Rabbi Yoffe, head of the Reform Movement, had a great idea: wouldn’t it be nice if Jews celebrated a day of the week where they didn’t work and distinguished it as a day of rest? Perhaps even God would do such a thing if he had a really busy week. And wouldnt’ we be able to have better sex that way?. As Yoffe put it:

Reform Jews are considering Shabbat because they need Shabbat..In our 24/7 culture, the boundary between work time and leisure time has been swept away, and the results are devastating. Do we really want to live in a world where we make love in half the time and cook every meal in the microwave?

(If we had two Shabbats perhaps we could make love in double or triple the time…but that’s a thought for antoher time). Joffe was adamant that the new Shabbat observance won’t just be an adoption of Orthodox practice:

Yoffie’s call for increased Shabbat observance reflects a growing embrace of traditions once rejected by the movement. At the same time, Yoffie said the Shabbat observance he envisions “will not mean some kind of neo-frumkeit,” or “an endless list of Shabbat prohibitions.” It will reflect instead, a unique Reform approach.

“It will mean… approaching Shabbat with the creativity that has always distinguished Reform Judaism,” said Yoffie. “It will mean emphasizing the ‘Thou shalts’ of Shabbat candles and Kiddush, rest and study, prayer and community – rather than the ‘Thou shalt nots.'”

In challenging congregations to move forward with these initiatives, Yoffie suggested two approaches: The appointment of a Shabbat Morning Task Force to study and recommend how Shabbat morning worship might be reimagined, and the formation of a second group, a Shabbat Chavura, that will come together for three to four months to create a Shabbat observance in an authentically Reform way.

Ironically enough, Muffti can’t imagine the task force coming up with prohibitions stringent enough to use a microwave…

Source: Jpost

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  • Studies have shown that the average act of intercourse actually takes 2.5 minutes, but that people taking part in those studies reported an estimated average 18 minutes. Apparently, the brain switches off the ability to measure time then.

  • Become a MD and watch volunteering couples behind either one of those one-way see-through mirrors or videotape them.

  • G-d, what a tool.

    Only someone who has never really experienced Shabbat could possibly utter such complete and utter rubbish.

    “We want Shabbat but don’t mistake us for frum Yidden, G-d forbid.”


    Hey, Tom. Long time no hear.

  • Hi Tom.

    What the poor guy, Rabbi Yoffe, doesn’t realize, is that without the Shalt-Nots, there is no space reserved for the Thou-Shalts. Without rigorous prohibition, one just does answer the phone a little, check email a little, run an errand a little, and there goes your special day. Here is how it works: first you “remember” Shabbat without doing anything about it, and later, a lot later, you start to “protect and defend”. It is tremendously rewarding in a thousand ways.

    If he lets it get too orthodox, the poor guy might be out of a job, in plain English. He is defending his brand. And nobody likes to feel he has been wrong.

    He will have the highly interesting experience of inching toward full observance, like a lot of people. That’s great. This is very positive!! Great post, GM!

  • yeah Tom! Welcome! In fairness to the participants, Muffti imagines that knowing you are being watched probably effects performance. Though he’s not sure why it affects performance estimates.

  • Shabbat! What a concept! What will the Reform Movement come up with next? Some kind of annual day of atonement? Perhaps some kind of wacky 8-day festival where we could all eat potato pancakes and light candles. I can’t wait for their next innovation!

  • Because probably you can’t wait for it to be over if people are watching you. Two and a half minutes feels like eighteen-makes sense to me.

  • Tom, were they professionals? I won’t post a link, but there are tools to extend the process as well as medications that can be injected (I’ve got a friend who gets those prescribed after he broke his spine in a sports accident and is paralyzed from the waist down).

  • Yet another good reason to f*ck to music: if the same song is still on, you know it ain’t been no 18 minutes. Unless you are doing it to pink floyd. But then you got different problems…

  • I am perplexed by the speech but not suprised. Groups of unhappy reform kids are asking why cant shabbat be as peaceful as it is with other jews.

    But the answer is not in prohibitions.

    Shabbat in theory offers us a chance on a weekly basis to connect with Hashem in a deep and meaningful way, that is usually not possible in the busy work a day week.

