An Introduction to the Sacred Path of Reform Judaism

Feb 4, 2019 by

An Introduction to the Sacred Path of Reform Judaism

The beginning of 2019 has to shoulder much of the heavy heritage of 2018. Growing international and national political conflicts question our former assumptions about the local, religious, national, and international communities we live in­—and their future. The shooting in Pittsburgh is far from forgotten, it’s implications for our identities as American Jews and our sense of the country we live in and love are still unfolding.

This is a time, then, when we can only gain from the thoughtful learning and questioning of our own roots. What are the histories and values we, as Jews in America, have inherited from our forefathers and mothers in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa? How have the political ideas of European Reform Judaism impacted our contemporary ways to live as Reform Jews and Americans? How much of these histories, values, and ideals can nourish as in the current moment; what even may Reform Jewish spirituality be? And, and maybe this is most important, what are we to learn from the current moment? Are we heading into a time of increased fear? Are we singing toward a new sense of spiritual wholeness? Are we re-attuning our moral senses to an evolving Torah of social justice?

Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh (BT Sanhedrin 27b) … We like to translate this sentence as “All of Israel is morally responsible for each other.” Originally, of course, that meant that every Jew was responsible for the halachic lives of other Jews —in front of God—a statement in radical contradiction to our sense and need of autonomy and privacy. Today and in the context of our theology, we can translate this sentence as “All Jews are responsible for the moral and spiritual well-being and conduct of the members of their various communities.”

In line with this sense of the sentence, the CCAR has created a curriculum for our time. This curriculum invites you into the conversation on who we, as Reform Jews, have historically been, who we are right now, and who we might be in the future. It provides opportunities for learning, personal reflection and assessment, and, so we hope, it also provides opportunities to explore Reform Judaism as an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual resource for the future. We want our movement to be a community of members who are invested in each other’s lives, who share a religious vocabulary and conversation, and who envision and build together a brave, informed, and caring future.

Happy New Year!

Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz serves as Editor of the CCAR Press. 

CCAR Press has created a FREE, Movement-wide curriculum on the topic of Reform Judaism in honor of the 130th anniversary of the CCAR and the 200th birthday of Isaac M. Wise. We offer a 3-5 session curriculum, entitled A Life of Meaning: An Introduction To The Sacred Path Of Reform Judaism, An Adult Education Curriculum. This curriculum is anchored in our book A Life of Meaning: Embracing Reform Judaism’s Sacred Path, as well as documents like our Responsa and resolutions.  Please click here to learn more about the curriculum.

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