The New Reform Judaism: Chal­lenges and Reflections

Dana Evan Kaplan
  • Review
By – January 15, 2014

Reform Judaism is fac­ing major chal­lenges. The rate of affil­i­a­tion with syn­a­gogues is falling. Younger peo­ple are seek­ing more mean­ing­ful spir­i­tu­al con­nec­tions in small­er groups, net­works, and even online. Rab­bi Kaplan exam­ines these issues, pro­vid­ing a his­to­ry of the Reform denom­i­na­tion as a start­ing point. He dis­cuss­es the ques­tions of obser­vance, val­ues and ethics, who is con­sid­ered a Jew, and spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. He offers ideas for reform­ing Reform Judaism to make it more rel­e­vant for today’s young peo­ple. These include pro­vid­ing a more per­son­al expe­ri­ence rather than focus­ing on loy­al­ty to a congrega­tion, encour­ag­ing eth­i­cal behav­ior, and Torah study to rein­force basic Jew­ish val­ues. The book includes a time­line of sig­nif­i­cant events in the devel­op­ment of Reform Judaism, a glos­sary, and notes for fur­ther ref­er­ence. It is a use­ful resource for cler­gy as well as for syn­a­gogue and aca­d­e­m­ic libraries.

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

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