I've often wondered about the contradiction that is Reformism. On one hand, the movement has always functioned on a rejection of the authority of Jewish law as transmitted by our Sages throughout the millenia. On the other hand, a complete rejection means no sense of identity. If a Reformer doesn't want anything to do with Judaism, exactly how does he define himself as a Jew?
The head of the Reformers, one Eric Yoffe, seems to have noticed that recently. As carried in The Jerusalem Post:
"Judaism has expectations and demands, and in return it enriches your life. If it is just convenience, then it is not worth anything."
This sounds very nice, of course, and very un-Reform. Remember this is the movement that until recently referred to the Ten Commandments as the Ten Suggestions, a movement that tried to renew itself a few years ago but couldn't come up with anything actually authoritative because the whole basis of the movement is a rejection of external authority. Unfortunately, Yoffe's epiphany does not last much longer than the above quote thoughts. To wit:
"I am not asking that synagogue goers refrain from driving on Shabbat," said Yoffie. "Our congregants drive to get to synagogue so they are not going to give up driving. But I will ask them to pray Shabbat evening and Shabbat morning and to refrain from everyday work activities. "
"But we are not saying return to Jewish practice as Orthodox Jewry understands it. We are more selective of which of the 613 commandments we choose to keep. Many of those commandments reflected the values of the times in which they were made but do not reflect our times. We accept some and reject others. "
Right. So accept there are responsibilities to being Jewish but pick and choose what you want those responsiblities to be. Please explain then: If I'm choosing what mitzvos I want to practice and the final decision is up to me and no one else, how is this a real responsbility to Judaism? The only authority I'm accepting is myself and if I choose a different set of priorities tomorrow, I am just as free to jettison those mitzvos that I found so important today.
In the end, I still don't understand Reform except as a giant movement of convenient hypocrisy. May they see the error of their ways and return to the Torah fold speedily and in our days.