. It is one of the oldest synagogues in the United Kingdom and the oldest Reform synagogue in the UK.-History:...

, on 15 April 1840. The West London Synagogue reformers paved the way for the modern British reform movement, the Movement for Reform Judaism
Movement for Reform Judaism
Movement for Reform Judaism is the main organizational body of the Jewish Reform community in Great Britain....

. In 1856, Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 was passed to allow the minister of the West London Synagogue of British Jews to register marriage ceremonies. This act established the full autonomy of the congregation and ensured its equality before the law with the Orthodox congregations.

Across the Atlantic, by 1873 sufficient Reform congregations had emerged to organize as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC). Shortly after, in 1875, the Hebrew Union College
Hebrew Union College
The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the oldest extant Jewish seminary in the Americas and the main seminary for training rabbis, cantors, educators and communal workers in Reform Judaism.HUC-JIR has campuses in Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem.The Jerusalem...

 was establish to improve the quality of rabbis in the US.

As in Europe, there were significant disagreements among the reformers over the role of tradition. In 1883 a banquet was planned to celebrate the first graduating class of rabbis from Hebrew Union College
Hebrew Union College
The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the oldest extant Jewish seminary in the Americas and the main seminary for training rabbis, cantors, educators and communal workers in Reform Judaism.HUC-JIR has campuses in Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem.The Jerusalem...

. The more radical element planned the banquet with a menu containing shrimp. Soon after this banquet, known as the Trefa Banquet, intensified the conflict between the radical and conservative reformers. The conflict further intensified in 1885 when a fierce debate broke out between Kaufmann Kohler
Kaufmann Kohler
Kaufmann Kohler was a German-born U.S. reform rabbi and theologian.-Life and work:Kaufmann Kohler was born into a family of rabbis...

 and Alexander Kohut
Alexander Kohut
Alexander Kohut was a rabbi and orientalist. He belonged to a family of rabbis, the most noted among them being Rabbi Israel Palota, his great-grandfather, Rabbi Amram , and Rabbi Chayyim Kitssee,...

 over the nature of reform.

In response to debate, Kohler called a conference of reform-minded rabbis in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in the US Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Allegheny County. Regionally, it anchors the largest urban area of Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley, and nationally, it is the 22nd-largest urban area in the United States...

. Isaac Mayer Wise
Isaac Mayer Wise
Isaac Mayer Wise , was an American Reform rabbi, editor, and author.-Early life:...

, the rabbinical head of Hebrew Union College, presided over the conference. The conference produced the Pittsburgh Platform
Pittsburgh Platform
The Pittsburgh Platform is a pivotal 19th century document in the history of the American Reform Movement in Judaism that called for Jews to adopt a modern approach to the practice of their faith...

. This platform was highly controversial and an organizational split between those more and less conservative. In 1887 a separate rabbinical school, the Jewish Theological Seminary
Jewish Theological Seminary of America
The Jewish Theological Seminary of America is one of the academic and spiritual centers of Conservative Judaism, and a major center for academic scholarship in Jewish studies.JTS operates five schools: Albert A...

 was founded. In 1889, the more liberal rabbis organized under the banner of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Central Conference of American Rabbis
The Central Conference of American Rabbis , founded in 1889 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, is the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the United States and Canada, the CCAR is the largest and oldest rabbinical organization in the world....

.

The Twentieth Century


At the start of the twentieth century, the European reform movement gained new steam organizationally. In Germany, rabbis and followers organized under the banner of Liberal Judaism
Liberal Judaism
Liberal Judaism , is one of the two forms of Progressive Judaism found in the United Kingdom, the other being Reform Judaism. Liberal Judaism, which developed at the beginning of the twentieth century is less conservative than UK Reform Judaism...

. Meanwhile, inspired largely by Claude Montefiore
Claude Montefiore
Claude Joseph Goldsmid Montefiore was son of Nathaniel Montefiore, and the great nephew of Sir Moses Montefiore. Some identify him as a significant figure in the contexts of modern Jewish religious thought, Jewish-Christian relations, and Anglo-Jewish socio-politics.-Education:He was educated at...

, Lily Montagu
Lily Montagu
Lilian Helen "Lily" Montagu, CBE was the first woman to play a major role in Reform Judaism.She was the sixth of ten children born to Ellen Cohen Montagu and Samuel Montagu , a self-made millionaire by the age of thirty, Samuel Montagu was a wealthy banker and bullion broker, a member of the...

 spearheaded reform efforts in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

. Around 1902, following liturgical changes and debates, they formed the Jewish Religious Union in London. Liberal Judaism steadily gained adherents after the founding in 1911 of the Liberal Jewish synagogue, the first of more than thirty Liberal congregations in the UK.

