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Conference on Reform Judaism Recommends Formulation of Guide on Jewish Ceremonials

March 24, 1950
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A three-day Institute on Reform Jewish Theology concluded here last night with a recommondation that the Central Conference of American Rabbis should formulate a guide for ceremonial practices in Reform Judaism. Only two of the participating 74 rabbis and educators voted against the recommendation.

The Institute also adopted a statement on the “Mission of Israel” which said that Jews who are not affiliated with any synagogue must be won back to positive participation in Jewish religious life. The statement also urges the return to Jewish religious life of “those who have roamed away from traditional Judaism and who are groping for an expression of religion more congenial to their modern outlook.”

The statement recommends bringing “our own concept of Judaism to those Jews who live in non-progressive, religiously static areas of this world.” It urges assistance to Reform or Progressive congregations that are struggling to achieve self-sufficiency, as well as aid in the creation of such congregations wherever the need for them is expressed.

“The resuscitated state of Israel, whose spiritual potentialities seem unlimited, presents an important challenge and unique opportunity to Reform Judaism,” the statement says. “As touching the world in general, our mission has been to some extent fulfilled in the acceptance by Christianity and Mohammedanism of our Hebrew Bible.

“However, the practical fulfillment of our mission requires, firstly, a recognition that we have been derelict in our devotion to our mission; and secondly, a resolve that we implement the ideals of our faith by supporting every positive and progressive endeavor seeking to establish social justice, in cooperation with all men of good-will; and thirdly, to promote within the congregations of Israel projects of social justice and social service among the despised and rejected, regardless of race or creed.”

In deciding upon the desirability of “codification” of the ceremonies, practices and legislation of Reform Judaism, the Institute emphasized that the code will implement the “Columbus platform” adopted by the Central Conference of American Rabbis in 1937. This platform said: “Judaism as a way of life requires, in addition to its moral and spiritual demands, the preservation of the Sabbath, festivals and Holy Days, and the retention and development of such customs, symbols and ceremonials as possess inspirational value.”

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