Judaism Reforms


Judaism Reforms

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Judaism Reforms;There are a myriad of reforms in the Judaism religion that occurred during the 19th century. These reforms were being spearheaded by a number of reformers, such as the Rabbi Samuel Holdheim, Rabbi Elmer Berger, Leopold Zunz, and others. However, each of these reformers has their own ideas that they wanted to be incorporated or retained in the traditional Judaism, to such an extent that ideas of some reformers were a contrast to those of the other. In addition, some ideas that were being presented by some reformers were highly objected by the traditional conservatives of the Judaism religion (orthodox).

Rabbi Samuel Holdheim, one of the radical reformers of that time, was one of those whose reform ideas were not highly accepted. There are a number of factors that made him to be a radical maskil. For example, when he became the Rabbi of the Berlin in 1840, he published a published a controversial book (The Autonomy of the Rabbis). In this book, he indicated that the Jewish divorce laws as well as the marriage laws were invalid and obsolete, due to the fact that they represented the national aspect of Judaism rather than the religious aspect (Michael 9-14). He also pointed that these laws ought to be superseded by state laws. His reforms were highly criticism by Leopold Zunz, who was Judaism conservative, claiming that these reform ideas are for the quacks and the soothsayers. Instead, he proposed that better reforms are those which sensitize Jews to review the achievements of the past, and try to improve them. For example, he sensitized Rabbis to embrace the aspect of making religious services be better contemplated by all Jews, by incorporating local language and music.

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The contemporary world is by far different from the conventional one in terms of the observance of various religious faiths. Globalization and the high cost of living have stimulated most individuals to migrate from their cultural and religious backgrounds in search of better living standards. This and numerous other aspects have contributed to the failure of preserving various religious faiths that were being held in the conventional society. Despite this, there are a myriad of key aspects that can enhance the preservation of various religious faiths. For example, religious faiths can be preserved by enacting laws that allow freedom of having various religious faiths in every part of the world, so that individuals can continue following their initial faiths even after migrating to any part of the world (Jennifer 2015). This would limit situations where are forced to abandon their faiths after migrating. In addition, it would also prevent political leaders from forcing people to follow a particular faith that they perceive important.

The proponents of the science of Judaism saw Jewish continuity in a number of ways. For example, they established Jewish laws that Jews should be adhere to. In their argument, these laws would prevent Jews from being swayed to other religious faiths that existed in the other parts of the world. For example, they ensured the Jews do not associated with non-Jews, including inter-marrying with them and establishing learning institutions that were meant for the Jews only. In addition, they sensitized Jews parents to educate their children about Jewish laws and rituals, in order for the latter to continue practicing them after the death of their parents.

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Rabbi Elmer Berger was born in 1905 and is widely recognized as a Jewish reform rabbi who spearheaded the move against Zionism especially when he was the chief executive officer of the American Council of Judaism (1942 to 1955) (Paul 2012). In his video clip, Elmer Berger criticizes Zionism and the state of Israel for declaring this country as the origin of Judaism and its move of declaring itself as an independent country for the Jews only. I concur with his critic to those who claimed that Judaism arose from the Jewish people and, therefore it’s a religion of the Jewish individuals. In his explanation of the true meaning of Judaism, Elmer Berger stipulated that Judaism is to walk humbly with God, to have mercy to the others, and to propagate justice to people. This means that the finest form of Judaism exceeds the Jewish people. Just like Elmer Berger`s perceptive to Israel, I would support this country to de-zionize (Paul 2012). Precisely, I would urge Israel to stop excluding itself as a Jewish state, and instead commence giving equal privileges and rights to all individuals (including those who are non-Jews), and to walk humbly with God by being merciful and just to all individuals, as well as embracing the development of a democratic state.

These aspects that were put across by Elmer Berger were the core aspects that the reformers of Judaism wanted to be incorporated in the traditional form of Judaism. Most of the reformers, such as Rabbi Samuel Holdheim spearheaded the abolition of the conventional Judaism laws such as marriage and divorce, which made the lives of the Jews to be more complicated. Aspects of Jews considering themselves as superior than the non-Jews, to the extent of segregating themselves from the others are outdated.

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Hasidic movement is a movement whose core agenda was to enhance Jewish spirituality by internalizing and popularizing Jewish mysticism, as the central aspect of faith. However, this was not a simple process since most Jewish had at first opposed the move. The movement was founded in 1760 by Ba`al Shem Tov, as a reaction to the initial form of Judaism that was being perceived by some individuals as being overly legalistic form of Judaism. However, the leaders of this movement attempted a number of strategies that would enable it to achieve its set goals and objectives, but no success was realized during the i8th century. However, the movement achieved its success during 1820, and this was as a result of the utilization of a combination of initiatives, which make it to become dominant in various parts of the Jewish society, especially Galicia and Ukraine (Adam 12-16). The movement employed numerous institutional and leadership models in order to succeed. For example, the movement created a charismatic spiritual leader, Zaddik, who acted as an intermediary between the common people (Hasid) and God. This means that individuals were directing their early and spiritual problems to this figure leader, who then used to forward them to on their behalf. In addition, the movement used a number of Jewish courts in order to popularize its agendas to the Jews (Adam 23).

The most convincing argument from Adam Teller`s article is the ability of the movement to unite all Jews in various parts of the Eastern Europe. This is not a simple task since the movement was being opposed by a number of Jews.

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The Musar Movement is a movement that was started during the 19th century by Israel Salanter, with the aim of enhancing ethical conduct, greater inwardness as well as religious piety among the traditional conservatives of Judaism. However, the development of this movement had a number of processes. For example, the start of this movement was influenced by the example and the teachings of Joseph Sundel Benjamin Benish Salanter, who saw it better to mobilize member of the Lithuania Yeshivot community (Encyclopaedia 2008). Apparently, some circumstances led to a radical change of the initial aim of this movement of forming a pattern for teaching and leading an exemplary live among the community members, to creating a personality of the young students in the community. Later, the aim of movement changed to enhancing religious piety among those who held conventional Judaism.

There are numerous aspects that are interesting in Hirsch Leib Gordon`s memoir (The Musar Yeshivah). However, the most interesting aspect is where Hirsch Leib Gordon stipulates that he had been searching for the Holy Spirit in a mud hole, which had abandoned him for four years, making him to sink deeper in the mud, his spirit to become overstrained, loss of vitality and sleep (Mendes-Flohr, Paul & Jehuda 49-61). It is also interesting that he had started a school in order to facilitate the learning of students who supported Mussar movement, and this became possible from the finances that he used to get from the German Orthodox circles. Despite this, he faced strong opposition from leaders and rabbis who never support this educational system.

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Works Cited

Adam Teller. Hasidism and the Challenge of Geography: The Polish Background to the Spread of the Hasidic Movement. AJS Review, Volume 30 / Issue 01 / April 2006, pp 1-29.

Encyclopaedia Judaica. Issues in Jewish Ethics: The Mussar Movement. Published on June, 2008. Retrieved from,

Jennifer A. Marshall. Why Does Religious Freedom Matter? Published on Dec 13th, 2015. Retrieved from,

Mendes-Flohr, Paul R, and Jehuda Reinharz. The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.

Michael Meyer. “Most of My Brethren Find Me Unacceptable”: The Controversial Career of Rabbi Samuel Holdheim. Vol. 9 no. 3, Spring/Summer 2003. Pp. 1-19

Paul Gottfried. Jews against Israel- Rabbi Outcast: Elmer Berger and American Jewish Anti-Zionism. Published on 17th June, 2012. Retrieved from,