At the same time, reform-minded French Jews established the Union Liberale Israelite, which was criticized as a revolutionary schism.

In 1926, representatives from the U.S. and Europe convened the first international conference for the Reform movement in Judaism and formed World Union for Progressive Judaism
World Union for Progressive Judaism
The World Union for Progressive Judaism describes itself as the "international umbrella organization for the Reform, Liberal, Progressive and Reconstructionist movements." This overall Jewish religious movement is based in about 40 countries with more than 1,000 affiliated synagogues...

. With British and then American leadership, the WUPJ spread the reform movement to many countries, most notably Israel, to which the WUPJ headquarters were relocated.

In the United States, the Reform movement grew significantly through the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and its affiliates. In 1922, Reform Rabbi Stephen S. Wise established the Jewish Institute of Religion
Jewish Institute of Religion
The Jewish Institute of Religion was an educational establishment created by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise in 1922 in New York City. While generally incorporating Reform Judaism, it was separate from the previously established Hebrew Union College...

 in New York, which merged with Hebrew Union College
Hebrew Union College
The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the oldest extant Jewish seminary in the Americas and the main seminary for training rabbis, cantors, educators and communal workers in Reform Judaism.HUC-JIR has campuses in Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles and Jerusalem.The Jerusalem...

 in 1950. Other centers were opened in Los Angeles (1954) and Jerusalem (1963).

On policy matters, the American Reform movement has had a number of official platforms. The Columbus platform was written in 1937 by the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis
Central Conference of American Rabbis
The Central Conference of American Rabbis , founded in 1889 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, is the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the United States and Canada, the CCAR is the largest and oldest rabbinical organization in the world....

 (CCAR). The CCAR rewrote its principles in 1976 with its Centenary Perspective and rewrote them again in the 1999 as A Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism. According to the CCAR, personal autonomy still has precedence over these platforms. In 1983, the Central Conference of American Rabbis took one of its most controversial stands and formally affirmed that a Jewish identity can be passed down through either the mother or the father, if the child is raised with a Jewish identity.

The emergence of Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism


Historians of Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

 trace its intellectual origins to thinkers like Zacharias Frankel, who held a religious middle ground between German Reformers and Orthodoxy. Institutionally, the Conservative movement in the US developed in reaction to reforms. For instance, a group of rabbis split with the Reform movement due to the controversial Pittsburgh Platform
Pittsburgh Platform
The Pittsburgh Platform is a pivotal 19th century document in the history of the American Reform Movement in Judaism that called for Jews to adopt a modern approach to the practice of their faith...

. In 1887, they founded a separate rabbinical school, the Jewish Theological Seminary
Jewish Theological Seminary of America
The Jewish Theological Seminary of America is one of the academic and spiritual centers of Conservative Judaism, and a major center for academic scholarship in Jewish studies.JTS operates five schools: Albert A...

 and, in 1901, Conservative rabbis organized as the Rabbinical Assembly
Rabbinical Assembly
The Rabbinical Assembly is the international association of Conservative rabbis. The RA was founded in 1901 to shape the ideology, programs, and practices of the Conservative movement. It publishes prayerbooks and books of Jewish interest, and oversees the work of the Committee on Jewish Law and...

 and by 1913 their congregations banded together under the banner of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism is the primary organization of synagogues practicing Conservative Judaism in North America...

.

From the Conservative movement
Conservative movement
Conservative movement may refer to:*Conservatism - Political philosophy*Conservative Judaism - A Jewish denomination, unrelated to political ideology....

, another liberal, non-orthodox Judaism approach was created by Mordecai Kaplan
Mordecai Kaplan
Mordecai Menahem Kaplan , was a rabbi, essayist and Jewish educator and the co-founder of Reconstructionist Judaism along with his son-in-law Ira Eisenstein.-Life and work:...

. Initially, Mordecai Kaplan was deeply opposed to the formation of yet another American Jewish denomination. In 1955, the Reconstructionist Fellowship of Congregations was formed. This organization allowed reconstructionist congregations to share common concerns but required members to be dual affiliated with either the US Reform or Conservative movement. In 1961 the dual affiliation requirement was dropped and Reconstructionist Judaism
Reconstructionist Judaism
Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern American-based Jewish movement based on the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan . The movement views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization. It originated as a branch of Conservative Judaism, before it splintered...

 became a full fledged third denomination on the American scene. After building its own rabbinical seminary
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College , is located in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, about 10 miles north of central Philadelphia. RRC is the only seminary affiliated with Reconstructionist Judaism. It is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and...

 and congregational presence, the Reconstructionists eventually affiliated in the 1990s with the World Union of Progressive Judaism.

