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American Reform Judaism: An Introduction Paperback – April 9, 2003


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American Reform Judaism: An Introduction + The Reform Judaism Reader: North American Documents + The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflections
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (April 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813532191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813532196
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #931,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A rabbi and a scholar, Kaplan combines his impressive background with diligent research and strong opinions to produce this lively account of Reform Judaism. Starting with history, he traces the roots of this denomination in Germany, but his emphasis is clearly on its development and current status in America. Kaplan examines the theology of Reform Judaism, stressing the do-it-yourself attitude that originally rejected Jewish tradition in favor of serving the needs of contemporary Jews. This approach, known as Classical Reform, has recently given way to increasingly successful efforts to restore traditional beliefs and practices. However, conflicts have arisen, not only with advocates of Classical Reform, but also with the liberal positions held by some leaders of the Reform movement. The latter have embraced ordination of women, acceptance of gays and lesbians and a degree of proselytizing, especially among the non-Jewish spouses in inter-marriages. According to Kaplan, these departures from Reform tradition contradict the simultaneous return to tradition, arguing that "Reform is moving in two directions at the same time." He concludes that "the Reform movement... is going to have to develop a coherent, effective strategy for reconciling autonomy and authority." While Kaplan's presentation focuses on Reform Judaism, his astute reasoning has value for all religious groups that struggle with maintaining their established beliefs in the face of the demands and challenges posed by modernity.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Kaplan's three stated goals are to provide a general introduction to the American Reform movement, describe the social and religious forces that impact Reform Judaism, and argue that Reform Judaism's liberal theology makes it difficult to create the type of committed religious community that can perpetuate that commitment from generation to generation. Beginning with an overview of the Reform movement from its origins in nineteenth-century Europe to today, then outlining its basic beliefs and practices, Kaplan traces the evolution of Reform theology and describes the Reform revolution of the 1990s, the changes in synagogue services, and the struggle for recognition in the State of Israel. Kaplan also chronicles the challenges in Reform Jewish education, the efforts to deal with the problem of intermarriage, the struggle for women's equality, the acceptance of gays and lesbians, and the battle over the movement's future. An expansive examination of the religion. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Dana Evan Kaplan was born in Manhattan and grew up in New York and Connecticut. He holds a PhD in Jewish history from Tel Aviv University and Rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem. Dana has lived and worked in Australia, South Africa, Israel, and the United States. He loves to travel to exotic locales where he scuba dives and hikes.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on April 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
described in the editorial reviews, which means it is a pretty good read for someone who is not very knowledgeable but is probably less useful for readers more familiar with Reform.
One thing that I liked: Kaplan's willingness to note that some of the Reform movement's current problems are identical to those that Reform rabbis were complaining about as early as the 1880s; evidently, there is something about liberal religion that leads to a large but apathetic membership.
One thing that I wish Kaplan had put in: more primary source material - perhaps in the form of an appendix with the text of the Reform platforms, etc. that Kaplan writes about.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. Moffic on April 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
Dana Kaplan has written a phenomenal and unique book that opens up the world of American Reform Judaism. This book is the only one of its kind, and is great resource for Reform Jews and those who might be converting to and interested in learning about Judaism. We are all in debt to Professor Kaplan.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Pein on November 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Rabbi Kaplan has written a very interesting, thoughtful sociological overview of post-World War II American Judaism.

He has interwoven an analysis of well-known historical figures with Jews of the specific time periods, creating a very realistic and thought-provoking account of American Judaism.

I would highly reccommend this book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Saralee Boretz on November 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book provides a readable and comprehensive overview of Reform Judaism's origins, development, and challenges. The Reform movement has changed a lot in the past few decades. For someone trying to understand those changes, this is an outstanding place to start.
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