Magazine article Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought

Judaism and the Future of Religion in America: A Symposium in Response to Dana Evan Kaplan's American Reform Judaism

Magazine article Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought

Judaism and the Future of Religion in America: A Symposium in Response to Dana Evan Kaplan's American Reform Judaism

Article excerpt

DANA EVAN KAPLAN'S BOOK PRESENTS A CONTROVERSIAL portrait of the contemporary American Reform movement. As editor of JUDAISM, I asked leaders of the various American Jewish religious streams to comment on his book, as a means of focusing a general discussion about the condition of Reform Judaism today. Since much of American Judaism is mirrored in the Reform movement, Dana Kaplan's book thus offers us the opportunity to begin an assessment of the religious developments of recent decades.

Kaplan portrays the Reform movement as dynamic and growing and simultaneously deeply divided and internally inconsistent. He argues that the Reform movement needs to develop and articulate a coherent theology and increase the religious demands it places on its adherents. He notes that American Reform Judaism has had a bold vision for the renewal of Judaism. There have been radical innovations, among them the acceptance of Jewishness by patrilineal descent, outreach to intermarried couples, full ritual participation for women, gay and lesbian marriage, a lobbying effort to gain formal recognition for the Reform movement in the State of Israel, and a campaign to restructure and re-orient synagogue worship practice. …

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