Branches of Judaism Why the change? 200 to ca. 1800: One basic form of Judaism (“Rabbinic”) Based on Talmud (Mishnah + Gemara) Focus on observing oral and written law 613 commandments Focus on study, prayer, ongoing “discussion” by rabbis and commentators Page from the Talmud Europe, ca. 1800 Enlightenment ideals Critique received religious authority Critique role of religion in warfare (“God is on our side”) Religion should be rational, about universal truths and morals Emancipation of Jews (citizenship granted) Not rituals, particular histories, miracles 1791 France; 1796 Netherlands 1856 U.K.; 1861 Italy; 1871 Germany 1910 Spain; 1917 Russia Dilemma for Jews: modernize or be marginal? Beginnings of Reform Judaism Guiding idea Emphasize ethics, not ritual Adapt to contemporary life (use local language) Emphasize universality, not particularity Re-interpret messianic beliefs Begins in Germany (1818), but centered today in the U.S. The early, radical days of Reform If Judaism is about ethics not ritual, then: Can worship be on Sunday? Can worship be in the local language? Can people eat shellfish, pork, etc.? Do infant boys need to be circumcised? What is gained, and what is lost here? Tradition vs. “relevance” Jews today have become more traditional than the early radical forms of Reform Reform today Less radical, more traditional than in 1800s uses more Hebrew Supports a Jewish state (Israel) Particularity, ethnic identity, ritual are valuable for keeping Judaism alive Very engaged in social issues Strong focus on “tikkun olam” (repairing the world; social justice) Strong emphasis on women’s rights (ordained 1972) and inclusion of gays, two issues that are very divisive in religion today Allows for patrilineal descent 40% of Jews in America roughly 7% Orthodox; 40% Conservative; 3% other Orthodoxy Only known as a distinct branch after Reform develops Adheres to Jewish law in all of life, not just ethics Walk to synagogue on Sabbath Keep kosher (two sets of dishes, etc) Men and women have distinct roles means living a Jewish community public vs. domestic Only men count in a quorum (10 needed for public prayer) sit on separate sides of the synagogue Only form recognized in Israel Conservative Develops after Reform in 1913 in U.S. Middle ground: Reform goes to far, but Orthodoxy needs to be adapted to modern times Law (Bible, Talmud) comes from God, but transmitted through human beings; can be read critically So, still binding, but can be adapted More use of Hebrew in liturgy Keeps matrilineal descent Women ordained 1983 What do we learn from branches of Judaism? Another example: how does religion decide how to adapt to new circumstances? What issues are most divisive? What issues are most common to all branches?