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Pittsburgh Principles 1999

Pittsburgh Principles 1999

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Published by: jewsbychoice.org on Aug 06, 2008
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A Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism
Adopted At the 1999 pittsburgh Convention

Central Con\ue001erence o\ue001 American Rabbis
May 1999 - Sivan 5759
See Commentary on the Principles \ue001or Re\ue001orm Judaism


On three occasions during the last century and a hal\ue001, the Re\ue001orm rabbinate has adopted comprehensive statements to help guide the thought and practice o\ue001 our movement. In 1885, \ue000\ue001teen rabbis issued the Pittsburgh Plat\ue001orm, a set o\ue001 guidelines that de\ue000ned Re\ue001orm Judaism \ue001or the next \ue000\ue001ty years. A revised statement o\ue001 principles, the Columbus Plat\ue001orm, was adopted by the Central Con\ue001erence o\ue001 American Rabbis in 1937. A third set o\ue001 rabbinic guidelines, the Centenary Perspective, appeared in 1976 on the occasion o\ue001 the centenary o\ue001 the Union o\ue001 American Hebrew Congregations and the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute o\ue001 Religion. Today, when so many individuals are striving \ue001or religious meaning, moral purpose and a sense o\ue001 community, we believe it is our obligation as rabbis once again to state a set o\ue001 principles that de\ue000ne Re\ue001orm Judaism in our own time.

Throughout our history, we Jews have remained \ue000rmly rooted in Jewish tradition, even as we have learned much \ue001rom our encounters with other cultures. The great contribution o\ue001 Re\ue001orm Judaism is that it has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to a\ue001\ue000rm belie\ue001s without rejecting those who doubt, and to bring \ue001aith to sacred texts without sacri\ue000cing critical scholarship.

This \u201cStatement o\ue001 Principles\u201d a\ue001\ue000rms the central tenets o\ue001 Judaism - God, Torah and Israel - even as it acknowledges the diversity o\ue001 Re\ue001orm Jewish belie\ue001s and practices. It also invites all Re\ue001orm Jews to engage in a dialogue with the sources o\ue001 our tradition, responding out o\ue001 our knowledge, our experience and our \ue001aith. Thus we hope to trans\ue001orm our lives through (kedushah), holiness.

We a\ue001\ue000rm the reality and oneness o\ue001 God, even as we may di\ue001\ue001er in our understanding o\ue001 the Divine presence.
We a\ue001\ue000rm that the Jewish people is bound to God by an eternal (b\u2019rit), covenant, as refected in our varied understandings o\ue001
Creation, Revelation and Redemption.
We a\ue001\ue000rm that every human being is created (b\u2019tzelem Elohim), in the image o\ue001 God, and that there\ue001ore every human li\ue001e is
We regard with reverence all o\ue001 God\u2019s creation and recognize our human responsibility \ue001or its preservation and protection.
We encounter God\u2019s presence in moments o\ue001 awe and wonder, in acts o\ue001 justice and compassion, in loving relationships and
in the experiences o\ue001 everyday li\ue001e.
We respond to God daily: through public and private prayer, through study and through the per\ue001ormance o\ue001 other (mitzvot),
sacred obligations -- (bein adam la Makom), to God, and (bein adam la-chaveiro), to other human beings.
We strive \ue001or a \ue001aith that \ue001orti\ue000es us through the vicissitudes o\ue001 our lives -- illness and healing, transgression and repentance,
bereavement and consolation, despair and hope.
We continue to have \ue001aith that, in spite o\ue001 the unspeakable evils committed against our people and the su\ue001\ue001erings endured by

others, the partnership o\ue001 God and humanity will ultimately prevail.
We trust in our tradition\u2019s promise that, although God created us as \ue000nite beings, the spirit within us is eternal.
In all these ways and more, God gives meaning and purpose to our lives.

