the first place, we are intensely desirous of having Judaism
play an important role in the spiritual life of mankind,
and we therefore refuse to view with equanimity the plight
in which Judaism finds itself today. We are not deceived
by the few sporadic signs of activity and interest in things
Jewish, because we know full well that they represent nothing
more than the momentum of Jewish life in the past. . . .
. . . we are agreed that the salvation of Judaism cannot
come either from Orthodoxy or from Reform. Orthodoxy is
altogether out of keeping with the march of human thought.
It has no regard for the world view of the contemporary
mind. Nothing can be more repugnant to the thinking man
of today than the fundamental doctrine of Orthodoxy, which
is that tradition is infallible. . . .
Our dissent from Reform Judaism is even more pronounced
than that from Orthodoxy. . . . The reason for this attitude
of ours toward Reform is that we are emphatically opposed
to the negation of Judaism. The principles and practices
of Reform Judaism, to our mind, make inevitably for the
complete disappearance of Jewish life. Reform Judaism represents
to us an absolute break with the Judaism of the past. .
In view of the fact that existing congregational and rabbinic
organizations seem to be insensible to the danger which
is threatening Judaism, and spend most of their time either
perfecting their machinery or listening to speeches full
of soothing banalities, it is imperative that something
be done immediately apart from those organizations to halt
the impending disaster to our religion.
In getting to work upon a program for the reconstruction
of Judaism we must take care not to miscalculate the magnitude
of the task before us. . . .
The adoption of the social viewpoint is an indispensable
prerequisite to a thoroughgoing revision of Jewish belief
and practice. That viewpoint will enable us to shift the
center of spiritual interest from the realm of abstract
dogmas and traditional codes of law to the pulsating life
of Israel. We will then realize that our problem is not
how to maintain beliefs or uphold laws, but how to enable
the Jewish people to function as a highly developed social
organism and to fulfill the spiritual powers that are latent
in it. . . .
In view of these considerations, I believe that a program
for the reconstruction of Judaism ought to include the following
three items: (1) The interpretation of Jewish tradition
in terms of present-day thought. (2) The fostering of the
social solidarity of the Jewish people through the upbuilding
of Palestine, and the establishment of Kehillahs [communities]
and communal centers in the Diaspora. (3) The formulation
of a code of Jewish practice so that every Jew may know
definitely what constitutes loyalty to Judaism.