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What is Reform Judaism?

Leo Baeck is a member of PARDES, Day School of Reform Judaism, which now has 16 schools across North America.  If you would like to learn more about PARDES, please visit their website at www.pardesdayschools.org.

At Leo Baeck we welcome Jewish children from all backgrounds and denominations, but in our prayer services and in our ethos as a school we follow Reform practice and tradition.  If you would like to learn more about Reform Judaism, please visit the Union of Reform Judaism’s website at www.urj.org.

Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modern, egalitarian and compatible with participation in the surrounding culture.  Many branches of Reform Judaism hold that Jewish law should be interpreted as a set of general guidelines rather than as a list of restrictions whose literal observance is required of all Jews.

Reform Judaism has its roots in Germany in the late 1700s, when a group of university-educated Jews sought entry into the greater society, as well as a Judaism that was both rational and spiritual, speaking to their modern concerns and the need for social innovation.  Since the establishment of the first Reform congregation in Hamburg in 1810, the Reform movement has spread throughout the globe, championing social justice, innovation in prayer and Jewish music, community outreach, and making Jewish decisions and commitments based on informed choice.  Similar movements that may also be called “Reform” include the Israeli Progressive Movement and its worldwide counterpart, the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Official bodies of the Reform Movement in North America include the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

For more information please contact our Dean of Jewish Living, Rabbi Noam Katz at nkatz@leobaeck.ca