American Reform Judaism: An Introduction

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9780813532196: American Reform Judaism: An Introduction
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The only comprehensive and up-to-date look at Reform Judaism, this book analyzes the forces currently challenging the Reform movement, now the largest Jewish denomination in the United States.

To distinguish itself from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the Reform movement tries to be an egalitarian, open, and innovative version of the faith true to the spirit of the tradition but nonetheless fully compatible with modern secular life. Promoting itself in this way, Reform Judaism has been tremendously successful in recruiting a variety of people—intermarried families, feminists, gays and lesbians, and interracial families among others—who resist more traditional forms of worship.

As an unintended result of this success, the movement now struggles with an identity crisis brought on by its liberal theology, which teaches that each Jew is free to practice Judaism more or less as he or she pleases. In the absence of the authority that comes from a theology based on a commanding, all-powerful God, can Reform Judaism continue to thrive? Can it be broadly inclusive and still be uniquely and authentically Jewish?

Taking this question as his point of departure, Dana Evan Kaplan provides a broad overview of the American Reform movement and its history, theology, and politics.  He then takes a hard look at the challenges the movement faces as it attempts to reinvent itself in the new millennium.  In so doing, Kaplan gives the reader a sense of where Reform Judaism has come from, where it stands on the major issues, and where it may be going.

Addressing the issues that have confronted the movement—including the ordination of women, acceptance of homosexuality, the problem of assimilation, the question of rabbinic officiation at intermarriages, the struggle for acceptance in Israel, and Jewish education and others—Kaplan sheds light on the connection between Reform ideology and cultural realities. He unflinchingly, yet optimistically, assesses the movement’s future and cautions that stormy weather may be ahead. 

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About the Author:

A noted Jewish studies scholar as well as a pulpit rabbi, Dana brings excitement and energy to synagogue scholar in residence programs, guest lectureships, and Jewish book fairs. His research interests are broad, from contemporary Reform Judaism to American Jewish history, from Judaism in contemporary film to Jewish humor.

From Publishers Weekly:

A rabbi and a scholar, Kaplan combines his impressive background with diligent research and strong opinions to produce this lively account of Reform Judaism. Starting with history, he traces the roots of this denomination in Germany, but his emphasis is clearly on its development and current status in America. Kaplan examines the theology of Reform Judaism, stressing the do-it-yourself attitude that originally rejected Jewish tradition in favor of serving the needs of contemporary Jews. This approach, known as Classical Reform, has recently given way to increasingly successful efforts to restore traditional beliefs and practices. However, conflicts have arisen, not only with advocates of Classical Reform, but also with the liberal positions held by some leaders of the Reform movement. The latter have embraced ordination of women, acceptance of gays and lesbians and a degree of proselytizing, especially among the non-Jewish spouses in inter-marriages. According to Kaplan, these departures from Reform tradition contradict the simultaneous return to tradition, arguing that "Reform is moving in two directions at the same time." He concludes that "the Reform movement... is going to have to develop a coherent, effective strategy for reconciling autonomy and authority." While Kaplan's presentation focuses on Reform Judaism, his astute reasoning has value for all religious groups that struggle with maintaining their established beliefs in the face of the demands and challenges posed by modernity.
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Book Description Rutgers University Press, United States, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The only comprehensive and up-to-date look at Reform Judaism, this book analyzes the forces currently challenging the Reform movement, now the largest Jewish denomination in the United States. To distinguish itself from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the Reform movement tries to be an egalitarian, open, and innovative version of the faith true to the spirit of the tradition but nonetheless fully compatible with modern secular life. Promoting itself in this way, Reform Judaism has been tremendously successful in recruiting a variety of people-intermarried families, feminists, gays and lesbians, and interracial families among others-who resist more traditional forms of worship. As an unintended result of this success, the movement now struggles with an identity crisis brought on by its liberal theology, which teaches that each Jew is free to practice Judaism more or less as he or she pleases. In the absence of the authority that comes from a theology based on a commanding, all-powerful God, can Reform Judaism continue to thrive? Can it be broadly inclusive and still be uniquely and authentically Jewish? Taking this question as his point of departure, Dana Evan Kaplan provides a broad overview of the American Reform movement and its history, theology, and politics. He then takes a hard look at the challenges the movement faces as it attempts to reinvent itself in the new millennium. In so doing, Kaplan gives the reader a sense of where Reform Judaism has come from, where it stands on the major issues, and where it may be going. Addressing the issues that have confronted the movement-including the ordination of women, acceptance of homosexuality, the problem of assimilation, the question of rabbinic officiation at intermarriages, the struggle for acceptance in Israel, and Jewish education and others-Kaplan sheds light on the connection between Reform ideology and cultural realities. He unflinchingly, yet optimistically assesses the movement s future and cautions that stormy weather may be ahead. Seller Inventory # AAN9780813532196

