Toward an “indigengous Reform vision of halachah”

The other day, I had some nice things to say about this new op-ed in The Forward from fellow jblogger and Jewschooler BZ.

Over the course of the rather active comment thread on the version of that post at Jewschool, BZ shared a great chunk from his original draft of the op-ed that got cut for length. I’ll share it here because I think it just continues to hit the nail on the head.

When intra-Reform discourse touches on the subject of halachah (Jewish law), people on all sides of the issue tend to portray “the halachah” as a static body of law. Whether they are advocating for the position “Reform Judaism is not halachic” or “Reform Judaism should be more open to halachah,” the unspoken assumption is that Orthodox halachah is the normative halachah, and Reform Judaism should either reject it or incorporate elements of it. In other words, Orthodox Judaism is perceived as 100% halachic, and the debate is about whether Reform Judaism should be 0% halachic or somewhere between 0 and 100%. Instead, Reform Jews should steer clear of this linear scale and pursue an indigenous Reform vision of the structure and content of halachah.

Right on, BZ, as always!

Shabbat Shalom, jblogosphere. Selah!

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2 Responses to Toward an “indigengous Reform vision of halachah”

  1. Ben Sternman October 24, 2009 at 9:02 pm #

    Please see the following of interest:
    http://www.myjewishlearning.com/practices/Ritual/Jewish_Practices/Halakhah_Jewish_Law_/Contemporary_Attitudes/Reform.shtml

    The book where it was taken from would be better, but this will have to do.

  2. mstreiffer January 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    No question this is right. The Reform movement has been creating halacha from the beginning – through through books like Washofsky’s “Jewish Living,” which is essentially a Jewish law code, and through hundreds upon hundreds of responsa that take up serious Jewish questions through traditional and modern lenses. The fact that we view halacha as non-binding aside, these works have added – and continue to add – to the halachic discourse.