About the Book
Foreword by Solomon B. Freehof
New introduction by Howard A. Berman
This fiftieth anniversary edition of W. Gunther Plaut’s classic volume on the beginnings of the Jewish Reform Movement is updated with a new introduction by Howard A. Berman. The Rise of Reform Judaism covers the first one hundred years of the movement, from the time of the eighteenth-century Jewish Enlightenment leader Moses Mendelssohn to the conclusion of the Augsburg synod in 1871. View second volume, The Growth of Reform Judaism.
In these pages the founders who established Liberal Judaism, which originated in eastern Europe, speak for themselves through their journals and pamphlets, books and sermons, petitions and resolutions, and public arguments and disputations. Each selection includes Plaut’s brief introduction and sketch of the reformer. Important topics within Judaism are addressed in these writings: philosophy and theology, religious practice, synagogue services, and personal life, as well as controversies on the permissibility of organ music, the introduction of the sermon, the nature of circumcision, the observance of the Sabbath, the rights of women, and the authenticity of the Bible.
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
This valuable collection of source materials is designed to acquaint the reader with the primary forces in the development of Reform Judaism in Europe. From a wide range of essays, articles, speeches, and other writings, Dr. Plaut judiciously selects those that best represent the thinking of the leaders as well as of the lesser, more obscure figures of the Reform movement.