Home  Principles & Statements  Positions of the ACJ  Articles  DonationsAbout Us  Contact Us  Links                                         

Council Letter

S. Naman & B.H. Levy, Jr.
January 15, 2008

Dear Friends of the American Council for Judaism,  
We are writing to you, as supporters of the Council, to inform you of a major development. As you know, since 1942, the ACJ has been the national advocate for both an alternative perspective on our relationship as American Jews to the State of Israel, as well as for the promotion of the historic worship traditions and universal spiritual principles of Classical Reform Judaism. While these two missions are related in a number of important ways, they are also distinct and embrace differing interpretations and implementation strategies.  
Although we have made major progress over the past two years in the Council’s renewed focus on the religious priorities of Classical Reform, we have also recognized that the interests of those who remain committed to the more political orientation of a dissent and critique of Jewish nationalism and a “return to Zion” for all Jews, have not been as forcefully addressed. At its Annual Board Meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on November 17-18, the Board of Directors of the American Council for Judaism reached a strategic decision to separate into two totally distinct organizations as of January 31, 2008.  
To this end we are announcing the establishment of a new, independent body to promote the historic progressive religious values of American Reform, The Society for Classical Reform Judaism (SCRJ). The SCRJ has been formally organized and incorporated with its own Board and staff, with Rabbi Howard A. Berman as its Executive Director. The Council will be led by ACJ President Stephen L. Naman along with a number of current ACJ Board members and Allan C. Brownfeld as Editor of its publications. The ACJ and SCRJ will be completely separate, each focused on their respective missions and with independent Boards, leadership, and financing. While the ACJ and SCRJ will be totally unique organizations, we want to emphasize that this is a cooperative and amicable decision, based on a shared vision of the best way to pursue these two differing missions. Even though their missions and programs will be distinct, their purposes and fundamentals are not mutually exclusive and both will hopefully be of interest and meaning to you.  
The goals of the SCRJ will include the preservation and creative nurturing of Classical Reform principles and worship traditions, including a primarily English language liturgy and the preservation of our Movement’s great heritage of music and preaching. We will uphold the Prophetic commitment to the struggle for social justice that has always inspired our Movement. We will also affirm the centrality of the American experience in the shaping of our Jewish identity and commitment, celebrating the contributions our faith has made to the founding and nurturing of democracy in the United States. While affirming the historic ties and spiritual meaning of the State of Israel for the Jewish faith, we embrace the broad range of opinion that exists on these complex issues. Another important priority will be an active outreach and warm support for interfaith families, in the belief that the broad, inclusive and universal spiritual values of historic American Reform Judaism, are uniquely relevant and empowering for this ever growing number of our young people.  
The ACJ will redirect its focus on political and policy advocacy in support of all Americans of the Jewish faith, and their rights, responsibilities, and obligations as citizens of the United States of America and participants in the Jewish tradition. While recognizing the historical foundations of the Jewish religion in the land of Israel, and since 1948, Israel’s role as a humanitarian refuge as well as a homeland for those who choose to live there, the ACJ does not accept the position of Jewish nationalism and a “return to Zion” for all Jews. The ACJ affirms the right of all Jews to determine what role, if any, Israel plays in their Judaism and to express their individual, personal opinions regarding Israel without being subjected to inappropriate, unfounded, and mean spirited political pressure and social harassment. The ACJ represents and encourages open dialogue in the constitutional and democratic traditions of our country and faith. The ACJ supports peace, civil rights, security, and democracy for all those in the Middle East.  
Please note that all contributions made to either organization prior to February 15, 2008 will be divided between the two organizations and all contributions made after that date will be solely for the organizations to which they are made payable. The office for the SCRJ will remain in Boston, MA and the new office for the ACJ will be located in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. In the near future you will receive correspondence from both the ACJ and the SCRJ, providing you with pertinent information regarding future mailings, publications, our new websites, membership opportunities and contributions.  
We want to express our deep appreciation for your generous and loyal support in the past. We hope that you will look favorably upon this momentous and exciting decision to create the SCRJ, and that you will want to support and participate in the activities of both the ACJ and SCRJ. We wish you all the best for the coming year.  
Stephen L. Naman, President  
American Council for Judaism  
B.H. Levy, Jr., President  
Society for Classical Reform Judaism

< return to article list
© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.