    Also, it affords families the chance to get together, learn together, worship together.

    And guests! It builds community to have shabbat each week together.


  • Is this guy for real? Reform Jews are “considering” Shabbat? Perhaps they might “consider” Jews marrying Jews, or “consider” eating kosher, or even “consider” fasting on Yom Kippur. Reform Judaism never fails to amaze me!

  • Okay, I’m officially in the other corner. This is a great idea and one that has been needed. What is wrong with the Reform movement seeking to find a bridge between their current practices and a more traditional practice? And what’s wrong, within this context, with seeking to find the positives in Shabbat instead of focusing on the prohibitions? Is it that it’s not Jewish enough? It’s Jewish enough for most Jews and is actually a way to bring many Jews back into some form of practice and attachment to their heritage.

  • I have to agree that Pink Floyd would be a mood killer. But music? Yes!! Engaging all the senses? Yes!! Showers, ylang ylang anything, clean sheets, fireplaces, wine? Yes!!Yes!!Yes!!

    And in keeping the theme Jewlicious, isn’t all this kind of stuff that extra mitzvah of beautifying a mitzvah? I think it qualifies, doesn’t it? Seriously.

  • Well, we know you don’t keep Shabbat, Middle. So you can understand this guy’s position better.

    But the chutzpah is just unbelieveable.

    “We are considering giving Shabbat a try. We think a day of rest sounds like an interesting idea. I wonder why we didn’t think of it before. But we don’t want it to be too, you know, shabbesdich. People might think we’re frum, and we can’t have that.”

    The guy knows his brand of “Judaism” is a sham, a joke, and a complete and utter failure. Reform Jews don’t stay Jews and he knows it. So he needs to do something. So of course he’s going to give tradition (I can just hear Tevye now) a try, so long as it’s not too, you know, traditional.

    I hope it works, I really do. The more observant Reform Jews get, the better. It might lead them to proper Yiddishkeit, G-d willing. The pintele Yid will not be denied.

    But then, yeah, Yoffe will be out of a job. He’s going to have to be careful and not let it get out of hand.

  • I don’t see the point in dissing Rabbi Yoffe.

    He is speaking from his own valid experience.

    But I do agree with Jewish Mother – without the binding prohibition of certain things, you cannot establish a day devoted to the positives.

    That’s what Yoffe is responding to – the 24/7 crush. So how do you push back against all those demands to make room for a Shabbat experience?

    This is where Reform’s open-ended approach runs into trouble.

  • Let Muffti be clear, he was merely chiding the reform movement on account of switching ideals based on no religious principle whatsoever. He doens’t think Yoffe is dis-worthy, nor that reform is dis-worthy. he just thought that it was funny that they were working so hard to re-create shabbat while taking every pain to ensure that it was nothing like an orthodox shabbat.

  • Actually Muffti, they do have religious principles guiding them. You guys should stop disrespecting a large and vibrant part of the Jewish population. It makes you look foolish. Many Reform Jews take their faith and practice pretty seriously and thousands upon thousands of them dedicate themselves to this movement and to living a Jewish life.

    A Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism
    Oct. 27, 2004
    Adopted in Pittsburgh – 1999
    Adopted at the 1999 Pittsburgh Convention
    Central Conference of American Rabbis
    May 1999 – Sivan 5759

    On three occasions during the last century and a half, the Reform rabbinate has adopted comprehensive statements to help guide the thought and practice of our movement. In 1885, fifteen rabbis issued the Pittsburgh Platform, a set of guidelines that defined Reform Judaism for the next fifty years. A revised statement of principles, the Columbus Platform, was adopted by the Central Conference of American Rabbis in 1937. A third set of rabbinic guidelines, the Centenary Perspective, appeared in 1976 on the occasion of the centenary of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Today, when so many individuals are striving for religious meaning, moral purpose and a sense of community, we believe it is our obligation as rabbis once again to state a set of principles that define Reform Judaism in our own time.

    Throughout our history, we Jews have remained firmly rooted in Jewish tradition, even as we have learned much from our encounters with other cultures. The great contribution of Reform Judaism is that it has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt, and to bring faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship.

