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What do Progressive Jews believe? What do Progressive Jews do? If anyone
were to attempt to answer these two questions authoritatively for all Progressive Jews,
that person's answer would have to be false. Why? Because one of the guiding principles of
Progressive Judaism is the autonomy of the individual. As a Progressive Jew, one has the
right to decide whether one can subscribe to this particular belief or to that particular
But there is a historic body of beliefs and practices that is recognized
as Jewish. We Jews have survived centuries of exile and persecution as well as centuries
of unparalleled spiritual and intellectual creativity because we have always thought of
ourselves as a people created "in the image of God," dedicated to
olamthe improvement of the world. And the particular beliefs and practices that have
traditionally identified us as Jews have enabled us not only to survive creatively but
also to connect with the God "who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to
reach this moment."
We Progressive Jews are heirs to this vast body of beliefs and practices.
We differ from more ritually observant Jews because we recognize that our sacred heritage
has evolved and adapted over the centuries and that it must continue to do so. And we also
recognize that if Judaism were not capable of evolution, of reform, it could not survive.
Progressive Judaism accepts and, in fact, encourages pluralism. Judaism
has never demanded uniformity of belief or practice. But we must never forget that whether
we are Reform, Progressive, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Modern Orthodox, or
Ultra-Orthodox, we are all an essential part of K'lal Yisraelthe worldwide community
of Jewry. All Jews have an obligation to study the traditions that have been entrusted to
us and to observe those mitzvotthose sacred and time-hallowed actsthat have
meaning for us today and that can ennoble our lives, as well as those of our families and
It is our
mitzvot that put us in touch with Abraham and Sarah; with Moses,
Hillel, and the Jews of fifth-century Babylonia, twelfth-century Spain, and
eighteenth-century Poland, and with the Jews of twentieth-century in Israel and the