Reform Judaism and Jewish Ethics 11/04/2013
No denominations until the Emancipation: Western Europe.
Modern vs. pre-modern era: multiple truths existing simultaneously.
Church held the Truth :ifferent churches throughout Europe offered the Jewish
community the opportunity for entrance into civil society.
Having civic rights
Jews having access to the secular society with civic rights: questions asked—can
people be Jewish in another way?
Not like ancestors
Like the different forms of Christianity: alternatives to express faith
Prior, the church had told Jews what to wear
Documentary theory of the written Torah: Protestant scholars. Questions asked: what
would it mean today to be Jewish?
Reform Judaism: using secular knowledge to help us understand the essential parts of
what Judaism is. First chapter of Genesis: world created in six days. Not said how long
a day is though.
All questions are open if they lead you to try and discern the essence of what Judaism
Ethical monotheism: Truth—there is one god and they promoted an ethical lifestyle as
understood by the Hebrew prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Amos).
Didn’t speak about historical events but about…
Structure life around the words of the prophets it’ll be less important what clothes you
wear, if you cover your hair, using Hebrew as the language of prayer, if men and women
sit together in prayer.
Promoted notion: how you live your life under the authority of the prophetic word was
more important than the laws as they are put down in the Talmud. This used to be
Early Reform Jews were excommunicated, not seen as legitimate Notion of a chief rabbi: appointed by the government to be the official spokesperson for
the Jewish community.
“ a Reform rabbi was not considered to be a real rabbi “
Paramount focus of Jewish religious life for non-traditional Jews. Previous importance of
denominations: traditional vs. non-traditional.
Judaism is about what you believe
The source of religious authority and the ethical decision making. It is organic, ever
Top-Traditions: accepted, inherited
Right-Community-people affiliated with: synagogue, fam