Progressive Judaism

What is Progressive/Reform Judaism?

Throughout history, Jews have remained firmly rooted in Jewish tradition, even as we learned much from our encounters with other cultures. Nevertheless, since its
earliest days, Progressive/Reform Judaism has asserted that a Judaism frozen in time is an heirloom, not a living fountain. The great contribution of Progressive/Reform Judaism is that it has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt and to bring faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship.

  • Progressive/Reform Judaism affirms the central tenets of Judaism – God, Torah and Israel – even as it acknowledges the diversity of Progressive/Reform Jewish beliefs and practices.
  • We believe that all human beings are created in the image of God, and that we are God’s partners in improving the world.
  • Tikkun Olam — repairing the world — is a hallmark of Progressive/Reform Judaism as we strive to bring peace, freedom and justice to all people.
  • Progressive/Reform Jews are committed to the principle of inclusion, not exclusion.
  • Progressive/Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of women in all areas of Jewish life. We were the first movement to ordain women rabbis, invest women cantors and elect women presidents of our synagogues.
  • Progressive/Reform Jews are also committed to the full participation of people of all gender
    identity in synagogue life as well as society at large.
  • Progressive/Reform Jews in South Africa are committed to contribute to a true reconciliation process in South Africa, bringing healing to our country.

Progressive Jewish Organisations

Progressive Jews are represented in South Africa by the South African Union for Progressive Judaism (SAUPJ). You can find out more about them from the SAUPJ website.

Since the 1920s there has also been an international representative body for Progressive Judaism. It is the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ). Find out more about the WUPJ.

There are important Progressive (also called Reform, Liberal, Reconstructionist) Jewish communities and organizations all around the world. Below are some website links to key institutions which you might find of interest:

Country Organization Web address/link
UK Liberal Judaism
UK Movement for Reform Judaism
UK Leo Baeck College
Germany Abraham Geiger Kolleg
USA Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
USA Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR)
USA Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)
Israel Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ)
Israel Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC)