CRT in the Press

The Society for Classical Reform Judaism, Renewing the Heritage of American Liberal Judaisn for the 21st Century

We want to inform our members of two important recent developments in the work of the Society of Classical Reform Judaism – national voice of advocacy for the historic liberal spiritual values and worship traditions of our national Reform movement. Rabbi Berman is the Executive Director of the SCRJ, and our members Rabbi Devon Lerner and Merle Marquis serve on the Society’s staff. Continue reading….

At the recent national Biennial Convention of our broader national body, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Society presented a program on the theme “Beyond the Warm Welcome: Congregational Inclusivity as a Core Reform Jewish Value” This learning session, which attracted about 125 leaders of congregations throughout the country, focused on the broad, inclusive ideals of the Classical Reform understanding of Jewish
worship and identity as a resource for the inclusion of interfaith and multicultural families and spiritual seekers of many backgrounds. A panel of temple leaders, including our own Todd Katzman and Marc LaCasse, shared their own personal experiences of discovery and deep commitment to this approach. The full account of this important program- and the narratives of these very moving stories – are included in the upcoming issue of The Reform Advocate, the journal of the Society. All members of CRT receive this publication – you may also access it online at 

In addition – we want to share the wonderful news of the recent dramatic and historic developments in Jerusalem, with the first egalitarian, gender-inclusive Reform Service at the Kotelthe Western Wall:


Historic First Reform Service at Western Wall!!!
By Rabbi Devon Lerner
On Thursday, February 25, Rabbi Ada Zavidov (center in photo above), of Kehilat Har-El, Jerusalem, and Rabbi Zachary Shapiro (left), of Temple Akiba, Culver City, California, led the first official Reform Worship Service at Western Wall, using B’Hadrat Kodesh. This volume, published in Israel by the Society for Classical Reform Judaism and Har-El Congregation of Jerusalem, and edited by Rabbis Howard A. Berman and Ada Zavidov, is a modern Hebrew translation of historic English passages from the SCRJ’s Union Prayer Book- Sinai Edition, Revised. It was conceived to provide a worship resource for Israeli Reform Movement, enabling it to embrace the shared heritage of Progressive Judaism around the world.

Responding to this occasion, Rabbi Howard Berman, SCRJ Executive Director said: “Over a hundred American rabbis – already experiencing this emotional historical moment, were introduced to our work and influence in an unprecedented way. I cannot overstate the immense significance of this for the Society – in “one fell swoop”, more rabbis and leaders have encountered the renewed vitality and vision of the Classical Reform renaissance than we have ever achieved in any other setting. The broadened awareness and appreciation for our mission that they will bring back to their congregations throughout the country, will be immeasurable, and will have lasting effects. And as the attached photos reveal, all of the national leaders – Rabbis Rick Jacobs of the URJ, Steve Fox of the CCAR, Aaron Panken of HUC, and Denise Eger, CCAR President, were all there and sharing in this experience.

“The significance this (of the opening of the new egalitarian section of the wall and of the use of B’handrat Kodesh for the first official Reform Worship Service), added Rabbi Berman, is reflected in the proclamation this morning by leading Orthodox rabbis in Jerusalem, of a Day of Mourning and Fasting for the desecration of the Wall by the Reform ” heretics and agents of Satan…”

Click here to read the Jerusalem Post article about the event and to watch a video clip of the gathering.

Click here to learn more about Kehilat Har-El and Rabbi Ada Zavidov in Jerusalem.



Rabbi Berman and CRT members bearing our Torah Scrolls led the interfaith procession of Back Bay congregations in the Memorial Ceremony on Boylston Street on April 21, following the Marathon bombings.

Following the tragic attack at the Boston Marathon, our Temple was deeply involved in the efforts of the Back Bay religious community to reach out and support the people of our city. Joining our fellow congregations of the neighborhood where the events occurred, we were privileged to be a Jewish presence in the many interfaith gatherings and relief efforts that were organized to help and counsel the runners in the hours following the attacks, and to offer opportunities for all Bostonians to find comfort and encouragement in the midst of the fears and sadness.

For the text of Rabbi Berman’s sermon to our congregation and Emmanuel Church on the weekend following the bombing: Reflections_of_Remembrance_and_Healing.

Following those Services on Sunday, April 21, Central Reform Temple and Emmanuel Church joined a procession of all Back Bay congregations to Boylston Street, for a gathering of “reclaiming and reconsecrating the defiled streets of our city.” The procession was led by Temple members bearing our Torah Scrolls, alongside the Cross carried by Emmanuel clergy. We converged at the memorial site, and joined in singing and silence. Hundreds of people stood together in this powerful moment of remembrance and healing. This symbol of the shared unity, faith, and determination of our city was captured by news media throughout the world. Links to many of the news articles can be found below.

We need the grounding of faith and hope at this time, and to be together as a community. We hope that we can begin the healing, and share our presence and support, as our beloved City of Boston moves forward.

Please click on titles to link to article.

Central Reform Temple Confronts the Boston Marathon Attacks

Groups to meet, pray at Marathon barricade in Back Bay
Boston Globe, April 20, 2013

Boston bombings:  Marathon finish line becomes a place of worship
Los Angeles Times, April 21, 2013

Healing to begin on Boylston
Boston Herald, April 21, 2013

Singing, healing during Marathon bombing services
Boston Metro, April 21, 2013

Sunday brings faith and healing in Boston
CNN, April 21, 2013

Rabbi leads interfaith service at Boston Marathon bombing site, April 22, 2013

Boston rabbi organizes interfaith prayer at site of Boston Marathon explosions
The Algemeiner, April 23, 2013

The healing begins-What Boston hospitals learned from Israel
New Jersey Jewish News April 24, 2013

Rabbi Berman Letter to Boston Globe on Women’s Religious Equality

Women’s strides set Judiaism apart (Letter from Rabbi Berman)
Boston Globe, April 21, 2013