Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

How do Reform Jews observe Shabbat?

Generally speaking how would a Reform Jew observe Shabbat compared to an Orthodox Jew? Do some of them not observe Shabbat at all ever? Also, do Reform Jews generally know any Hebrew or not?

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    With apologies to the first answerer and all the people giving him/her thumbs up, Reform Jews do not observe Shabbat in anything resembling the same way that Orthodox Jews do. An Orthodox Jew would never say that sometimes working on the Sabbath is unavoidable - Orthodox Jews would never take a job where that was the case.

    Reform Judaism does not accept the Torah laws as binding. So not only do they not keep all of the laws of the Sabbath that Orthodox Jews do, they do not believe that it is necessary to do so. This is NOT a judgment against Reform Judaism or an attempt to say that their way of keeping Shabbat is invalid - they have a right to their beliefs and practices, and many Reform Jews are deeply religious and keep Shabbat according to those beliefs and practices. I am ONLY saying that it is not in any way the same set of practices as Orthodox Jews follow. For example, Reform Jews will drive to synagogue, use a microphone at services, adjust the lights and air conditioning during services if necessary, play musical instruments as part of the service, and other modern accommodations that are not allowed according to halacha (Jewish law). They may buy kosher chicken, and will not serve pork, but are unlikely to have fully kosher homes, and do have a problem with cooking or reheating foods on the Sabbath. Again, this is not an attack on Reform Jews, only a statement - it is not considered necessary according to Reform Judaism to do otherwise.

    Honestly, the vast majority of Reform Jews do not go to synagogue at all once they pass the age of bar/bat mitzvah, except for the high holidays. They may set the Sabbath aside as a day to take it easy, but it is not a strict practice. They certainly would not avoid shopping, going online, watching TV, or going to sports events simply because of the Sabbath. It's not asked of them. And there are plenty of Reform Jews who only call themselves Reform because we don't have the term "lapsed," the way Catholics do. Basically the synagogue they never go to would be the Reform one ;)

    Reform Jews do learn Hebrew, as part of bar and bat mitzvah training. The services are at least half in Hebrew (another difference there: Orthodox services are entirely in Hebrew), and the Torah and Haftorah portions are always in Hebrew as well. In addition, many Reform Jews have a love for Israel that leads them to study Modern Hebrew and become fluent. Not the majority, but in large enough numbers that it would be wrong not to mention it.

    Source(s): I'm an Orthodox Jew, with many Reform friends
  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    For a long time in Reform there was movement away from observing Shabbat much. However in recent years there's be a movement toward re inserting spirtuality back into the Reform, so many people now observe it but with adjustments into the modern ages or less strickness. So Orthodox don't light anything including through use of electricity, don't write, do no work, etc.. It's very well structured set of commandments and rules. Reform will maybe stick with lighting candles on Friday night, and using Shabbat to get together with family, and not do overt work. Some will do nothing or part of these, but more and more I'm finding people adding it back in. In Israel it's less so a Reform, conservative and Orthodox movements as they just say religious and non-religious and someplace in between. There though, there's a special feeling on Shabbat as the country changes modes. Even if you don't observe you can feel it. And even those folks use it to get together with family. A habit I wish we had here.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Reform Judaism Shabbat

  • Mary
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    For the best answers, search on this site

    Good question - some Reform Jews do not keep to the admonition of not doing work. For example, many Orthodox Jews (and some Conservative) live CLOSE to shul (synagogue) so they can walk on Shabbat (Sabbath), while most Reform Jews will drive and therefore live anywhere. Thus, the tight-knit community of the Orthodox and especially the ultra-Orthodox. BTW - my cousin (the Head Rabbi in Munich - I'm so proud of him!) used to put a large metal tray on the top of the stove, a kettle of water, and then KEEP the two burners - electric - on a low setting. As long as he did this BEFORE Shabbat, he was not doing work (making energy, etc.) and he had hot water for tea for the whole Shabbat!

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  • Abriel
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    It depends on the Synagogue. My own observes Shabbat probably about the same as Orthodox except men and women do sit together and not all of the service is in Hebrew, although a good deal of it is. Most Reform Jews try not to work on Shabbat although unfortunately some of us have no choice.

    Source(s): will be starting conversion Reform in September
  • 1 decade ago

    In the Orthodox, halachic (Jewish law) sense, observing Shabbat means refraining from 39 activities specifically prohibited in the Torah. In modern life this includes such things as not using electricity (though lights etc on timers that you don't have to turn on or off manually are allowed), not driving or riding in cars, not writing or engaging in any kind of creative work, not traveling, not handling money, or carrying any items outside a certain allowed distance. On the positive side, Orthodox Jews pray in synagogues on Friday evening, Saturday morning (including reading from weekly Torah portion), and Saturday afternoon, make special meals, and say prayers over candles (lit 18 minutes before sunset on Friday), challah (special braided bread), and wine.

    Many Reform Jews don't observe Shabbat at all, or if they do it is not in a halachic (according to Jewish law) manner. I grew up in a Reform household and we had a special Shabbat dinner on Friday nights with candle lighting, challah, and wine, and sometimes we went to synagogue. If we went to synagogue on Shabbat, we drove to get there, and we used electricity in our house. My mother chooses not to use money on Shabbat but we will still do something like go to Barnes & Noble to look at books and if I buy coffee, she has me get her one too (fully realizing her hypocrisy!). In my family, Shabbat was more about setting aside a special time to focus on relaxing with the family even if that meant watching tv together, barbequing, doing an art project, or other activities that are technically prohibited on Shabbat.

    Please be aware, customs range really widely among any household or individual! This is just my personal experience growing up Reform. Other Reform families I knew didn't take any notice of Shabbat and participated in sports leagues or went shopping, etc. Others do more than my family.

    Regarding Hebrew, most Reform Jews who's families affiliate with a syngogue have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah (ceremony when you turn 13 where you read from the Torah, signifying becoming an adult in the Jewish community) and before having this ceremony it is required to participate in Hebrew school classes or training programs. So all Reform Jews who have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah gain some knowledge at least as a kid, but requirements differ from synagogue to synagogue, and what one retains as one grows up is entirely up to personal experience. Some Reform Jews spend significant time in Israel and speak Hebrew fluently while others forget everything they learned as a kid and never show further interest.

  • 1 decade ago

    Orthodox follows the word of the Torah, which is the Word of Hashem (G-d).

    This is the ONLY way to observe Shabbat, by the written and oral Torah.

    What anyone else decides to remove or add is not allowed.

  • 5 years ago

    can i drive to an orthodox home to have dinner on shabbos

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