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Reform Judaism

Reform Judaism has been moving in two directions simultaneously--embracing more tradition and accepting new definitions of Jewish identity. Dana Kaplan has been a Reform rabbi since his ordination in Jerusalem in 1994 and has both studied and experienced this bidirectional change. In contrast to the current preoccupation with practical innovation, many of his writings have focused on theology. In a number of articles, Rabbi Kaplan has argued that the Reform Movement would benefit from a consistent approach to belief. He has also argued that making religious demands can be beneficial to religious organizations, and that liberal denominations that dispense with all requirements tend to have almost insurmountable difficulties in maintaining the loyalty of their adherents. Kaplan writes because he enjoys not only the process of putting ideas down on paper, but also thinking about contrasting conceptions of religion and how they might be reconciled. He has assembled here many of his writings on Reform Judaism. You will find he has an eclectic approach to religion and this manifests itself in how he understands Reform Judaism.

“Searching for Inspiring Models of Spiritual Thought in the Holy Land: Reform Rabbi Herbert Weiner’s Writings on Religious Developments in The State of Israel in the 1950s and 1960s,” Journal of Jewish Studies, Spring 2022.

"How Can We Build a Life of Meaning? Reflections on S’lichot," CCAR Press RavBlog, August 26, 2021.

American Reform Judaism's Increasing Acceptance of Kabbalah: The Contribution of Rabbi Herbert Weiner's Spiritual Search in 9½ Mystics,” Brian Ogren (Ed.), Kabbalah in America: Ancient Lore in the New World, Leiden, Holland and Boston: Brill, 2020.

“How the Status of Reform Judaism in Israel Has Affected Reform Jewish Perceptions of Zionism and Israel,” CCAR Journal, Winter 2019.

“Embracing Reform Judaism: Behind the Scenes of ‘A Life of Meaning’,” CCAR Press RavBlog, November 28, 2017.

“Can a rabbi marry someone of another religion? Debates of the American Reform movement whether intermarried rabbis can lead Reform congregations,” Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2017.

“Reform Judaism,” with Evan Moffic, Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices, 2nd Edition, October 2014.

“Reform Jewry Grapples With Intermarriage Among Rabbinic Students,” Forward, April 23, 2013.

“Faith and Matrimony,” Jewish Ideas Daily, April 19, 2013.

“Losing Mark Zuckerberg,” The Forward, June 1, 2012.

“Reform Judaism in North America,”  The Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and Jewish Culture, edited by Judith Baskin, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

“Reform's Distracting War Over Politics,” The Forward, May 13, 2011.

“In Praise of Reform Theology,” The Forward, March 16, 2011.


“The Theological Roots of Reform Judaism’s Woes,” The Forward, February 25, 2011.

“Judaism: Reform Judaism,” The Encyclopedia of Religion in America, CQ Press, 2010.

“The Letters of Rabbi Samuel S. Cohon,” H-Judaic, June 2009.

“Reform Judaism,” Encyclopedia Judaica, revised edition, Volume 17, 2007.

  • 2007 Dartmouth Medal - awarded by the American Library Association in recognition of distinguished achievement relating to the creation of works of reference of outstanding quality and significance.


“American Reform Judaism and the Southern Baptist Convention: Responses to Social Trends,” Religion and American Culture, with Scott Langston, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Vol. 24, No. 3, 2006.

“The Reform Theological Enterprise at Work: Debating Theory and Practice in the American Religious ‘Marketplace’”, Platforms and Prayer Books: Theological and Liturgical Perspectives on Reform Judaism, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, April 2002.

“Responding to the New Reality,” Congress Monthly, January-February 2002.

“The Educational Crisis in American Reform Judaism”, Journal of Beliefs and Values, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2001.

“Conflicting Visions of the Reform Movement in the United States Today,” introduction to Contemporary Debates in American Reform Judaism: Conflicting Visions, Routledge, 2001.

