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Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism Paperback – April 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In attempting to make Jewish observance more comprehensible and meaningful to modern adherents, the Reform branch of Judaism needed to devise a system of ritual and thought flexible enough to survive a fragmented, secularized world. Meyer, professor of Jewish history at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, traces the origins of the Reform movement to changes in temple services in Hamburg and Berlin in the early 1800s. In Europe, Reform had to contend not only with conservative Christians, who sided with Jewish traditionalists, but also with governmental intrusion into Jewish religious affairs. But, in the United States, the Reform movement found fertile soil, spreading rapidly after a dozen men in 1825 launched the Reformed Society of Israelites in Charleston, S.C. This dry, scholarly history follows the rabbinical rivalries, ideological polemics and innovations that have marked Reform Judaism. First serial to Reform Judaism.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Meyer, author of works on the religious and intellectual history of contemporary Jews, here presents a lucid and thorough history of the Reform movement in Judaism. After analyzing the precedents for reform, he shows how the movement developed slowly in late 18th- and early 19th-century Germany, then moves on to Europe, the United States, and such relatively unexplored areas as Eastern Europe and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The author lucidly describes the philosophies and motivations of the reformers, the relationship between Reform and Orthodoxy, and Judaism's context within the Christian world. For all collections with an interest in religion.Maurice Tuchman, Hebrew Coll. Lib., Brookline, Mass.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 494 pages
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814325556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814325551
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "jrw38" on December 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a committed Progressive Jew who fluctuates between Reform and Reconstructionist affiliation, I was glad to stumble upon Michael Meyer's excellent history of the Reform Movement. Meyer traces the development of Reform from the early years in Hamburg and Berlin to recent decisions made the Central Conference of American Rabbis. In so doing, he explodes a number of horrific myths that Orthodox "Judaism" lobs at Reform: that significant numbers of Reform congregations shifted their main day of worship to Sunday; that the movement is simply "watered down" Judaism; that Reform Jews are simply "lapsed" Jews who would be Orthodox if they didn't find it difficult or knew more about Judaism. Meyer also shows that, just as there are and have been important movements and currents within "Orthodoxy", there were and are many different movements and currents within Reform. The discussions of the movement's growth and foment on German soil, and the transfer of that foment to the United States, are particularly enlightening.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Professor Meyer's history of Reform Judaism is so rich, comprehensive, and lucid, that I cannot imagine that it has much serious competition as the best single-volume treatment of the subject. Highly recommended for those interested in gaining literacy on the topic, or much insight into the creation of a modern religion. Enthusiastically endorsed!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mordecai ben-Ami on March 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Michael Meyer's clear-eyed history of the Reform (a.k.a. 'Progressive') movement should be read by anyone who wants to understand the current fragmented condition of modern Jewry. Meyer makes eminently clear that it is the Reformers who departed from the traditional faith of Judaism and thereby founded a new religion at odds with (what they came to call) Orthodoxy. (Meyer himself is clearly favourable toward this approach, but he is at least unblinkingly honest about it.) Anyone affiliated with Reform or Progressive 'Judaism' who has not read Meyer's careful and thorough historical exposition probably does not understand the real foundations of his or her own movement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steve Fisch on February 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In Dr. Meyer's usual manner, he encapsulates the history of the Reform Jewish movement from its beginnings in Europe through its triumphs and struggles in modern America. For anyone who wants a thorough and accurate history of Reform, including fun and useful anecdotes on its leaders, this book is essential.
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Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism
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