Platforms and Prayer Books: Theological and Liturgical Perspectives on Reform Judaism / Edition 1

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Since the Enlightenment, Jews have sought to understand Judaism as a modern religion in an intellectual context equivalent to Christianity. This shifted the focus of attention away from the ritual commandments to a concern with the universal foundations of the faith. Platforms and Prayer Books analyzes the impact of that shift, presenting new approaches as well as innovative arguments. The essays in this collection express the inherent difficulty of reconciling theory with practice in a liberal religious framework. In addition, they also demonstrate the surprising vitality of a movement that many expected to decline demographically as well as intellectually. Not only is the Reform movement actually increasing in numbers, but, as this book demonstrates, it is also showing an amazing breadth of creativity. Through lively discussions, noted scholars and rabbis trace the evolution of Reform Judaism through discussions on theological and liturgical topics that are grounded in the platforms and prayer books that chart the movement's developments through its 200-year history. Contributors with perspectives from both within and outside of Reform Judaism evaluate trends and interpret changes that have taken and are taking place, exploring the historical context and contemporary significance of Reform Jewish belief.

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Editorial Reviews

The volume as a whole documents important elements of Reform Jewish thought at the end of the 20th century, and as such should be read by students of this movement or of American religion more generally. Recommended.
The volume as a whole documents important elements of Reform Jewish thought at the end of the 20th century, and as such should be read by students of this movement or of American religion more generally. Recommended.
Rabbi David Ellenson
Platforms and Prayer Books constitutes required reading for anyone interested in the history, contemporary nature, and future directions of Reform Judaism. This is a comprehensive work, and Dana Kaplan has succeeded in gathering an authoritative body of essays written by a wide range of academics and rabbis that illuminates American Reform Judaism. All who are interested in this subject are in his debt.
Robert M.Seltzer
These serious, thoughtful, well-researched pieces add up to a multifaceted portrait of a denomination that represents Judaism's longest-lasting confrontation with modernity.
Deborah Dash Moore
A lively and varied collection of essays from insiders and outsiders, Platforms and Prayer Books explores often uncharted territory. Of particular note are the comparative accounts that situate Reform Judaism in dialogue with other Jewish religious movements. Dana Kaplan's choice of articles is sure to provoke enthusiasm and controversy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742515482
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Dana Evan Kaplan is the Oppenstein Brothers Assistant Professor of Judaic and Religious Studies in the Department of History and the head of the Danciger Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is the author of Contemporary Debates in American Reform Judaism (2001).

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Table of Contents

1 The Reform Theological Enterprise at Work: Debating Theory and Practice in the American Religious "Marketplace" 1
Pt. I The Historical Context
2 Platforms and Prayer Books: From Exclusivity to Inclusivity in Reform Judaism 25
3 "America is Different!": Reform Judaism and American Pluralism 41
4 Miss Daisy's Planet: The Strange World of Reform Judaism in the United States, 1870-1930 49
5 The Theologian of the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform: Kaufmann Kohler's Vision of Progressive Judaism 61
6 Renewing Reform Judaism: From Pittsburgh to Pittsburgh 81
7 Our Collective Identity as Reform Jews 93
Pt. II Liturgical Studies
8 The First Reform Prayer Book in America: The Liturgy of the Reformed Society of Israelites 99
9 The Continuity of Change in Jewish Liturgy 119
10 Meditation in Progressive Judaism 129
11 The Challenge of a Single Prayer Book for the Reform Movement 155
Pt. III Comparative Studies
12 Challenges to Using the Same Measures of Religiosity for Both Christians and Jews 173
13 Two Trains Passing: Reconstructionism and Reform in Twentieth-Century American Judaism 183
14 The Return of the Liminal to Reform Judaism 207
15 Better the Devil You Know ... and Other Contemporary Identity Narratives: Comparing Orthodox to Reform Judaism 221
Pt. IV Autonomy and Authority in Texts
16 Reform Judaism and Halacha: A Rapprochement? 233
17 Building a Postmodern Reform Judaism: The Example of Eugene B. Borowitz 247
18 Oral Torah: Reading Jewish Texts Jewishly in Reform Judaism 261
19 Beyond Autonomy: The Texts and Our Lives 271
20 American Reform: Observations from the Margin 285
Index 297
About the Contributors 313
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