We a\ue001\ue000rm that Torah is the \ue001oundation o\ue001 Jewish li\ue001e.
We cherish the truths revealed in Torah, God\u2019s ongoing revelation to our people and the record o\ue001 our people\u2019s ongoing
relationship with God.
We a\ue001\ue000rm that Torah is a mani\ue001estation o\ue001 ahavat olam, God\u2019s eternal love \ue001or the Jewish people and \ue001or all humanity.
We a\ue001\ue000rm the importance o\ue001 studying Hebrew, the language o\ue001 Torah and Jewish liturgy, that we may draw closer to our
people\u2019s sacred texts.
We are called by Torah to li\ue001elong study in the home, in the synagogue and in every place where Jews gather to learn and teach.
Through Torah study we are called tomitzvot, the means by which we make our lives holy.

We are committed to the ongoing study o\ue001 the whole array o\ue001mitzvot and to the \ue001ul\ue000llment o\ue001 those that address us as individuals and as a community. Some o\ue001 thesemitzvot, sacred obligations, have long been observed by Re\ue001orm Jews; others, both ancient and modern, demand renewed attention as the result o\ue001 the unique context o\ue001 our own times.

We bring Torah into the world when we seek to sancti\ue001y the times and places o\ue001 our lives through regular home and congregational observance. Shabbat calls us to bring the highest moral values to our daily labor and to culminate the workweek withkedushah, holiness,menuchah, rest andoneg, joy. The High Holy Days call us to account \ue001or our deeds. The Festivals enable us to celebrate with joy our people\u2019s religious journey in the context o\ue001 the changing seasons. The days o\ue001 remembrance remind us o\ue001 the tragedies and the triumphs that have shaped our people\u2019s historical experience both in ancient and modern times. And we mark the milestones o\ue001 our personal journeys with traditional and creative rites that reveal the holiness in each stage o\ue001 li\ue001e.

We bring Torah into the world when we strive to \ue001ul\ue000ll the highest ethical mandates in our relationships with others and with all o\ue001 God\u2019s creation. Partners with God in tikkun olam, repairing the world, we are called to help bring nearer the messianic age. We seek dialogue and joint action with people o\ue001 other \ue001aiths in the hope that together we can bring peace, \ue001reedom and justice to our world. We are obligated to pursuetzedek, justice and righteousness, and to narrow the gap between the a\ue001fuent and the poor, to act against discrimination and oppression, to pursue peace, to welcome the stranger, to protect the earth\u2019s biodiversity and natural resources, and to redeem those in physical, economic and spiritual bondage. In so doing, we rea\ue001\ue000rm social action and social justice as a central prophetic \ue001ocus o\ue001 traditional Re\ue001orm Jewish belie\ue001 and practice. We a\ue001\ue000rm the

mitzvaho\ue001 tzedakah, setting aside portions o\ue001 our earnings and our time to provide \ue001or those in need. These acts bring us closer
to \ue001ul\ue000lling the prophetic call to translate the words o\ue001 Torah into the works o\ue001 our hands.
In all these ways and more, Torah gives meaning and purpose to our lives.
We are Israel, a people aspiring to holiness, singled out through our ancient covenant and our unique history among the
nations to be witnesses to God\u2019s presence. We are linked by that covenant and that history to all Jews in every age and place.

We are committed to themitzvah o\ue001 ahavat Yisrael, love \ue001or the Jewish people, and to k\u2019lal Yisrael, the entirety o\ue001 the community o\ue001 Israel. Recognizing that kol Yisrael arevim zeh ba-zeh, all Jews are responsible \ue001or one another, we reach out to all Jews across ideological and geographical boundaries.

We embrace religious and cultural pluralism as an expression o\ue001 the vitality o\ue001 Jewish communal li\ue001e in Israel and the

We pledge to \ue001ul\ue000ll Re\ue001orm Judaism\u2019s historic commitment to the complete equality o\ue001 women and men in Jewish li\ue001e.
We are an inclusive community, opening doors to Jewish li\ue001e to people o\ue001 all ages, to varied kinds o\ue001 \ue001amilies, to all regardless

o\ue001 their sexual orientation, togerim, those who have converted to Judaism, and to all individuals and \ue001amilies, including the
intermarried, who strive to create a Jewish home.
We believe that we must not only open doors \ue001or those ready to enter our \ue001aith, but also to actively encourage those who are
seeking a spiritual home to \ue000nd it in Judaism.
We are committed to strengthening the people Israel by supporting individuals and \ue001amilies in the creation o\ue001 homes rich in

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