Orthodoxy and the Reform movement in Judaism


Historians, such as Jacob Katz
Jacob Katz
Jacob Katz was a Jewish historian and educator. He established the history curriculum used in Israel's High Schools....

, David Ellenson
David Ellenson
David Ellenson is a rabbi who is known as a leader of the Reform movement in Judaism. He is the president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion , and the I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought...

 and Shmuel Feiner, see the co-emergence of the non-Orthodox and Orthodox movements as a gradual, dialectical process. This dialectical dynamic is dominated largely by controversy and conflict, of both an intellectual and organizational character, yet mixed as well with intermittent measures of cooperation, dialogue, and personnel exchange. In addition, both movements went through a gradual process of identity formation and ideological differentiation—primarily during the 19th century, yet continuing to this day.

Criticism and interchange


Since the very beginnings of the movement, reformers and traditionalists have often been strongly critical of one another.

Reformers often felt traditionalists were encouraging secularization and assimilation by creating an identity that Jews could not relate to or be nurtured by. They accused traditionalists of being irrational or intellectually naive in rejecting what modern textual criticism, historiography, psychology, anthropology, and sociology had to say about Jewish history and peoplehood.

Traditionalists often argued on behalf of tradition making much the same claims: that reformers were creating a meaningless Jewish identity that encouraged assimilation and failed to nurture the Jewish spirit. They accused reformers of dishonoring Torah, and even God in their pursuit of the modern.

Yet despite this interchange between Traditional and Reform, there has from time to time been a positive flow of ideas between the communities. Many of the early reformers had a rich knowledge of Jewish text and tradition to draw on, a knowledge nurtured by years spent studying in traditional yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

s.

When Western modes of university study began to dominate the educational landscape of the reformers, they soon found themselves with a generation of educators who knew a great deal about modern scholarship and very little about the historic content of Judaism. In recent years non-orthodox Judaisms have turned to the traditional yeshiva or bet-midrash model, and even imported Orthodox teachers to help them maintain the connection to tradition. Thus the US conservative movement has its Conservative Yeshiva
Conservative Yeshiva
The Conservative Yeshiva is a co-educational institute for study of traditional Jewish texts in Jerusalem, Israel. The Yeshiva was founded in 1995 and is under theAcademic Auspices of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America....

  in Jerusalem and both the New York and Jerusalem school of HUC sponsor part-time batei-midrash.

There has been a similar flow in the other direction as well. Modern Orthodoxy still maintains a traditional approach to Halakhah, but has been increasingly comfortable with the study techniques pioneered by the Wissenschaft des Judentums
Wissenschaft des Judentums
Wissenschaft des Judentums , refers to a nineteenth-century movement premised on the critical investigation of Jewish literature and culture, including rabbinic literature, using scientific methods to analyze the origins of Jewish traditions.-The Verein für Cultur und Wissenschaft der Juden:The ...

 school. Some of the products of that school are found today on almost every yeshiva desk, even those that reject the historical critical method: among them the Aramaic dictionary of Marcus Jastrow
Marcus Jastrow
Marcus Jastrow was a renowned Talmudic scholar, most famously known for his authorship of the popular and comprehensive A Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Babli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature....

 and the concordance of Avraham Even-Shoshan.

Organizational identity


Elements of Orthodoxy developed their cohesive identity in reaction to the Reform movement in Judaism.

In the United States, reformers took control of several synagogue boards, prompting Orthodox members to separate and form new congregations. For example, in Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, the first reform synagogue in the United States, in 1839, the cantor of Beth Elohim
Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim
Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is a historic synagogue located at 90 Hasell Street in Charleston, South Carolina...

 asked the congregation for an organ. Traditionalists opposed the proposal and when the congregation supported the proposal, the traditionalists left and formed their own congregation, Shearith Israel.

In the United Kingdom, Orthodox congregations maintained control of state sponsored religion and reformers were forced to separate and form their own communities.

Also in the United Kingdom, the Masorti movement (Conservative
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

) started in the 1950s when the Chief Rabbi at the time refused to appoint Louis Jacobs
Louis Jacobs
Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism...

 as principal of Jews' College
Jews' College
-Origins and Remit Today:Jews' College, now known as the London School of Jewish Studies , was opened in Finsbury Square, London as a rabbinical seminary in 1855 with the support of Chief Rabbi Nathan Adler and of Sir Moses Montefiore, who had conceived the idea for such a venture as early as...

 and refused to allow him to return to his former congregation. A crisis ensued and the majority of the congregation left and formed the New London Synagogue in 1964. Other synagogues later joined the New London Synagogue and formed the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues
Masorti
The Masorti Movement is the name given to Conservative Judaism in Israel and other countries outside Canada and U.S. Masorti means "traditional" in Hebrew...

.