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Rituals and Worship

Sacred Time

Most Reform congregations celebrate the Sabbath with a major service on Friday evening rather than Saturday morning. Reform does not demand adherence to the rigorous rabbinic prohibitions against labor on the Sabbath and biblical festivals.

Sacred Space

Since the foundation of the New Temple Association, Reform synagogues have featured radical changes to Jewish worship, such as organ music and the use of clerical gowns by rabbi and cantor. The architecture of the early Reform Temples deliberately emulated that of Catholic cathedrals, while their interiors were often modeled after those of Lutheran churches.

Rites and Ceremonies

Except for circumcision, which was hotly debated among the founders of the Reform Movement but finally maintained, Reform Judaism initially dispensed with almost all traditional Jewish rituals. Today, however, many have been re-claimed though they have not been established as mandatory and binding on all Reform Jews.

Worship and Devotion in Dialy Life

The traditional Hebrew liturgy of the Sabbath services was drastically shortened and rendered almost entirely into non-Jewish vernaculars, and all references to the Jewish hope for a return to Zion were eliminated. Reform congregations do not hold daily services, and most Reform Jews limit their practice of Judaism to the Sabbath and major festivals.


The Reform movement has never had any distinctive symbols unique to its synagogues. It shares with the more traditional branches of Judaism the display of popular Jewish symbols such as the Star of David and the Tablets of the Ten Commandments