Increased Acceptance of Ritual by Reform Jews is Reported at U.a.e.c. Assembly

A report of increased acceptance by Reform Jewish congregations and their members of ritual practice and ceremonial observance in the synagogue and in the home was made last night by Rabbi Morton M. Berman of Chicago, chairman of the Committee on Reform Practices, at the 41st biennial assembly of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

With more than 90 percent of the 425 Reform congregations surveyed revealing this trend, Rabbi Berman indicated that Liberal Judaism has undertaken “to correct an error” made by early anti-ritualistic leaders who looked upon ceremonials as “trivializing the noble teachings of Judaism.” Innovations introduced by the Reform movement have enriched all branches of Judaism, he reported. The consecration to Judaism on the last day of Sukkoth and the confirmation of Jewish youth on Shavuoth are two of the outstanding innovations in Jewish religious life, he said.

The practice of congregations adopting rituals and ceremonials in acoordance with their individual needs, the report stated, has resulted in an uneven development of ritual practice, which now calls for standardization and codification among congregations.

Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof, of Pittsburgh, chairman of the workshop on Jewish education, reported on recent advances in Jewish religious schools, while Alexander Frieder noted an increase in synagogue attendance and wider participation by members in congregational life. He said this was reflected in greater programming and in greater civic, social and religious activity.

Dr. Nelson Glueck, president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, warned that spiritual rearmament was as necessary to the welfare of America as military preparedness. Dr. Glueck accepted a scroll presented to the College by the U.A.H.C. on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of its establishment.

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