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November 22, 2014 | 29th Cheshvan 5775

RESOLUTION ON REFORM TEFILAH

Executive Committee
Union of American Hebrew Congregations
February 7, 2000

RESOLUTION ON REFORM TEFILAH

BACKGROUND
Meaningful and spiritually uplifting worship for all age groups is a major challenge facing Reform congregations. In light of changes that have emerged in Reform worship over the past 25-30 years, it is incumbent upon our congregations to re-examine their worship experience, making substantial and significant changes where necessary.

Worship reform needs to begin with knowledgeable lay leaders working in partnership with rabbis and cantors. We need to encourage our lay leadership, ritual committees, and clergy to experience a variety of worship models by visiting other congregations. Ongoing dialogue about issues of prayer and worship needs to be encouraged among congregational board members, professionals and members of ritual committees.

We also recognize that the ability of congregants to participate fully in the worship service is enhanced by a basic knowledge of Hebrew and the use of participatory, warm and accessible music.

THEREFORE, in order to make worship and prayer more meaningful experiences for Reform Jews, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations calls upon each of our congregations to:

  1. Undertake an in-depth evaluation of worship in the congregation,

    1. Devoting a major segment of two or more upcoming board meetings to discussing a worship agenda for the congregation;
    2. Encouraging the lay leadership, the ritual committee and the congregational clergy to undertake a serious evaluation of worship in the congregation by:

      1. Visiting, wherever possible, two or more other congregations to observe different worship models;
      2. Studying the history and development of Jewish liturgical music with the cantor or other Jewish music professional with the goal of working together to ensure vibrant, spiritual, inspiring and community building music in keeping with the traditions and aspirations of the Jewish people and the individual synagogue;
      3. Studying the prayer and worship experiences at UAHC camps and at NFTY and synagogue youth programs;
      4. Examining and, where appropriate, restructuring the congregation's Ritual/Religious Practice/Religious Living Committee using guidelines prepared by the UAHC.

  2. Participate in iWorship, a Movement-wide, on-line dialogue on prayer and worship experiences;

  3. Undertake programs encouraging adult congregants to acquire fundamental reading skills in Hebrew, using Hebrew language primers that have been developed by the Union;

  4. Urge the Union to provide small congregations that lack a rabbi and/or cantor with necessary materials and training sessions to enable them to enhance their worship experience;

  5. Urge the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the American Conference of Cantors to join with the Union in sponsoring retreats for rabbis and cantors to examine different models of worship and help them develop the scholarly and professional dimensions of worship.

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