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Many Branches of
One Tree
Movements in Ancient Times
• Oldest records of formal differences:
– The time of Chanukah
• Land of Israel controlled by Greece
• Hellenizing Jews opposed by
• War broke out
• The Jewish people united against the
• War ended
• Jewish people divided into 4:
The Essenes
–Mystical group
–Strict discipline
–Lived in isolation
–Dead Sea Scrolls
The Sadducees
–Developed from Hellenism
–Priests and the wealthiest
–Strict, narrow and unchanging
interpretation of the written Torah
–Did not believe in oral Torah
–The Temple and its sacrificial services
–Adopted Greek culture
The Pharisees
–God gave the Jews both a written
Torah and an oral Torah
–Written and Oral Torah equally binding
–Open to reinterpretation by the rabbis
–Devoted to study of the Torah and
education for all
–Judea conquered by Rome
–Tensions with Rome began
–The Zealots=nationalistic
–Not a religious group
–Favored war against Rome
Pharisees' ideas are
the only one that
survived the
destruction of the
• After the destruction of the
Temple, Judaism was Judaism
• Basically the same as
Orthodox Judaism today
• Some differences in practices
and customs between the
Ashkenazim and Sephardim
Karaites and Rabbinical Judaism
• 9th century, Karaites (literally, People of
the Scripture) separated from Rabbinic
• Believed in strict interpretation of the
literal text
• No rabbinic interpretation
• Said rabbinic law not part of an oral
tradition and not from God
Karaites and Rabbinical Judaism
• Difference most obvious in regard to
– Karaites kept their houses dark on Shabbat (no
– Rabbinic interpretation allowed Jews to leave
burning a flame lit before Shabbat
– Karaites use a different calendar
• Karaites were once as much as 40% of Jews
• Today, Karaites are a very small minority
• Jews whose ancestors lived in Spain and
Portugal starting in the Middle Ages
• Fled first to North Africa and other parts of
the Ottoman Empire
• Settled in France, Holland, England, Italy,
and the Balkan states
• Differ from the Ashkenazi Jews:
– Language: Ladino
– Preservation of Babylonian traditions
• Many now live in Israel
• Descendants of Historically Yiddish-speaking
European Jews who settled in central and northern
• Originally from the Rhineland valley
• Name derived from the Hebrew word Ashkenaz
• After the Crusades (late 11th century) many migrated
east to Poland, Lithuania, and Russia
• Ashkenazim and Sephardim differ in:
– Cultural traditions
– Pronunciation of Hebrew
– Synagogue chanting
• Today they constitute more than 80% of the world's
Chasidism started in the 1700s
The first of the modern movements
Developed in Eastern Europe
Founded by Israel ben Eliezer (the Baal Shem Tov)
Before Chasidism, Judaism emphasized education
as the way to get closer to God
• Chasidism emphasized alternative routes to God :
– personal experiences
– Mysticism
• Considered a radical movement at the time
• There was strong opposition from those who held to
the pre-existing view of Judaism.
• Those who opposed Chasidism
• Means opponents
• Strong disputes between the
Chasidim and the Mitnagdim
• Today, the Chasidim and the
Mitnagdim are relatively unified
• Both are Torah observant forms of
• Today all branches of Judaism have been
strongly influenced by Chasidic teachings
• Chasidic sects are organized around a
spiritual leader called a Rebbe or a tzaddik
• A Chasid consults his Rebbe about all major
life decisions
• Chasidism is a strong movement
• The Lubavitcher Chasidim are very vocal
with a high media presence
• There are still many active Chasidic sects
Movements in the United States Today
• Approximately 5 million of the world's 13 million
Jews live in the United States.
• There are basically four major movements in the
U.S. today:
• Orthodox and sometimes Conservative are
described as "traditional" movements.
• Reform, Reconstructionist, and sometimes
Conservative are described as "liberal" or "modern"
Orthodox Judaism
• Orthodoxy is actually made up of several
different groups. It includes:
– Modern Orthodox: largely integrated into
modern society and also observance of
halakhah (Jewish Law)
– Chasidim, who often live separately and dress
– Yeshivish Orthodox, who are neither Chasidic
nor modern.
