AMERICAN REFORM MOVEMENT: political aspirations of the Zionists were contrary to the universalistic spirit of Judaism and that Zionism threatened Jewry in that it called into question the loyalty of the Jews to the countries in which they lived

American Reform Movement opposition to Zionism as summarized  by Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok (2010): “The American Reformers were even more downright. Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900) , the first president of the American Reform rabbinical college declared: “We denounce the whole question of the Jewish State as foreign to the spirit of the modern Jew of this land, who looks upon America as his Palestine and whose interests are centred here.” These early Reformers believed that the salvation of the Jews lay not in the return to the Promised Land, but in the emergence of a liberal, educated and pluralistic society”

Many members of the American Reform Movement persisted in their opposition to Zionism right up until World War II. As late as 1942, a number of American anti-Zionists gathered together to formulate a program of action. This body asserted that the political aspirations of the Zionists were contrary to the universalistic spirit of Judaism and that Zionism threatened Jewry in that it called into question the loyalty of the Jews to the countries in which they lived. Even after World War II, the American reform liturgy for the Passover meal ended not with “Next Year in Jerusalem”, but with “God Bless America!”

Reform Jews therefore objected to Zionism because it undermined Jewish allegiance to host nations and because it emphasized the ethnic, nationalistic spirit of Judaism” (Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok, “Judaism: A Beginner’s Guide”, Oneworld, 2010).

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