January 19, 2007

More on "Reform" Judaism

Anonymous posted:

"Your xenophobia against Reform Jews in Israel and your disdain for Reform Jews and Reform Judaism is disgusting."

The definition of xenophobia is: "an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange."

Hmmmm, maybe he/she is correct.

"Reform" Judaism is strange and foreign to Torah observance. It does not adhere to the basic principals and rules of the religion, therefore it is not "of" the religion. Christianity is closer to Judaism than "reform" in that the believe in G-d and the Torah as being from Him.

From Simpletoremember.com:

"The second-oldest extant Jewish movement is Reform. The grandfather of Reform was Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). Although Mendelssohn never publicly rejected the Torah’s or the oral tradition’s Divine origin, perhaps portentously, four out of six of Mendelssohn’s surviving children converted to Christianity.[6] In a parallel event, one of Mendelssohn’s greatest students, David Friedlander (1765-1834), wrote to Pastor Teller, Counsellor of the Prussian Ministry of Religion, on behalf of himself and several other Jewish householders, offering to join the Lutheran Church. Only after Pastor Teller rejected Friedlander’s request for conversion did this student of Mendelssohn set himself to the task of reforming his own religion.[7]

What Mendelssohn hesitated to say publicly about Mesorah, Abraham Geiger (1810-1874), the most influential of Reform’s second generation, boldly proclaimed. In 1837, Geiger called the first Reform rabbinical conference in Wiesbaden, Germany, and declared: “The Talmud must go, the Bible, that collection of mostly so beautiful and exalted human books, as a divine work must also go.”[8] With this declaration, Reform became the first known group in more than 3,100 years of Jewish history to deny the Torah’s divine origin.[9] The Reform rejected the Mesorah.

Shortly after Geiger organized German Reform, his American counterpart, Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900) launched the movement in the New World. In an 1850 debate at the Charleston synagogue, he declared that he didn’t believe in a personal messiah or in bodily resurrection[10], both of which were pillars of the Jewish oral tradition.[11] In 1857, Wise published a new prayerbook which omitted the traditional prayers for a return to Zion, the rebuilding of the Temple, etc., paving the way for Reform’s official declaration of anti-Zionism in the Pittsburgh Platform of 1885.[12] Wise went on to found the Reform seminary, Hebrew Union College; and at their first graduation ceremony in 1883, Wise served “Little Neck Clams, Fillet de Boef, Salade de Shrimps, Grenouiles (frogs legs) a la Creme, and Ice Cream.”[13]

In mid-November, 1885, Dr. Kaufman Kohler convened the Pittsburgh conference of Reform leaders, hoping to formally establish official Reform positions on a range of subjects. Kohler attempted to set the conference’s tone and direction with statements like, “We consider their [the Holy scripture’s] composition, their arrangements and their entire contents as the work of men, betraying in their conceptions of the world shortcomings of their age;”[14] and “We must discard the idea as altogether foreign to us, that marriage with a Gentile is not legal.”[15] In his opening statement to the conference, Kohler told the assembly:

I do not for a moment hesitate to say it right here and in the face of the entire Jewish world that… circumcision is a barbarous cruelty which disfigures and disgraces our ancestral heirloom and our holy mission as priests among mankind. The rite is a national remnant of savage African life… Nor should children born of intermarriage be viewed any longer exclusively by the primitive national standard which determines the racial character of the child only by the blood of the mother… I can no longer accept the fanciful and twisted syllogisms of Talmudic law as binding for us… I think, if anywhere, here we ought to have the courage to emancipate ourselves from the thralldom of Rabbinical legality.[16]

With few modifications, the conference unanimously adopted Dr. Kohler’s proposed Pittsburg Platform. The Reform movement thus accepted “as binding only the moral laws” of Judaism, rejecting, “all such as not adapted to the views and habits of modern civilization.” The Platform swept away Jewish dietary laws because “they fail to impress the modern Jew.” Kohler was then selected to be President of the Hebrew Union College, and a year later he declared, “There is no justification whatsoever for… the most precious time of the student to be spent upon Halakhic discussions… [and] the inane discussions that fill so many pages of the Babylonian Gemarah.”[17] Under Kohler, the HUC preparatory department required no Talmud study, although students were asked to take courses in New Testament and Koran.[18] Kohler referred to Reform Jewry as “We who are no longer bound to the Shulhan Aruk.” [19] Within Reform circles, the Mesorah was then not only lost; it was anathema.

