The Reform movement rejected its anti-Zionistic beliefs long before the following denominational proclamation was issued in 1997. But, as the preamble states, this is the first platform issued by the major organization of Reform rabbis dedicated exclusively to the question of Israel and Zionism.
Accepted by the Central Conference of American Rabbis
June 24, 1997
In recognition of the centenary of the first World Zionist Congress (August 29, 1897), the Central Conference of American Rabbis hereby issues its first platform dedicated exclusively to the relationship between Reform Judaism and Zionism.
In 1885 the framers of the Pittsburgh Platform of Reform Judaism declared that they no longer expected Jews to return to a national homeland in Palestine. The Platform’s authors proclaimed: “We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and, therefore, expect neither a return to Palestine…nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.”
By 1937 the CCAR had reversed its stand on Jewish peoplehood, and declared in its “Columbus Platform” that “Judaism is the soul of which Israel [the people] is the body.” The document further states: “We affirm the obligation of all Jewry to aid in its [Palestine’s] up-building as a Jewish homeland by endeavoring to make it not only a haven of refuge for the oppressed but also a center of Jewish culture and spiritual life.”
This affirmation of Jewish peoplehood was accompanied by a reaffirmation of Reform Judaism’s universal message: “We regard it as our historic task to cooperate with all men in the establishment of the kingdom of God, of universal brotherhood, justice, truth and peace on earth. This is our Messianic goal.”
The CCAR returned again to the question of Zionism in 1976, asserting in its “Centenary Perspective”: “We are bound to…the newly reborn State of Israel by innumerable religious and ethnic ties….We have both a stake and a responsibility in building the State of Israel, assuring its security and defining its Jewish character.”
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