“A View from America: Thoughts at the New Millennium,” Jewish Affairs, Vol. 56, No. 1, 2001.

“The Rabbinic Life,” CCAR Newsletter, January 2001.

“Reform Judaism,” The Companion to Judaism, Volume I, edited by Jacob Neusner, Blackwell Publishing, 2000.


“Reform Judaism: Documents,” The Companion to Judaism: Readers’ Guide, Volume II, edited by Jacob Neusner, Blackwell Publishing, 2000.

“A Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism: The American Reform Movement’s Most Recent Debate,” The Australian Journal of Jewish Studies, Vol. 14, 2000.

“The New American Reform Pittsburgh Platform of 1999,” Jewish Spectator, Winter 2000.

“A Liberal Rabbi’s High Holiday Reflections,” Jewish Spectator, Vol. 65, No. 1, Summer 2000.

“Reform Jewish Theology and the Sociology of Liberal Religion in America: The Platforms as Response to the Perception of Socio-Religious Crisis,” Modern Judaism, Oxford University Press, Vol. 20, No. 1, February 2000.

“The 1999 Pittsburgh Platform and Its Impact on American Reform Judaism,” Scottish Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2, December 1999.


“Proposed New Principles Can Stimulate a Beneficial Debate about Reform Judaism,” Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, January 8, 1999.


“Parshat Bo: The Plague of Darkness in the Land of Egypt,” January 10, 2019.

“Parshat Yitro: How much uniformity do we need in modern Judaism?,” January 16, 2014.

“Parshat B’shalach: Why did so many Israelites refuse to leave Egypt?,” January 8, 2014.

“Parshat Bo: Renewing ourselves and advancing through the contemplation of wisdom,” December 29, 2013.

“Parshat Vaera: Do we progressive Jews believe in the resurrection of the dead?,” December 25, 2013.

“Reform Judaism Can Help Modern Jews Understand the World,” August 21, 2013.


“Mishneh Torah,” Milestone Documents of World Religions, Vol. 2, 2010.


Can a rabbi marry someone of another religion? Debates of the American Reform movement whether intermarried rabbis can lead Reform Congregations,” Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 32, Issue 1, 2017.

“Who Is a Jew: Patrilineal Descent,” My Jewish Learning, archived ‘Interfaith’ feature, Spring, 2008. 

“Colourful Communities” (Increasing Racial Diversity in the American Synagogue), Manna—Journal of the Sternberg Centre for Judaism at the Manor House, Spring 2003.

“The Determination of Jewish Identity Below the Mason-Dixon Line: Crossing the Boundary From Gentile to Jew in the Nineteenth Century South,” Journal of Jewish Studies, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Vol. 52, No. 1, Spring 2001.

“Millions of Converts?”  Manna—Journal of the Sternberg Centre for Judaism at the Manor House, Winter 2000.

“Opening the Gates of the Jewish Community”, Conservative Judaism, Vol. 52, No 4, Summer 2000.

"Judaism and Intermarriage:  A Discussion in Nineteenth-Century California," Western States Jewish History, Vol. 31, No. 4, Summer 1999.

"Conversion to Judaism: A Historical Perspective," Judaism, Vol. 48, No. 3, Summer 1999.

  • Lead article, with responses by Harold Schulweis, Ephraim Buchwald, and Steven Lerner.

“Rabbi Samuel Freuder as a Christian Missionary: American Protestant Premillennialism and an Apostate Returner, 1891-1924,” American Jewish Archives Journal, 50th Anniversary Issue, Vol. 50, No. 1 & 2, 1998.

“Intermarriage and Conversion to Judaism in Early American Orthodoxy,” Tradition, Vol. 31, No. 4, Summer 1997.

“W. E. Todd’s Attempt to Convert to Judaism and Study for the Reform Rabbinate in 1896,” American Jewish History, Vol. 83, No. 4, December 1995.


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