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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q18.2.2 TOC Q18.2.4 >

Question 18.2.3:
History: I've heard reference to "Classic German Reform". What is it?


When Reform started, many of its leaders took a very "rejectionist" view of practice. Many traditional practices were decried as "barbaric", and many other practices were discarded. This "early form" of Reform had some of the following characteristics:

(Note that almost all of the items in the above list are not reflective of Reform thought today.)

In 1885 the Reform movement held its Pittsburg Conference, which produced the original platform of Reform Judaism. This platform, called the 1855 Pittsburgh Platform (, is still followed by a few congregations today. This platform dismisses "such Mosaic and rabbinical laws as regulate diet, priestly purity and dress" as anachronisms that only obstruct spirituality in the modern age, and stressed that Reform Jews must only be accepting of laws that they feel "elevate and sanctify our lives" and must reject those customs and laws that "not adapted to the views and habits of modern civilization." In the decades following these events, a reevaluation took place in which many members of the Reform movement began to question the "reforms" that were made. This is indicative how the movement operates, and why it is called "Reform" and not "Reformed"--because the process of reform is a continual one. Starting with the Columbus Platform (, many of the discarded practices were reincorporated into Reform, and consistute what is now called "Modern" Reform Judaism, or more succinctly, Reform Judaism.

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 <>