Reform Judaism is the oldest Jewish-religious movement in the modern world. Out of it grew—in reaction to it—Orthodox Judaism, on the one hand, and Conservative Judaism, on the other. In the United States the Reform Movement is the majority group, and its membership is vast. But despite its importance and size, this movement has attracted little attention from researchers, and that is puzzling. This research lacuna is even greater in Hebrew research, and this collection of articles aims to fill it a bit.
Reform Judaism today is very different from what its founders envisioned; over the years it has undergone many changes, including important changes of direction. Reform Judaism: Thought, Culture and Sociology traces these changes and examines the cultural and social influences that provide a context for them and help clarify them. The articles present to the Hebrew reader the deliberations and burning issues that are of great concern to broad swaths of the Jewish world in our time. For example, the book deals with the transition from the modern discourse to the postmodern discourse; the development within the movement in the definition of such concepts as Halacha and Zionism; the changes in the status of women in the movement; the intramovement dispute over the new definition of the concepts of family, coupledom, the Jewish people, and the Jewish community; and the movement’s relation to intermarriage.
Leading scholars and intellectuals in the field—both senior and junior—took part in producing the book. It is hoped that it will make a significant contribution to promoting research and study of the theological-religious, social, and cultural foundations of Reform Judaism, and to improving and deepening the educational-cultural discussion of the future of Judaism in the United States, a topic of current concern for the Jewish people.