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?

3 Answers

  • 4 years 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.

  • DS M
    Lv 6
    4 years ago

    "A Jew is any person whose mother was a Jew or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism. It is important to note that being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do."

    Dr. Kaufman Kohler said, “We consider their [the Holy scripture’s] composition, their arrangements and their entire contents as the work of men, betraying in their conceptions of the world shortcomings of their age;”

    The Reform leader, Rabbi Schindler said, 'On theological problems,' he said, 'either you accept halacha or you are outside halacha. We have chosen to be outside.'...

    W. Gunther Plaut is a former president of the CCAR said, "The traditional trilogy of 'God, Israel, and Torah' is no longer operative as a Liberal consensus."

    " One cannot be a Jew affirming 'orthodoxy,' let alone a rabbi, if one does not affirm and accept the fundamental principles of the Jewish faith as defined by Maimonides. These include the principles that all the words of the prophets are true; that Moses was the supreme prophet, and his prophecy (the Five Books of Moses), therefore, is the ultimate standard for all and any prophetic truth; that the Torah given to us by Moses originated from God in toto; and that this Torah is immutable, that nothing can be added or subtracted from either the Written Torah or the Oral Torah."

    Hope this helps

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