Throughout history, Jews have remained firmly rooted in Jewish tradition, even as we learned much from our encounters with other cultures. Nevertheless, since its earliest days, Reform Judaism has asserted that a Judaism frozen in time is an heirloom, not a living fountain. The great contribution of Reform Judaism is that it has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt and to bring faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship.
Reform Judaism affirms the central tenets of Judaism – God, Torah and Israel – even as it acknowledges the diversity of Reform Jewish beliefs and practices. We believe that all human beings are created in the image of God, and that we are God’s partners in improving the world. Tikkun olam — repairing the world — is a hallmark of Reform Judaism as we strive to bring peace, freedom and justice to all people.
Reform Jews accept the Torah as the foundation of Jewish life containing God’s ongoing revelation to our people and the record of our people’s ongoing relationship with God. We see the Torah as God inspired, a living document that enables us to confront the timeless and timely challenges of our everyday lives.
In addition to our belief that Judaism must change and adapt to the needs of the day to survive and our firm commitment to tikkun olam, the following principles distinguish Reform Jews from other streams of Judaism in North America.
Reform Jews are committed to the principle of inclusion, not exclusion. Since 1978 the Reform Movement has been reaching out to Jews-by-choice and interfaith families, encouraging them to embrace Judaism. Reform Jews consider children to be Jewish if they are the child of a Jewish father or mother, so long as the child is raised as a Jew.
Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of women in all areas of Jewish life. We were the first movement to ordain women rabbis, invest women cantors and elect women presidents of our synagogues.
Reform Jews are also committed to the full participation of the LGBT community in synagogue life as well as society at large.
Union for Reform Judaism
The synagogue arm of the Reform Movement, founded by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise as the Union for American Hebrew Congregations in 1873.
HUC-JIR – Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
The academic, spiritual and professional development center for Reform Judaism, founded by Rabbi Wise in 1875.
CCAR – Central Conference of American Rabbis
The international rabbinic association of Reform Judaism, founded by Rabbi Wise in 1889.
ACC – the American Conference of Cantors
ARZA – Connecting Reform Jews and Israel
ARZA Canada – The Canadian Association of Reform Zionists
ECERJ – Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism
NATA – National Association of Temple Administrators
NATE – National Association of Temple Educators
MRJ – Men of Reform Judaism (formerly The North American Federation of Temple Brotherhoods) and the Jewish Chautauqua Society
NFTY – the North American Federation of Temple Youth
PARDeS – the Progressive Association of Reform Day Schools
RPB – Reform Pension Board, serving congregations and the Movement’s professionals
WRJ – Women of Reform Judaism
On the world scene, the Reform Movement is allied with organizations that encompass Liberal/Progressive/Reform Judaism on every continent:
WUPJ – World Union for Progressive Judaism
ARZENU – International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists
IMPJ – the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism
IRAC – the Israel Religious Action Center
This is the family of Reform Judaism, in all its diversity and strength, encompassing every age and interest group, while strengthening our synagogues and helping them to serve all who seek to be a part of K’lal Yisrael.