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Celia Rothenberg

Reform Judaism: The Pittsburgh Platform (November 1885) The Pittsburgh Platform was a formulation of principles agreed upon by the Reform movement at the Pittsburgh Conference in 1885. Convened at the behest of Kaufmann Kohler of New York, the conference was chaired by Isaac M. Wise, one of the foremost figures in Reform Judaism. The principles agreed upon symbolized the merger of the Eastern U.S. and Germanic wings of the Reform movement, distinguished it from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism and remained the basic tenets of Reform Judaism for nearly half a century until their revision by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) in the Columbus Platform of 1937. An examination of the Pittsburgh Platform indicates religious optimism, acceptance of other religious perspectives and emphasis on the Bible as the consecration of the Jewish people to its mission. It also makes modern sensibility the standard by rejecting halachic restrictions on diet, priestly purity and dress and discarding Jewish peoplehood. "We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community." The following points were agreed upon and became known as the Pittsburgh Platform: 1. We recognize in every religion an attempt to grasp the Infinite, and in every mode, source or book of revelation held sacred in any religious system the consciousness of the indwelling of God in man. We hold that Judaism presents the highest conception of the Godidea as taught in our Holy Scriptures and developed and spiritualized by the Jewish teachers, in accordance with the moral and philosophical progress of their respective ages. We maintain that Judaism preserved and defended amidst continual struggles and trials and under enforced isolation, this Godidea as the central religious truth for the human race. 2. We recognize in the Bible the record of the consecration of the Jewish people to its mission as the priest of the one God, and value it as the most potent instrument of religious and moral instruction. We hold that the modern discoveries of scientific researches in the domain of nature and history are not antagonistic to the doctrines of Judaism, the Bible reflecting the primitive ideas of its own age, and at times clothing its conception of divine Providence and Justice dealing with men in miraculous narratives. 3. We recognize in the Mosaic legislation a system of training the Jewish people for its mission during its national life in Palestine, and today we accept as binding only its moral laws, and maintain only such ceremonies as elevate and sanctify o
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