Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion has launched the digital publication of essays from their faculty reflecting on contributions from Reform Judaism to Covid-19.
HUC President Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., initiated this collection of essays, by posing the question to more than thirty scholars at the college, “What can Reform Judaism as a philosophy offer to help us make sense of our current situation?” Rehfeld added that the objective was not to “develop a single view of what Reform theology or philosophy is or must be, [but]… to demonstrate the continued substantive vitality of Reform Judaism to face our current crises.” Dr. Rehfeld offered the introductory essay: Points of Inflection and Infection: On the authenticity of Reform Judaism and its use in responding to our current crisis.
The essays on the website are divided into three categories: descriptions (historical and sociological analyses of the current situation in broad perspective); inscriptions (close readings of texts from the Jewish tradition with particular resonance at this time); and prescriptions (theological responses to the current situation and its implications). These are intended to address the opening questions about how Reform Judaism can bring meaning to topics including “the uncertainty of the future; the seeming arbitrariness of death and disease; the persistence of injustice, bias and hate; the role of the individual in a community when cooperation and self-sacrifice are required for the good of all; the need for religious and institutional innovation in the absence of physical congregation; and the social justice dimensions of a pandemic whose victims are once again the most socially and economically vulnerable.”
There are currently twelve essays available online; more essays will be released over the next several weeks.