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Origins



Beginnings

The Reform movement originated in Germany in the early 19th century with the goal of adapting Jewish religious practice and theology to contemporary western European culture, largely by eliminating almost all of the ritualistic and nationalist elements of classical Judaism.

Influences

The early reformers, inspired by the ideals of the western European Enlightenment and the emancipation of the Jews of France, aspired to adapt Judaism in such a way as to facilitate the integration of the Jews into the surrounding gentile society, without their conversion to Christianity.

Founders

The founders of Reform Judaism were liberal rabbis and Jewish historians, most importantly Abraham Geiger, whose goal was to preserve the core moral teachings of the biblical prophets while eliminating all rituals that betray the tribal and ethnic aspects of rabbinical Judaism.

Sacred Texts

While respecting the Torah as an inspired, but not divinely authored, foundational text of Judaism, Reform rejected the binding nature of its laws, along with the authority of the Talmud and later rabbinical codes. Reform regards the Torah in humanistic historical terms, as the record of the Jewish people's quest for God and holiness.

Historical Perspectives

The initial excision of many central Jewish rituals and prayers, especially those that set the Jews apart as a nation, was over time reversed, as the Reform movement embraced Zionism and assumed a positive attitude to the optional practice of many ancient Jewish customs and traditions.

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