    This “Statement of Principles” affirms the central tenets of Judaism – God, Torah and Israel – even as it acknowledges the diversity of Reform Jewish beliefs and practices. It also invites all Reform Jews to engage in a dialogue with the sources of our tradition, responding out of our knowledge, our experience and our faith. Thus we hope to transform our lives through (kedushah), holiness.

    We affirm the reality and oneness of God, even as we may differ in our understanding of the Divine presence.

    We affirm that the Jewish people is bound to God by an eternal (b’rit), covenant, as reflected in our varied understandings of Creation, Revelation and Redemption.

    We affirm that every human being is created (b’tzelem Elohim), in the image of God, and that therefore every human life is sacred.

    We regard with reverence all of God’s creation and recognize our human responsibility for its preservation and protection.

    We encounter God’s presence in moments of awe and wonder, in acts of justice and compassion, in loving relationships and in the experiences of everyday life.

    We respond to God daily: through public and private prayer, through study and through the performance of other (mitzvot), sacred obligations — (bein adam la Makom), to God, and (bein adam la-chaveiro), to other human beings.

    We strive for a faith that fortifies us through the vicissitudes of our lives — illness and healing, transgression and repentance, bereavement and consolation, despair and hope.

    We continue to have faith that, in spite of the unspeakable evils committed against our people and the sufferings endured by others, the partnership of God and humanity will ultimately prevail.

    We trust in our tradition’s promise that, although God created us as finite beings, the spirit within us is eternal.

    In all these ways and more, God gives meaning and purpose to our lives.

    We affirm that Torah is the foundation of Jewish life.

    We cherish the truths revealed in Torah, God’s ongoing revelation to our people and the record of our people’s ongoing relationship with God.

    We affirm that Torah is a manifestation of (ahavat olam), God’s eternal love for the Jewish people and for all humanity.

    We affirm the importance of studying Hebrew, the language of Torah and Jewish liturgy, that we may draw closer to our people’s sacred texts.

    We are called by Torah to lifelong study in the home, in the synagogue and in every place where Jews gather to learn and teach. Through Torah study we are called to (mitzvot), the means by which we make our lives holy.

    We are committed to the ongoing study of the whole array of (mitzvot) and to the fulfillment of those that address us as individuals and as a community. Some of these (mitzvot), sacred obligations, have long been observed by Reform Jews; others, both ancient and modern, demand renewed attention as the result of the unique context of our own times.

    We bring Torah into the world when we seek to sanctify the times and places of our lives through regular home and congregational observance. Shabbat calls us to bring the highest moral values to our daily labor and to culminate the workweek with (kedushah), holiness, (menuchah), rest and (oneg), joy. The High Holy Days call us to account for our deeds. The Festivals enable us to celebrate with joy our people’s religious journey in the context of the changing seasons. The days of remembrance remind us of the tragedies and the triumphs that have shaped our people’s historical experience both in ancient and modern times. And we mark the milestones of our personal journeys with traditional and creative rites that reveal the holiness in each stage of life.

    We bring Torah into the world when we strive to fulfill the highest ethical mandates in our relationships with others and with all of God’s creation. Partners with God in ( tikkun olam), repairing the world, we are called to help bring nearer the messianic age. We seek dialogue and joint action with people of other faiths in the hope that together we can bring peace, freedom and justice to our world. We are obligated to pursue (tzedek), justice and righteousness, and to narrow the gap between the affluent and the poor, to act against discrimination and oppression, to pursue peace, to welcome the stranger, to protect the earth’s biodiversity and natural resources, and to redeem those in physical, economic and spiritual bondage. In so doing, we reaffirm social action and social justice as a central prophetic focus of traditional Reform Jewish belief and practice. We affirm the (mitzvah) of (tzedakah), setting aside portions of our earnings and our time to provide for those in need. These acts bring us closer to fulfilling the prophetic call to translate the words of Torah into the works of our hands.

    In all these ways and more, Torah gives meaning and purpose to our lives.

    We are Israel, a people aspiring to holiness, singled out through our ancient covenant and our unique history among the nations to be witnesses to God’s presence. We are linked by that covenant and that history to all Jews in every age and place.

