Reform Judaism & Halakhah

Seeking guidance from the Jewish legal tradition, without a belief in its binding nature?especially in light of contemporary moral sensitivies.

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Yet while we should innovate carefully and respectfully, and while we should not abandon the standards of traditional practice without good reason, our responsa will not say "no" to new ideas merely because they are new or because they depart from familiar forms of practice.

4. Finally, while our responsa seek to uphold traditional halakhic approaches whenever fitting, we reserve to ourselves the right to decide when they do not fit. When even the most liberal interpretations of the texts and sources yield answers that conflict with our moral and religious commitments as liberal Jews, we will modify or reject those interpretations in favor of others that better reflect our religious mind and heart.

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Rabbi Mark Washofsky

Rabbi Mark Washofsky, Ph.D., is associate professor of rabbinics at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, and serves as chair of the Responsa Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.