…what do I mean?
David, could you elaborate a little more regarding the Reform intellectual community. What is it exactly and how does it stand apart (or not) from the rest of the Reform world?
Good question, ML. I’m glad you asked. I’ll answer it with a series of definitions, building up to a definition of the Reform intellectual community. In this post, I will attempt the lofty goal of defining four things: the Reform movement, Reform Judaism, Reform Jews and the Reform intellectual community.
The Reform movement is a collection of organizations devoted to building and supporting Reform communities, projects and concerns. This includes the Union for Reform Judaism, the organization made up of Reform synagogues in North America; the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the professional organization for Reform rabbis in North America; the Religious Action Center, a DC-based political lobby that works on initiatives that the URJ has officially supported; Hebrew Union College, the four-campus institution devoted to training professional Reform leaders, including rabbis, cantors and educators. To be sure, there are institutions that also comprise what I call the Reform movement outside of North America, such as the World Union for Progressive Judaism and Leo Baeck College, but I am most familiar with their North American counterparts, so I tend to focus on those.
Reform Judaism, however, is not the same thing as the Reform movement and much harder to define. I’m gonna make a stab at defining it, knowing full well what kind of bone-picking will commence in the comments. Continue reading