    We are committed to the (mitzvah) of (ahavat Yisrael), love for the Jewish people, and to (k’lal Yisrael), the entirety of the community of Israel. Recognizing that (kol Yisrael arevim zeh ba-zeh), all Jews are responsible for one another, we reach out to all Jews across ideological and geographical boundaries.

    We embrace religious and cultural pluralism as an expression of the vitality of Jewish communal life in Israel and the Diaspora.

    We pledge to fulfill Reform Judaism’s historic commitment to the complete equality of women and men in Jewish life.

    We are an inclusive community, opening doors to Jewish life to people of all ages, to varied kinds of families, to all regardless of their sexual orientation, to (gerim), those who have converted to Judaism, and to all individuals and families, including the intermarried, who strive to create a Jewish home.

    We believe that we must not only open doors for those ready to enter our faith, but also to actively encourage those who are seeking a spiritual home to find it in Judaism.

    We are committed to strengthening the people Israel by supporting individuals and families in the creation of homes rich in Jewish learning and observance.

    We are committed to strengthening the people Israel by making the synagogue central to Jewish communal life, so that it may elevate the spiritual, intellectual and cultural quality of our lives.

    We are committed to (Medinat Yisrael), the State of Israel, and rejoice in its accomplishments. We affirm the unique qualities of living in (Eretz Yisrael), the land of Israel, and encourage (aliyah), immigration to Israel.

    We are committed to a vision of the State of Israel that promotes full civil, human and religious rights for all its inhabitants and that strives for a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors.

    We are committed to promoting and strengthening Progressive Judaism in Israel, which will enrich the spiritual life of the Jewish state and its people.

    We affirm that both Israeli and Diaspora Jewry should remain vibrant and interdependent communities. As we urge Jews who reside outside Israel to learn Hebrew as a living language and to make periodic visits to Israel in order to study and to deepen their relationship to the Land and its people, so do we affirm that Israeli Jews have much to learn from the religious life of Diaspora Jewish communities.

    We are committed to furthering Progressive Judaism throughout the world as a meaningful religious way of life for the Jewish people.

    In all these ways and more, Israel gives meaning and purpose to our lives.

    (Baruch she-amar ve-haya ha-olam).
    Praised be the One through whose word all things came to be.
    May our words find expression in holy actions.
    May they raise us up to a life of meaning devoted to God’s service
    And to the redemption of our world.

  • Thanks themiddle

    It isn’t uncommon for “open-minded” folks to get all bunched up when they feel as if thier ideals are under attack.

  • TM, Muffti didn’t mean that they have no principles 🙂 Muffti’s father is reform and he’s certainly not into dissing him or the people he prays with. He meant that the decision to upgrade shabbat doesn’t seem to be driven by any particular religious principle: the interpretation of the principles in the past has always made it so that Shabbat was not particularly important. What seens odd to Muffti is to introduce a religious holiday for what seem like very practical reasons: we’re all so damned busy. It sounds more like a reason for a weekly civic holiday.

    Muffti doens’t really care and he doesn’t have a dog in this race: people should practice relgiously any way they see fit (that doesn’t harm others, etc. etc.) Go nuts! From Muffti’s point of view its all a bunch of mumbo jumbo either way.

  • Philosophers’ words that went down in history:

    “Sapere aude.” (Kant)

    “Cogito ergo sum.” (Descartes)

    “zoon politikon” (Aristotle)

    “[…] its [sic] all a bunch of mumbo jumbo either way.” (Grandmuffti)

  • Hee hee! That is like something out of “Plato & a Platypus Walk Into A Bar” which is a real book about philosophy.

    GM is right. GM is SUCH A JEW.

    Respect for all. It’s tough all over.

  • Yeah I read this same bit in the LA
    Jewish Journal.

    Its like this “Rabbi” is playing with his
    Brit… uuh, if I play with it, I can watch
    my brit grow and it will give me an
    uplifting feeling. Playing with the idea of
    Shabat observance…that is the
    covenant – Brit isn’t it?

    My Brit will get big just like those
    It seems like those Reform want to be
    sporting wood to prove thiers is just as
    big as those “neo-frumkeit”