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From Haskalah to Reinterpretation of Tradition: A Crisis in American Reform Judaism in the 21st Century

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the changes in the self-understanding of American Reform Judaism in the second half of the twentieth century and traces them back to the second half of the 19th century. It argues that this change reflects a tension between the Reform Movement's identification with Israel as a nation state, and the ideals of the Enlightenment that have been so important to the movement. This change reflects a crisis within the movement itself, as it seems to reinterpret its traditions based on Enlightenment ideals, including rejecting religiously based views about the state of Israel. The chapter also discusses the founding ideals of the Haskalah and explains the basic conceptions of Reform Judaism. It further analyzes the relationship between the American Reform Movement and Zionism in light of the Reform Movement's re-interpretation of tradition.

Keywords: American Reform Judaism; Diaspora; Haskalah; Israel; Zionism



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