Jews Of America, Part 4

419American Reformism

Question: As you know, German Jews were reformists. The arrival in America of hundreds of thousands of fellow believers from Eastern Europe (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Poland) did not make them happy because these Jews were Orthodox. On this basis, conflicts arose. Bohemian Isaac Mayer Wise is credited with founding American Reform Judaism.

What is the basis of reformism? What is the reason for this phenomenon in Judaism?

Answer: Reformism believes that religion should be left as a kind of background where it unites the people. And where it does not unite, it has to be removed. It is necessary to remove the orthodox religion from society because it divides it into clans, classes, etc.

Even in Russia, there were different rabbis in the villages who differed in their interpretations of Judaism and in everything else. And even more so, Eastern and Western Jews, Litvak and Belarusian Hasidim. Naturally, all this prevented unification.

On the other hand, American Jews wanted a purely mercantile use of their origin for their own good, and therefore sought to partially soften the tradition. We see that over the years, American Jewish society has more or less retained an indifferent form.

Of course, the difference between Jews is very large, but it is regarded according to the wallet, like the rest of American society. For example, in synagogues there are certain places for those who make large donations, for those who cannot pay that much, for special individuals, and for ordinary people, which cannot be in a meetinghouse. The Americans, with their inherent division of a person by pocket or rank, do it rather unceremoniously, which leaves an imprint on modern American Judaism.

But on the other hand, this led to the fact that today this Judaism, in principle, does not exist. It became the so-called three days a year Judaism, when people come to the synagogue only on holidays: Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Passover, etc. The rest comes down to you mailing a check to your rabbi or community.
From KabTV’s “Systematic Analysis of the Development of the People of Israel” 11/18/19

Related Material:
Jews Of America, Part 3
Jews Of America, Part 2
Jews Of America, Part 1

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