Re­for­mmap­pin­gout­fu­ture

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE MOVE­MENT for Re­form Ju­daism has launched a strate­gic re­view to set its pri­or­i­ties over the next five-to-10 years.

An 18-page “green pa­per” pub­lished this week is be­ing cir­cu­lated to its syn­a­gogues, invit­ing mem­bers’ views on where the cen­tral move­ment should put its an­nual £3 mil­lion bud­get.

Cen­tred on a set of ques­tions for dis­cus­sion, the doc­u­ment is “not the way Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions tra­di­tion­ally go about re­form­ing them­selves”, said Ben Rich, who be­came chief ex­ec­u­tive in May. “Gen­er­ally they em­ploy a top­down ap­proach. This is com­pletely the op­po­site.”

The plan is to fol­low up with a “white pa­per” early next year fol­low­ing feed­back from lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Fi­nal rec­om­men­da­tions for ac­tion would be made in spring.

Mr Rich said the re­view was nec­es­sary be­cause “we are at a very sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of the UK Jewish com­mu­nity.

“This isn’t just about the state of Re­form Ju­daism. It is to do with a lot of changes go­ing on across the com­mu­nity, some of them good, some bad.”

The Jewish pop­u­la­tion was shrink­ing and age­ing and younger peo­ple were less at­tached to in­sti­tu­tions. “There is a break­down in old al­le­giances,” he ob­served.

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, the stand­ing of Re­form Ju­daism has in­creased “sig­nif­i­cantly” in re­cent years, yet Re­form mem­ber­ship has largely re­mained static while the Lib­er­als and Ma­sorti have grown.

MrRich­saidthe­move­men­tac­cepted that “we have got some things wrong. We have not suc­ceeded in grow­ing al­le­giance to Re­form Ju­daism, whereas we have suc­ceeded in grow­ing al­le­giance to Re­form val­ues.”

It still needed to do more to com­mu­ni­cate that Re­form was based on “pos­i­tive val­ues” rather than al­low peo­ple to think of it as “an ab­sence of Or­tho­doxy”.

The con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise, he ex­plained, was in­tended to an­swer the ques­tion: “If the Move­ment for Re­form Ju­daism didn’t ex­ist, why would our syn­a­gogues choose to in­vent us?”

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