Since the Enlightenment, Jews have sought to understand Judaism as a modern religion in an intellectual context equivalent to Christianity. This shifted the focus of attention away from the ritual commandments to a concern with the universal foundations of the faith. Platforms and Prayer Books analyzes the impact of that shift, presenting new approaches as well as innovative arguments. The essays in this collection express the inherent difficulty of reconciling theory with practice in a liberal religious framework. In addition, they also demonstrate the surprising vitality of a movement that many expected to decline demographically as well as intellectually. Not only is the Reform movement actually increasing in numbers, but, as this book demonstrates, it is also showing an amazing breadth of creativity. Through lively discussions, noted scholars and rabbis trace the evolution of Reform Judaism through discussions on theological and liturgical topics that are grounded in the platforms and prayer books that chart the movement's developments through its 200-year history.
Contributors with perspectives from both within and outside of Reform Judaism evaluate trends and interpret changes that have taken and are taking place, exploring the historical context and contemporary significance of Reform Jewish belief.
Dana Evan Kaplan is the Oppenstein Brothers Assistant Professor of Judaic and Religious Studies in the Department of History and the head of the Danciger Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is the author of Contemporary Debates in American Reform Judaism (2001).
Chapter 1 The Reform Theological Enterprise at Work: Debating Theory and Practice in the American Religious "Marketplace" Part 2 The Historical Context Chapter 3 Platforms and Prayer Books: From Exclusivity to Inclusivity in Reform Judaism Chapter 4 "America Is Different!": Reform Judaism and American Pluralism Chapter 5 Miss Daisy's Planet: The Strange World of Reform Judaism in the United States, 1870-1930 Chapter 6 The Theologian of the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform: Kaufmann Kohler's Vision of Progressive Judaism Chapter 7 Renewing Reform Judaism: From Pittsburgh to Pittsburgh Chapter 8 Our Collective Identity as Reform Jews Part 9 Liturgical Studies Chapter 10 The First Reform Prayer Book in America: The Liturgy of the Reformed Society of Israelites Chapter 11 The Continuity of Change in Jewish Liturgy Chapter 12 Meditation in Progressive Judaism Chapter 13 The Challenge of a Single Prayer Book for the Reform Movement Part 14 Comparative Studies Chapter 15 Challenges to Using the Same Measures of Religiosity for Both Christians and Jews Chapter 16 Two Trains Passing: Reconstructionism and Reform in Twentieth-Century American Judaism Chapter 17 The Return of the Liminal to Reform Judaism Chapter 18 Better the Devil You Know: Reflections on Why Baalot Teshuvah Choose Orthodoxy over Reform Judaism Part 19 Autonomy and Authority in Texts and Law Chapter 20 Reform Judaism and Halacha: Rapprochement? Chapter 21 Building a Postmodern Reform Judaism: The Example of Eugene B. Borowitz Chapter 22 Oral Torah: Reading Jewish Text Jewishly in Reform Judaism Chapter 23 Beyond Autonomy: The Texts and Our Lives Chapter 24 American Reform: Observations from the Margins