Ethical Behavior for Reform Jewish Youth


As we approach the 21st Century, we celebrate the youth of our Reform Jewish community, including the thousands who participate in our congregational youth programs, and the Union's youth, camping, and Israel programs. Theses young people are extraordinary in their kindness and compassion, their love for Israel and their devotion to Judaism. We note with concern, however, that when it comes to their personal lives, many are often morally confused and morally adrift.

Subjected at an early age to cultural messages that glamorize sex, violence, consumerism, drugs and alcohol, many of our young people are seeking clarity and direction in these times of moral confusion. Our task as Reform Jews is to ensure that the UAHC and our synagogues play an important role in providing guidance by offering our youth a framework of moral order rooted in the wisdom of our tradition.

We must initiate a serious movement-wide discussion about moral and ethical issues as they relate to behavior, focusing on boundaries, accountability, responsibility, and discipline. Through sharing with our children and young people, and their families, the insights and ideals of Judaism and by speaking clearly of our expectations and moral aspirations, we will provide our youth with a sense of community, civility, and hope.

THEREFORE, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations call upon the Commission on Jewish Education, the Commission of Youth, the Commission on Social Action, and the Committee on Jewish Family Concerns, in consultation and partnership with the Central Conference of American Rabbis, North American Federation of Temple Youth, Women of Reform Judaism, North American Federation of Temple Brotherhoods, the National Association of Temple Educators, and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion to collectively develop by January 1, 1999 an educational program which focuses on ethics and behavior for Reform Jewish youth. This program, based on Jewish values, shall include curricula and study materials to be used in Reform movement camps, NFTY conclaves, and Israel trips, and shall be available to member congregations for use in religious schools and family education programs.