/ articles for review

Resources: Denominations

Articles of interest regarding Jewish denominations, useful for Lecture 5

Do Endless Denominational Turf Wars Even Matter Anymore?

By Jay Michaelson
November 9, 2015
…denominational labels and claims to legitimacy are of secondary importance at most. I have much more in common with a committed Reform Jew than with a non-committed Conservative or Reconstructionist one. Of course, for that matter, I also have more in common with a committed Buddhist than with a non-committed, or ethnocentric, Jew. But I think it’s also true of the inspired Jewish leaders I know.
Divisions and denominations used to matter in a way they don’t now. There was a time when my Jewishness was defined by the practices and social mores of my temple and denomination, which is perhaps why some people get so worked up about them.  

We Need Radical Pluralism

July 19, 2015

…nearly 170 rabbis of all denominations, from North America and around the world, gathered at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. We spent 10 days studying Jewish texts, wrestling over their profound lessons for today’s world….

Now, it seems that this moment calls out for greater need for pluralism. Dramatic changes sweeping the American religious landscape and challenges straining the American Jewish community’s attachments to Israel call for new intentionality. As commitments to Jewish unity give way to individual choice, we need to reinvigorate the collective that gave strength to our people in the past.

The Jewish streams that empowered 20th century American Jews have been weakened during this time of change. Surely, denominational affiliation offers a sense of identity and belonging to American Jews. Now, we need more than these structures; we need what I would call radical pluralism to augment the value of our organizations. These times call for greater breaking down of barriers between us.

Rabbi Amy Small is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute

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