By 1972, Reform had drifted to the extreme. A survey commissioned that year by the Central Conference of American [Reform] Rabbis, reported that “Only one in ten [Reform] rabbis states that he believes in G-d ‘in the more or less traditional Jewish sense.’”[20] The remaining ninety-percent classified their faith with terms like: “Agnostic;” “Atheist;” “Bahai in spirit, Judaic in practice;” “Polydoxist;” “Religious Existentialist;” and “Theological Humanist.”[21] During the 1990 Central Conference of American [Reform] Rabbis’ debate on the ordination of professed homosexuals, an HUC professor reminded the committee that Leviticus 18 calls homosexual acts an abomination; but a member of the majority easily disposed of his objection, saying, “It’s pretty late in the day for scripture to be invoked in CCAR debates.”[22] The same year, about 25 percent of Reform leaders under age 40 had married gentiles.[23] By 1991, the overall intermarriage rate among Reform Jews had topped 60 percent.[24]"

[6] Alexander Altmann, Moses Mendelssohn: A Biographical Study (University of Alabama Press:1973), pp.4-5, 98.
[7] David Rudavsky, Modern Jewish Religious Movements: A History of Emancipation and Adjustment (New York: Behrman House, Inc., 1967), pp. 156-7.
[8] Michael A. Meyer, Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), p.91.
[9] Even the Sadducees, Karaites, and Christians professed belief in the Torah’s Divine origin; they only rejected the Orthodox oral tradition.
[10] David Rudavsky, Modern Jewish Religious Movements: A History of Emancipation and Adjustment (New York: Behrman House, Inc., 1967), p. 288.
[11] Maimonides’ introduction to Perek Chelek (Tractate Sanhedrin), Foundations #12 and #13.
[12] While the historical mainstream clung tightly to the dream of a return to Zion for 2,000 years of exile, the fifth item in the Pittsburgh Platform declares, “We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.” The movement softened its position in its 1937 Columbus Platform, but still feared offering enthusiastic encouragement to return from the Diaspora: “In all lands where our people live, they assume and seek to share loyally the full duties and responsibilities of citizenship… [yet] in the rehabilitation of Palestine we behold the promise of renewed life for many of our brethren.” In its 1976 San Francisco Platform, the Reform movement echoed this limited Zionism, “We encourage aliyah for those who wish to find maximum personal fulfillment in the cause of Zion,” immediately adding, “We demand that Reform Judaism be unconditionally legitimized in the State of Israel.”
[13] See John J. Appel, “The Trefa Banquet,” Commentary, February 1966, pp.75-78.
[14] Walter Jacob, ed., The Pittsburgh Platform in Retrospect: The Changing World of Reform Judaism, (Pittsburgh: Rodef Shalom Congregation Press, 1985), p.104.
[15] Ibid., p. 112.
[16] Ibid., p.101.
[17] Jack Wertheimer, ed., Tradition Renewed: A History of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, volume 2, (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1997), p. 550.
[18] Tradition Renewed, volume 2, p. 551.
[19] Ibid., p. 550.
[20] Theodore I. Lenin and Associates, Rabbi and Synagogue in Reform Judaism, (West Harford: Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1972), pp. 98-99.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Milton Himmelfarb, “What Do American Jews Believe” symposium, Commentary, August 1996, p. 35.
[23] Elliot Abrams, Faith or Fear, (New York: Free Press, 1997), p. 108.
[24] Egon Mayer, “Jewish Continuity in An Age of Intermarriage,” in Symposium on Intermarriage and Jewish Continuity, volume 1, Council of Jewish Federations General Assembly, Baltimore, MD, November 21, 1991.


It's Shailah and Teshuva time folks:

Do I need to keep kosher? Nope.

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