Declaration of Principles by the World Union for Progressive Judaism

The World Union for Progressive Judaism, the international movement of Reform Jews, has released a declaration of principles touching on basic issues that confront Jews in Israel and the diaspora, among them the highly controversial “Who is a Jew” issue, religious pluralism in Israel, compromise for peace and open dialogue with “mutual respect” between Israel and diaspora Jews.

The declaration was developed by a 20-member international committee headed by Prof. Michael Meyer of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. It was unanimously adopted at the 22nd international conference of the World Union in Jerusalem earlier this month and presented to President Chaim Herzog of Israel.

The declaration affirms the centrality of Israel in Jewish life and commits the Reform movement “to an Israeli State based on modern democratic values, recognizing the full equality of women and men, honoring religious diversity among Jews and respecting pluralism among all its citizens.” The declaration deplores “religious coercion” and “fanaticism.”

POSITION ON THE LAW OF RETURN

It asserts that the Reform movement seeks to play a “useful and constructive” role in Israel and strives “for full recognition of our rabbis and our various institutions in Israel.” In that connection, the declaration asserts that “the Law of Return must include in its definitions of who is a Jew, in addition to bom Jews, all those who under rabbinic guidance, whether Orthodox or non-Orthodox, have formally cast their lot with the Jewish people.

“The full acceptance of the increasing number of non-Orthodox converts to Judaism and their children is not only in the highest tradition of historic Jewish values; it is also vital for the Jewish future.”

It also asserts that diaspora Jews “must exercise their social conscience with regard to the major moral issues that concern the nations in which they live and the entire world community.” Among these issues are racial, religious or sexual discrimination, poverty, and war and peace.

The declaration pledges the Reform movement to help ensure Israel’s security and asserts that peace with the Arab world “can only follow when the Arab nations acknowledge Israel’s right to exist” in security. At the same time, it holds that Israel’s security “is best assured by vigorously pursuing every avenue that may lead to reconciliation with its neighbors, even if there must be territorial compromise for the sake of lasting peace.”

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