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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q18.1.4 TOC Q18.1.6 >

Question 18.1.5:
How is Reform Judaism structured in the rest of the world?


The world organization for Reform Judaism is the World Union for Progressive Judaism (, which is headquartered in Jerusalem. Outside of North America, Reform is also known as "Progressive" or "Liberal" Judaism. A list of all the affiliates of the WUPJ may be found at; this list includes members from Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, UK, Former Soviet Union, Belarus, Georgia, Estonia, Ukraine, Russia, Israel, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Paregoric, Dominican Republic, Saint Maarten, St. Thomas, USA, Canada, and South Africa.

The confusion about the terms "Reform" or "Liberal" comes from a split in England's Reform movement. In 1842 the English Reform movement split into two factions, one of which was more traditional, while the other was more liberal. The more traditional Reform Judaism faction called themselves simply 'Reform'. Their prayer services are much more traditional than the faction that split off, and their laity is in general more observant than the other faction. Thus their prayer services are much like American Conservative shuls and English Masorti shuls, but they still are what we Americans call Reform (i.e. Classical halakha is not considered binding by its rabbinate or laity.) The more liberal Reform Judaism faction seceded, and renamed their movement as "Liberal Judaism". They are more in the mode of Classic German Reform. They generally have less Hebrew in their services, and are less observant.

Progressive Jewish congregations are to be found throughout the Jewish world, from Europe to Asia, from South America to India and from Africa to Australasia. In Israel, in addition to urban congregations, there are also two Progressive kibbutzim and a Progressive village settlement.

Where appropriate there are regional umbrella organizations such as the Australian and New Zealand Union for Progressive Judaism (; the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany, Austria and Switzerland; Union of Liberal Jewish Congregations in the Netherlands (, etc. The following are some specific regional notes:

The WUPJ is a constitutent of the World Zionist Organization, and the political Zionist arm of Progressive Judaism--ARTZENU--has active constituents in most contries.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <>