Theological and Pedagogical Implications of the Role of Zionism in Reform Jewish Manifestos: A Bridge from Vision to Praxis

Oct. 04, 2009

Source: Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 75, Issue 4, pages 329 - 349 


In this article, the authors explore the transition from philosophical and theological manifestos to their practical and educational implementation as they analyze the official American Reform-Judaism discourse as curricular text. This analysis provides a tool for a discussion of the relationships between vision and its implementation particularly for educators and leaders. They highlight the possibilities of dialogue among educators, rabbis-in-training, and leaders to aid in the formation of new visionary documents and, in doing so, affect the dynamics of paving new directions. They demonstrate a model that may be used to investigate such translations from vision to a lived experience and back to reconstruction of a vision.


The authors take us through the evolution of Reform Jewish thinking on Zionism from its universalistic anti-Zionism in the nineteenth century through its transition in the first half of the twentieth century, to its unabashed enthusiasm for the Zionist project in the latter part of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century. They suggest that the Reform “platforms” and the related “supplementary articles” can be understood as curricular documents with significant educational implications. They explore three dimensions to the Reform understanding of Zionism: the relationships among faith, ethnicity and national identity, the connection between Messianic aspirations and the political sphere, and the role of Hebrew language. They then go on to explore how the education of future rabbis and other Jewish leaders reflects - and might reflect to an even greater extent - the perspectives they have explored.

Updated: Dec. 14, 2009