The idea of a *synod to provide authoritative guidance and meet the current needs of Jews in the era of *Emancipation led to the holding of rabbinical conferences in Germany in the mid-19th century. A convention
In 1868 24 rabbis met in Kassel to prepare such a "synod" and to decide on a number of liturgical reforms. The "synod" assembling at Leipzig in 1869 consisted of 49 lay and 34 rabbinical delegates from 60 communities. Presided over by Moritz *Lazarus, it dealt with Jewish education, liturgical reforms, and other questions. The Orthodox and Frankel's sympathizers were not represented. Two years later, the "synod" of Augsburg was attended by representatives from only 30 communities. Its resolutions dealt with marriage, ḥaliẓah, and other subjects, but the stand taken on the Sabbath was more conservative than before. Again, 133 Orthodox rabbis published a strong protest, asserting that the participants were unfit to hold religious office. Neither "synod" came up to the expectations of its own promoters, and no further meeting of this kind was convened in Germany.
[Ze'ev Wilhelm Falk]
Nevertheless, agitation for synods continued especially in America, by Isaac Mayer *Wise in 1881, and at three sessions of the Central Conference of American Rabbis in 1904–06. Solomon *Schechter, leader of U.S. *Conservative Jewry, opposed synods as encouraging sacerdotalism and creating the danger of a schism within Orthodoxy. The Reform movement in the United States, nevertheless, adopted in 1887 its Pittsburgh *Platform, laying down the principles of classic Reform. It reversed its stance in 1937 in Columbus, when it reaffirmed its adherence to Hebrew, Zionism, and other traditional values. In 1961 the Federation of *Reconstructionist Congregations and Fellowships, at a conference of lay and rabbinic delegates, adopted a guide for Jewish ritual in line with their humanist philosophy of Judaism. Among certain Orthodox circles there has been agitation for a Sanhedrin to legislate for world Jewry, but the difficulties involved appeared insuperable.
See also *Bet Din; *Chief Rabbi; *Synods.
D. Philipson, Reform Movement in Judaism (19312, repr. 1967), 140–224; W.G. Plaut, Rise of Reform Judaism (1963).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.