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A False Dichotomy

Parashat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 2017 Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
A False Dichotomy?
We Reform Jews pride ourselves on our ethics; so much so, in fact, that one of the founding documents of the American Reform movement, the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform stated:
“We hold that all such Mosaic and rabbinical laws as regulate diet, priestly purity, and dress originated in ages and under the influence of ideas entirely foreign to our present mental and spiritual state. They fail to impress the modern Jew with a spirit of priestly holiness; their observance in our days is apt rather to obstruct than to further modern spiritual elevation.”
To sum up: the Classical Reform position has been – not without controversy – to dismiss ritual law over the centrality of ethical law. 
Reform Judaism calls us to constantly re-evaluate our relationship with our sacred sources and how we interpret and practice them.Hence, it is little surprise that in practice, a great deal has changed between 1885 and 2017. Once upon a ti…