Globe-trotter offers pluralism message

American Jews tend to take the existence of pluralism for granted, said Rabbi Uri Regev, on a recent stop in San Francisco.

The executive director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, Regev described the challenges Reform Jews face around the world. WUPJ serves as the umbrella organization of all Reform, Liberal, Progressive and Reconstructionist Jewish communities in some 40 countries worldwide.

He gave Germany as his prime example. The birthplace of Reform Judaism, Germany now it has the fastest-growing Jewish community in the world. Thanks to a liberal immigration policy for Jews from the former Soviet Union, its Jewish population has grown from approximately 30,000 in 1990 to 200,000 Jews today.

In Munich, members of the Orthodox congregation actually suggested to the mayor that the Reform community there had no connection to Judaism because men and women sit together during services and the movement ordains female rabbis.

While many think that Reform Judaism has no relevance for most Israelis, Regev said the facts on the ground prove that it is.

A Reform congregation in Haifa celebrated 200 b’nai mitzvah in the last year, with one Israeli rabbi single-handedly officiating at several each Shabbat.