Seekers of Meaning 5/10/2024: Rabbi Mark Washofsky, author of book, “Reading Reform Responsa”

On this week’s episode of the Seekers of Meaning TV Show and Podcast, Rabbi Mark Washofsky, PhD, discusses his new book, Reading Reform Responsa: Jewish Tradition, Reform Rabbis, and Today’s Issues, now available from CCAR Press or

The responsa literature, in which rabbis answer questions about halachah (Jewish law), is a vast treasury reaching back nearly fifteen centuries; Reform rabbis have been writing responsa since the 1800s. In Reading Reform Responsa, Rabbi Mark Washofsky, PhD, presents a deep dive into this literature, boldly arguing that Reform Judaism is indeed a movement fundamentally based on halachah. By inviting and guiding readers to understand Reform responsa with a critical eye, he shows that our movement has always been informed by Jewish law as well as Reform history. A teacher and mentor of generations of students at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Washofsky gives us a peek inside his classroom, making Reform responsa — and their history, framing, and context — engaging and accessible for all.

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About the Guest

Rabbi Mark Washofsky, Ph.D.

Rabbi Mark Washofsky, PhD, is an emeritus professor of Jewish Law and Practice at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. He served as chair of the Responsa Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis from 1996 to 2017. He is currently the chair of the Solomon B. Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah. His publications include Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice, Reform Responsa for the Twenty-First Century (CCAR Press, 2010), and Reading Reform Responsa: Jewish Tradition, Reform Rabbis, and Today’s Issues (CCAR Press, 2024).

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