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The Society for Classical Reform Judaism: Renewing the Heritage of American Liberal Judaism for the 21st Century

 

We are committed to the preservation and creative nurturing of the historic ideals of Classical Reform Judaism with its progressive spiritual values, rich intellectual foundations, and distinctive worship traditions. We believe that Classical Reform, which embodies its own integrity and enduring significance in the midst of the many rich streams of Jewish experience through the ages, has a continuing vitality and potential to speak to a new generation of Jews today.

We believe that Judaism is a religious faith with a universal message for all people. While the search for faith and encounter with God is at the heart of this commitment, we recognize the many different ways in which individuals define and experience their religious belief as Jews.

We share with Jews everywhere special ties of history and destiny. We understand the Jewish people as a community of faith, bound together by our shared experience, and grounded in the distinctive teachings of the Jewish religion. The rich and varied ethnic and cultural traditions of the Jewish experience throughout the ages offer meaningful dimensions for our religious identity, but our faith is timeless and universal in its aspirations.

We uphold the Prophetic vision that calls us to active engagement in the struggle for peace and social justice for all people, which has always inspired Reform Judaism. We affirm that our faith's ethical values are at the core of our religious commitment and that our worship and celebration must always reflect these ideals.

Our worship embraces an inclusive experience of prayer and celebration. In the historic spirit of Reform Judaism, we are committed to a meaningful, participatory liturgy that appeals to both mind and heart--a primarily English language worship service, enriched by the timeless elements of Hebrew texts and song that link us to our past and to our fellow Jews throughout the world. The distinctive traditions of Reform synagogue worship, including its great repertoire of choral and instrumental music and challenging pulpit teaching, are important priorities for us. We believe that this expression of our faith offers a uniquely meaningful and accessible spiritual option for many Jews today. While preserving the best traditions of Classical Reform, we are also committed to the dynamic development of creative, new expressions of its principles and practice.

We particularly affirm and celebrate the unique experience of Judaism in the United States. Our Hebrew Bible's ideals of liberty and justice have helped shaped American democracy from its earliest beginnings. Inspired by our tradition, and responding to its ethical and social values, Jews have played a vital role in the founding and building of America. We cherish this noble heritage and are committed to the exercise of our rights and responsibilities as proud and loyal citizens of this nation. These obligations include prophetic dissent, expressed in the democratic process, as well as full civic engagement in our society.

We share with all Jews an appreciation of the significance of the State of Israel in the broad context of Jewish history. We join together in the hope for the wellbeing and security of Israel and its people, living in justice and peace with its neighbors. We also embrace the broad diversity of opinion in the Jewish community on the complex political and moral issues reflected in the tragic conflicts in the Middle East today. While as American Jews, our ties to Israel are historical and spiritual, we also affirm that it is Judaism's religious and ethical ideals that are at the core of our Jewish identity and commitment.

We affirm a broad, inclusive pluralism, which reflects the full diversity within today's changing Jewish community and welcome all those who share our ideals. We are particularly committed to an active outreach and warm, unconditional welcome for interfaith and multicultural families, in the belief that the universal spiritual values of Classical Reform are uniquely meaningful and empowering for this ever growing number of our young people.

Our most fervent hopes and prayers are for a strong, creative and spiritually renewed American Jewish community and for freedom and security for Jews everywhere as we fulfill our historic mission of working together with all of God's people to build a world of justice, love and peace.

 

 

Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple." A language of West Semitic origins, culturally considered to be the language of the Jewish people. Ancient or Classical Hebrew is the language of Jewish prayer or study. Modern Hebrew was developed in the late-19th and early 20th centuries as a revival language; today it is spoken by most Israelis.
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