Reform Judaism Today

Balancing tradition and innovation in the 21st century

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Most of the key political issues that the RAC is involved with concern the separation of church and state, in an era when programs from school vouchers to the so-called "faith-based initiative" seem to be striving to use government money to finance religious educational and social service programs.

Maintaining that Jewish values call for social action but also require a religiously pluralistic society, the RAC is seen as an advocate for the rights of minority religions in a largely Christian society.

Dissonance: Zionism and Left Politics

Zionism, or the support of the state of Israel, is also an interesting issue to watch in the Reform context.  The movement has, especially in recent years, been extremely devoted to Israel, urging young Reform Jews to travel there with youth groups and offering synagogue programs on the nation’s history and culture as well as sponsoring trips to Israel for adults and families.

Some scholars observe the tension between this pro-Israel sentiment and the left-leaning political legacy of the movement, which always supported Israel but often advocates for peace with Palestinians through a two-state solution.

The coming years will be crucial for the Reform movement, as it seeks to balance "classical" and "contemporary" traditions, supply and demand for Reform professionals, outreach and conversion, and Jewish and leftist politics in this period of growth and transition.

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Holly Lebowitz Rossi

Holly Lebowitz Rossi is a freelance writer who lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.