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The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflectionsby Dana Evan Kaplan
Synopses & Reviews
This is the book that American Jews and particularly American Reform Jews have been waiting for: a clear and informed call for further reform in the Reform movement.
In light of profound demographic, social, and technological developments, it has become increasingly clear that the Reform movement will need to make major changes to meet the needs of a quickly evolving American Jewish population. Younger Americans in particular differ from previous generations in how they relate to organized religion, often preferring to network through virtual groups or gather in informal settings of their own choosing.
Dana Evan Kaplan, an American Reform Jew and pulpit rabbi, argues that rather than focusing on the importance of loyalty to community, Reform Judaism must determine how to engage the individual in a search for existential meaning. It should move us toward a critical scholarly understanding of the Hebrew Bible, that we may emerge with the perspectives required by a postmodern world. Such a Reform Judaism can at once help us understand how the ancient world molded our most cherished religious traditions and guide us in addressing the increasingly complex social problems of our day.
"The stresses that challenge Reform Judaism, America's largest Jewish denomination, are examined by Kaplan, a Reform rabbi and author of three previous books. Now the rabbi of a congregation in Kingston, Jamaica, Kaplan was previously the rabbi of a temple in Albany, Ga. After chapters on the need for a Reform Jewish theology and the history of the Reform movement, Kaplan explores its confrontation with contemporary issues of worship, practice, values, and ethics. He argues for theological clarity — an impossible objective, according to the introduction by Eric H. Yoffie, president emeritus, Union for Reform Judaism. An afterword by current president Rick Jacobs sides with Yoffie, questioning the need for a 'unifying theology.' Kaplan critically considers congregational membership, patrilineal descent, conversion, Humanistic Judaism, Messianic Jews, Jubus (Jews interested in Buddhism), meditation, Jews for Jesus, 'virtual congregations,' creative spirituality, and wilderness Judaism. He concludes by asserting that Reform Judaism is the best form of ethical monotheism." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Dana Evan Kaplan is the rabbi of the United Congregation of Israelites in Kingston, Jamaica, and former rabbi of Temple Band#8217;nai Israel in Albany, Georgia. He is the author of Contemporary American Judaism: Transformation and Renewal, The Cambridge Companion to American Judaism, and American Reform Judaism: An Introduction. Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie isand#160;president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism. Rabbi Rick Jacobs is president of the Union for Reform Judaism.
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