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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.
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.
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 Jacob K. Shankman (1904–86) was the rabbi of Temple Israel of New Rochelle, New York, and a leader in Reform Judaism. Rabbi Howard A. Berman is the executive director of the Society for Classical Reform Judaism. He lectures at congregations throughout the United States on behalf of the society and teaches regularly at Hebrew Union College. Rabbi David Ellenson is chancellor and past president of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and is the author of Jewish Meaning in a World of Choice: Studies in Tradition and Modernity (JPS, 2014).