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Classical Reform Judaism

Classical Reform Judaism or Classical Reform Revival is a movement within Judaism which is committed to the preservation of the historical new approach and identity of Judaism adopted by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) in 1885 at the Pittsburgh Platform.[1]

Classical Reform adherents see Judaism as a religious faith with a universal message for all people, not only for a single chosen one. Unlike Mainstream Reform Judaism, followers of the Classical Reform Judaism movement believe that Judaism is primarily a universal religious faith, rather than an ethnic, cultural or nationalist identity.[2]

"Classical Reform Judaism" is the historic phase of Reform Jewish History (a philosophy, worship style, and synagogue culture from which the mainstream has largely retreated) and is distinguished from "Classical Reform Judaism" as a living, dynamic expression today. The modern movement to revive Classical Reform is not an effort to resurrect something identical to the historic expression, but rather to preserve and creatively renew it for the present time. Some prefer the appellation "Neo-Classical Reform" to refer to present revivalist efforts, but the principal individuals and organizations involved in the revival do not utilize that term, as they feel that it undermines the Jewish authenticity of the more "purist" traditions of Classical Reform. Some are concerned that the word "classical" is itself problematic, as it connotes a historic phase which has ended. In general, though, Classical Reform adherents are united by a belief that certain developments in Reform Judaism and Progressive Judaism in general over the past half century, such as a re-traditionalization of synagogue worship and personal and communal observance, are unfortunate and detrimental to the progress of Judaism. The decreasing use of Vernacular Liturgy in favor of Liturgical Hebrew is one example of this "re-traditionalization".

The Society for Classical Reform Judaism was formed in 2008 by a diverse group of rabbis and lay leaders as a national voice of advocacy for the historic liberal spiritual ideals and the distinctive worship traditions of Classical Reform Judaism, as part of North American Reform Judaism.[3] Rabbi Howard A. Berman has been the society's executive director since its formation.


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