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Book Description Rutgers University Press, United States, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The only comprehensive and up-to-date look at Reform Judaism, this book analyzes the forces currently challenging the Reform movement, now the largest Jewish denomination in the United States. To distinguish itself from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the Reform movement tries to be an egalitarian, open, and innovative version of the faith true to the spirit of the tradition but nonetheless fully compatible with modern secular life. Promoting itself in this way, Reform Judaism has been tremendously successful in recruiting a variety of people-intermarried families, feminists, gays and lesbians, and interracial families among others-who resist more traditional forms of worship. As an unintended result of this success, the movement now struggles with an identity crisis brought on by its liberal theology, which teaches that each Jew is free to practice Judaism more or less as he or she pleases. In the absence of the authority that comes from a theology based on a commanding, all-powerful God, can Reform Judaism continue to thrive? Can it be broadly inclusive and still be uniquely and authentically Jewish? Taking this question as his point of departure, Dana Evan Kaplan provides a broad overview of the American Reform movement and its history, theology, and politics. He then takes a hard look at the challenges the movement faces as it attempts to reinvent itself in the new millennium. In so doing, Kaplan gives the reader a sense of where Reform Judaism has come from, where it stands on the major issues, and where it may be going. Addressing the issues that have confronted the movement-including the ordination of women, acceptance of homosexuality, the problem of assimilation, the question of rabbinic officiation at intermarriages, the struggle for acceptance in Israel, and Jewish education and others-Kaplan sheds light on the connection between Reform ideology and cultural realities. He unflinchingly, yet optimistically assesses the movement s future and cautions that stormy weather may be ahead. Seller Inventory # AAN9780813532196

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Book Description Rutgers University Press, United States, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. The only comprehensive and up-to-date look at Reform Judaism, this book analyzes the forces currently challenging the Reform movement, now the largest Jewish denomination in the United States. To distinguish itself from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the Reform movement tries to be an egalitarian, open, and innovative version of the faith true to the spirit of the tradition but nonetheless fully compatible with modern secular life. Promoting itself in this way, Reform Judaism has been tremendously successful in recruiting a variety of people-intermarried families, feminists, gays and lesbians, and interracial families among others-who resist more traditional forms of worship. As an unintended result of this success, the movement now struggles with an identity crisis brought on by its liberal theology, which teaches that each Jew is free to practice Judaism more or less as he or she pleases. In the absence of the authority that comes from a theology based on a commanding, all-powerful God, can Reform Judaism continue to thrive? Can it be broadly inclusive and still be uniquely and authentically Jewish? Taking this question as his point of departure, Dana Evan Kaplan provides a broad overview of the American Reform movement and its history, theology, and politics. He then takes a hard look at the challenges the movement faces as it attempts to reinvent itself in the new millennium. In so doing, Kaplan gives the reader a sense of where Reform Judaism has come from, where it stands on the major issues, and where it may be going. Addressing the issues that have confronted the movement-including the ordination of women, acceptance of homosexuality, the problem of assimilation, the question of rabbinic officiation at intermarriages, the struggle for acceptance in Israel, and Jewish education and others-Kaplan sheds light on the connection between Reform ideology and cultural realities. He unflinchingly, yet optimistically assesses the movement s future and cautions that stormy weather may be ahead. Seller Inventory # BTE9780813532196

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