Question for Reform Jews?

Hi, I posted a while back on "9 questions I have for Jewish people", but I was wondering about Reformed Judaism. This is all I know about it, but is this right? It says that "SOME" believe in hell (as a state of consciousness), but everywhere I look I hear that no Jew regardless of their sect believes in ANY type of hell. So Hitler is in heaven? Really? I couldn't imagine that. If someone could clear this up for me that would be great!

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    The link I provide below is from a Conservative Rabbi who was raised in a Reform household. It speaks for all of basic Jewish belief. Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, his page is the most succinct I can think of to help you understand from a non-Jewish perspective the difference in beliefs of Christians and Jews on various aspects of faith.

    As to Reform Judaism ( we don't call it Reformed) try the links below that for the home page of the Reform Judaism movement in the U.S. and for statements of beliefs in Reform Judaism.

    Note to reb Yosh above When Jews say that hell has no part of Jewish belief they're right, the common vernacular and CHRISTIAN concept of hell is foreign to Judaism. I learned as a Reform Jew of the differences in the notions and they are vast...the Jewish notion of Gehennom is foreign to the Christian way of looking at "hell". Just as the word messiah has a very different meaning to a Jew than it does to a Christian, so does their concept the possibility of eternal punishment in the afterworld because you didn't believe the "right" way..and what you state as the Jewish belief of the details of Gehennom is also not widely accepted even among the majority of Orthodox. I doubt you'll have a problem with what Rabbi Federow says at that link, either.

    Edit to note to Concept Style..I don't see anything wrong with the link you provided about what is acceptable in Reform Jewish belief as there is a bit of a range. I think a better place to discover and explore what Reform Judaism is about is to go to the Reform Jewish sites. :)

    Adding a page to see what Reform Jews believe in general

    And while Wikipedia is often a source of misinformation, so far in my reading of this article I don't find any bones to pick on the explanation of beliefs of Judaism and comparison of various branches here, this may help!

    AT this wikipedia article I found this passage that spoke to my faith personally : " Judaism has always considered "Tikkun Olam" (or Perfecting the world) as a fundamental reason for God's creating the world. Therefore, the concept of "life after death" in the Jewish view, while considered the eventual eternal reward or punishment for all, is not encouraged as the sole motivating factor in performance of Judaism. Indeed it is held that one can attain closeness to God even in this world through moral and spiritual perfection."

    That is a very deep thread in Reform Judaism, Tikkun Olam is the tie that I feel deepest connection with in my life and I think helps explain why Jews are so overrepresented percentage to population wise as well in professions that help to make the world a better place for all. :) ( doctors, nurses, researchers, civil-rights workers, etc)

    also..the Christian concept of hell eerily resmbles the place described in the Mythos of Er found in Plato's book, Republic ( if you want to discover yourself how much it matches it's toward the back of his work)

    One LAST edit..Lack of belief in an eternal firey torture chamber underworld hell ruled by a demi-god devil does not mean that a reward of heaven is default. I hope at least that much will be clear after reading all these links..even if a unified view of the afterlife in Jewish belief may not be.

    Shalom y'all :)

    Source(s): Raised in a Reform Jewish home, my father was raised Orthodox, my mother was raised Reform..they both practiced Reform Judaism their whole adult lives.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Judaism does not, on a whole, have much of a concept of an afterlife at all. The concept that one should live for the time after one is alive is quite foreign to Judaism.

    At most, Judaism holds that there is a place of purification where one goes after death. It is said that no one (not even Hitler) is so evil, so utterly devoid of some small sliver of goodness (even Hitler knew how to love, witness Eva Braum [sp]), so as to have to spend a full year there. Thus, 11 months (364 days, in some sects) is considered the most time someone would spend there before moving to a higher dimension of existence, purified and ready for the new dimension.

    Why are you so worried about other people's lives and afterlives?

    You want a Jewish perspective: Worry about your own life, live it well, with goodness and compassion, and let the rest sort itself out. G-D knows what the game plan is -- you don't.

    [Heh... one of these days I really MUST consider converting to Judaism...]

  • 1 decade ago

    I agree with what the rabbi said earlier. The Talmud mentions Gehinom (גיהינום) quite frequently, and it's definitely part of Jewish belief. People say that we do not "believe in hell" because we do not believe in the "hell" of Christianity. That is, we don't believe that everyone is going to go to a fiery pit to be tortured forever unless they believe a certain way. This is definitely not a part of Jewish faith, and it is not found in the Tanakh.

    I would agree also with the other posters who have said that Judaism is much more concerned with how you are living than with where another person "ended up."

  • 1 decade ago

    Reform I can't speak to at all. To my knowledge that movement has no unified theology. They just all believe what seems most sensible to each individual.

    Regarding Judaism and "hell", I am not sure why people feel it does not exist in out faith. I suspect an unfamiliarity witht he primary sources.

    The Talmud speaks extensively of Hell (Gehinnom). It is a place half fire and half ice. Most people who end up there get out. SOme do not. In Gemorrah Gittin the convert Onkeles conjured his uncle the Emperor Titus and asked him if he should convert to Judaism. His uncle was in hell. He also conjured the evil prophet Balaam. He was still in hell from Moses' time.

    The Talmud says one moment in hell is worse than 60 years of torture like Job's on earth. There are 1500 moments per minute in the Gemmorah's estimation.

    Talmud Rosh Hashanah has a list of types of Jewish sinners who are thrown to the bottom of hell and remain forever. Among them is a person who denies the existence of G-d.

    For the most part people can only stay there for 12 months, after which they are either completely destroyed by the fire or are allowed out to recieve reward for the good they did in their life.

    When Shimon Bar Yohai died he wept and said, "I see two paths before me. One to heaven and one to hell, and I do not know which one they will take me on."

    There is a classical book Reishes Chokmah which describes all the tortures of hell. THe Ben Ish Chai, the famous chief Rabbi of Baghdad, also wrote a similar book.

    Once the Chofetz Chaim returned to his yeshivah after an absence and asked the boys what ethical book they were learning. They answered Reishes Chokmah for four hours every day. He asked if they could stomach reading Reishes Chokmah for so long. One of the boys said they made it through by reminding themselves it is just a metephore.

    The Chofetz Chaim answered, "I want you to know there is not a single metephore in all of Reishes Chokmah."

    The boy passed out.

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  • Alan
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    You are correct. Jews do not believe in Hell as a place that god would send people who do not believe in him. Some of us would consider this "cruel and unusual punishment" to be completely immoral.

    As to what Hitler is going these days? I don't know. Personally, I suspect he is just decaying in the ground somewhere.

  • 1 decade ago

    the concept of hell just isn't part of Judaism. That's a fear based concept and Judaism is based on loving god, not fearing him.

    Jews just think Hitler is dead. He doesn't have to be in a heaven, just because they don't believe in a hell.

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