The Society for the Study of Jewish Theology
1. To Further a Philosophy of Traditional Judaism based on sound scholarship
In the Jewish religious world today there are two basic attitudes. One is represented by those who believe that Jewish observance depends on a fundamental interpretation of the Bible and the other by those who, unable to accept fundamentalism, argue that Jewish observance can no longer claim allegiance with the force of a Divine command. Both these attitudes are guilty of the fallacy of judging religious institutions merely by their origin. We, together with other observant Jews all over the world, believe that a completely free and objective approach to the origins of the Bible and the other classical sources of Judaism does not deprive Jewish observance of the Divine power, since it matters more not what an institution once was, but what it has become.
2. To encourage a more flexible attitude in the Anglo-Jewish Community
In recent years it has become evident that a change has taken place among traditionalist circles in Anglo-Jewry so that “Orthodoxy” is being interpreted in an increasingly rigid and narrow fashion. We believe that traditional Judaism can be as dynamic and creative as it was in the great formative periods. It does not tie us to a static conception of Jewish life in which each generation copies the pattern of life of its predecessors in all details without the gradual change and adaptation seen in the earlier periods.
3. To foster the study of the teachings of Judaism in their relevance to modern man’s situation
We believe that Judaism has much to teach modern man and that its eternal message is capable of being expressed in the contemporary idiom. The physical nature of the universe revealed by modern science, the new frontiers of the human mind discovered by modern psychology, the discovery of nuclear energy, the new trends in philosophical thinking, all of these present a challenge to Judaism. To meet this, serious research and thinking is required.
4. To strengthen and enrich Jewish observance
Far from rejecting traditional observance, our aim is to strengthen it through an approach which does not contradict critical scholarship. Through this approach, Jewish observance is seen as a vital force which has developed through the ages under God’s guidance to express the eternal ideals of Judaism and to bring man nearer to God. We refuse to accept the view that the only choice is between a fundamentalist attitude and classical Reform. We believe that this attempt to relate Judaism to the problems and demands of modern life is in the best tradition of the Judaism of our fathers.