The Growth of Reform Judaism American and European Sources

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  • Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut (author)
  • Rabbi Howard A. Berman (introduction)
  • Rabbi David Ellenson (afterword)
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About the Book

Foreword by Jacob K. Shankman
New introduction by Howard A. Berman
New epilogue by David Ellenson
With select documents, 1975-2008

This fiftieth anniversary edition of W. Gunther Plaut’s classic second volume on the history of the Jewish Reform Movement is a sourcebook of the original writings that shaped the second century of organized Liberal Judaism. The Growth of Reform Judaism features a new introduction, a new epilogue, and important additional primary sources documenting the profound changes of the last fifty years. View first volume, The Rise of Reform Judaism.

Although the emphasis in this volume is chiefly on the American scene, where the movement had its most notable advances, selections of representative Liberal Jewish thought in Europe and to a lesser degree in Israel are included as well. These selections help us to understand the emergence and character, problems and tensions of Reform Judaism as it developed and grew in modern times. In addition to the primary texts new to this edition, David Ellenson’s epilogue considers the developments of the last fifty years that have continued to shape the course of Reform Judaism.

View other JPS Anthologies of Jewish Thought.


The characteristic diversity within Reform Judaism is underscored on virtually every page of Plaut’s volumes.
—Rabbi Howard A. Berman, executive director of the Society for Classical Reform Judaism

The work of Rabbi Plaut is not only crucial for an understanding of Reform Judaism; it is also indispensable for grasping the development and history of Judaism in the modern world.

—Rabbi David Ellenson, chancellor and past president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut

Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut (1912–2012) was a longtime rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. The author of more than twenty books on Jewish theology, history, and culture, he is best known for The Torah: A Modern Commentary.

Rabbi Howard A. Berman

Rabbi Howard A. Berman is the executive director of the Society for Classical Reform Judaism. He lectures throughout the country on behalf of the Society and teaches regularly at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and Jerusalem. He is Rabbi Emeritus of Chicago Sinai Congregation and Founding Rabbi of Central Reform Temple, Boston. Rabbi Berman is the co-editor of  The Union Prayer Book-Sinai Edition, revised, and the editor of The New Union Hagaddah, published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Rabbi David Ellenson

Rabbi David Ellenson is president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought, and upon his retirement in 2014 will become chancellor of HUC-JIR. He is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem and a fellow and lecturer at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. His extensive publications include Tradition in Transition, Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy, Between Tradition and Culture, and After Emancipation (a National Jewish Book Award winner).

Book Reviews

  • “Rabbi Plaut, who died in 2012 at the age of 99, was onto something when he wrote that Reform Judaism ‘is a phenomenon of man’s restless spirit.’ Substitute a gender-neutral term and he’s still right….the debate and challenges Rabbi Plaut so cherished continue.” Read Canadian Jewish News Review.

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