The Americanization of Judaism

Steven Weisman examines the rise of the Reform movement in the United States.

By GLENN C. ALTSCHULER
August 29, 2018 20:07
4 minute read.
A FAMILY prepares for Passover at their home in Wisconsin.

A FAMILY prepares for Passover at their home in Wisconsin.. (photo credit: GARY PORTER/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL/MCT)

 
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In 1824, 47 members of the congregation of Beth Elohim, in Charleston, South Carolina, signed a petition calling for some prayers to be repeated in English, an “abridgment” of the Shabbat service, and an end to the practice of selling honors (such as reciting blessings before readings of portions of the Torah).

“We wish not to destroy but to reform and revise, the evils complained of; not to abandon the Institutions of Moses; we wish to worship God, not as slaves of bigotry and priestcraft, but as the enlightened descendants of that chosen race whose blessings have scattered throughout our land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

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