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Our Approach to Reform Judaism

Up until the European Enlightenment, and the beginning of Reform Judaism in the seventeenth century, there was only one option for religious Jews. Since the founding of the Reform Movement, and subsequently the Conservative Movement, there are many choices for Jewish religious expression. We are fond of saying that Temple Beth Hillel practices “authentic Reform Judaism.”

Early Reformers wished to be bound only to the ethics, but be free to observe, practice and relate to God in a way that was meaningful to them. Yet, as they reached out to embrace freedom of choice, they immediately began to create a “Reform Orthodoxy” by announcing those things Reform Jews don’t do: believe in the Messianic Age, wear a kipa, keep a kosher home and follow a whole set of observances they deemed to be outdated. The Reform Movement has since learned that many of the traditions discarded 300 years ago do have, for many, redeeming value.

Our staff and our teachers do not edit traditional Judaism. They present it all, with the pointed reminder that Reform Jews are obligated to the ethics and morals of Judaism, but have the freedom to choose their customs and ceremonies according to their need. That translates to “no freedom” regarding ethics and morals and “complete freedom” regarding custom and belief. Thus, we are required to offer, as a Reform Congregation, maximum education and opportunity for observance. When it comes to judgment, there is no judgment and no religious caste system; no Jew is closer to God then the next. With regard to ethics and morals, there is judgment. We expect a high level of adherence to the morality of Torah.

Thus a “Reform Congregation with a warm approach to tradition” announces to everyone that this is a place where you can come and learn about God, by studying theism, as well as humanism. You can wear a kipa or not, keep kosher or not, and no one will be judged. Temple Beth Hillel, an inclusive congregation in the fullest meaning of the term, welcomes you to authentic Reform Judaism.

Sat, June 22 2024 16 Sivan 5784