Reform Judaism

The Temple is a member of the Union for Reform Judaism, formerly known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. There is a great history to Reform Judaism, as well as some misconceptions. Our commitment to the principles of Reform Jewish practice remains steadfast, and we encourage anyone who has questions about the differences in Jewish identification to contact us at 404.873.1731.

The History of Reform Judaism


The Union for Reform Judaism was founded in 1873, and from its initial membership of 34 congregations, it has grown to more than 900 synagogues. As the largest Jewish movement in North America, it represents an estimated 1.5 million Jews. The impetus for the founding of the movement was the need for a seminary to train American rabbis. Hebrew Union College was founded within two years of the movement itself, and the first graduating class was ordained in 1883.


Two years later, Reform rabbis met to adopt the Pittsburgh Platform, which outlined the guiding principles of the Reform movement. Four years later, they founded the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which issues non-binding rabbinic opinions on all aspects of Jewish law.

By the middle of the 20th century, the Union had expanded dramatically in the scope of its work to support Reform congregations. Their headquarters was moved to New York in 1951. Two major shifts that followed included a deeper engagement with social justice, which ultimately led to the formation of the Religious Action Center in 1961. The Union also purchased its first camp in the 1950s, leading to a major expansion of the Jewish youth camp movement.


The full history of Reform Judaism is a long and nuanced tale. We encourage you to read the official history on the website of the Union for Reform Judaism. Members of The Temple can avail themselves of a number of books on the subject in our Library & Media Center, and any of our clergy can suggest further resources.

 

 

1589 Peachtree Street NE | Atlanta, GA 30309 | t 404-873-1731 | A Reform Synagogue | Affiliated with The Union for Reform Judaism