• The Orthodox movements are similar in
Orthodox Judaism
– As a movement believe that God gave
Moses the whole Torah at Mount Sinai
– The "whole Torah" includes:
• The Written Torah (the first five books of the
• The Oral Torah (an oral tradition interpreting
and explaining the Written Torah)
– They Believe
• The Torah is true
• The Torah has come down to us intact and
• The Torah contains 613 mitzvot binding
upon Jews but not upon non-Jews
Orthodox Judaism
• 1990 National Jewish Population
Survey (NJPS)
– 7% of the Jews in America identify as
• 2000 NJPS
– 13% of the Jews in America identify as
• 2013 Pew Research Study:
– 10% Jews in America identify as
Reform Judaism
• Began in the 1800’s in Germany
• Founders of the movement sought to “Reform”
• Wanted a Judaism more compatible with modern life
• In the early years, Reform Judaism sought to get rid
of traditions such as:
Kippot and Tallit
Praying in Hebrew (prayed in German)
Shabbat on Saturday (changed it to Sunday)
Bar Mitzvah (replaced by Confirmation)
• Today, many of these traditions have been
embraced once again
Reform Judaism
• As a movement does not believe the Torah
was the word of God
• The movement accepts the critical theory of
Biblical authorship:
– the Bible was written by separate sources
– It was redacted together
• Reform Judaism does not believe the
observance of ritual commandments is
• They retain much of the values and ethics
of Judaism
• Some choose to follow ritual practices
Reform Judaism
• Many non-observant Jews identify themselves
as Reform because Reform is the “most liberal”
• There are approximately 850 Reform
synagogues in the United States and Canada
• 1990 NJPS
– 42% of the Jews in America identify as Reform
• 2000 NJPS
– 39% of the Jews in America identify as Reform
• 2013 Pew Research Study:
– 34% Jews in America identify as Reform
Conservative Judaism
• Grew out of the tension
between Orthodox and Reform
• Formally organized as the
United Synagogue of
Conservative Judaism in by Dr.
Solomon Schechter in 1913
Conservative Judaism
• The movement believes the truths found in the
Tanach and other Jewish writings come from
• They were transmitted by humans and contain a
human component
• Accepts the binding nature of halakhah
• Believes that the Law should change and adapt,
absorbing aspects of the predominant culture
while remaining true to Judaism's values
• Lots of variation among Conservative synagogues.
– Some are indistinguishable from Reform, but with more
– Some practically Orthodox, except that men and women
sit together
– This flexibility deeply rooted in Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism
• Approximately 325 Conservative
synagogues in the U.S. and Canada
• 1990 NJPS:
– 38% Jews in America identify as
• 2000 NJPS
– 33% Jews in America identify as
• 2013 Pew Research Study:
– 26% Jews in America identify as
Reconstructionist Judaism
• An outgrowth of Conservative Judaism
• Founded by Mordecai Kaplan
– Conservative rabbi
– Taught at JTS (Conservative Rabbinical
• Doesn't fit neatly into the
traditional/liberal, observant/nonobservant continuum
Reconstructionist Judaism
• Movement believes that Judaism is an
"evolving religious civilization"
• Do not believe in a personified deity that is
active in history
• Do not believe that God chose the Jewish
• Greater emphasis on Jewish observance than
Reform Judaism
– Reconstructionists observe the halakhah:
• If they choose to
• Not because it is a binding Law from God
• Because it is a valuable cultural remnant
Reconstructionist Judaism
• Reconstructionism small movement
• Lots of Reconstructionists serve as rabbis to
Jewish college student organizations and JCCs
• Just over 100 Reconstructionist synagogues in the
U.S. and Canada
• 1990 NJPS
– 1% of Jews in America identify as Reconstructionist
• 2000 NJPS
– 3% of Jews in America identify as Reconstructionist
• 2013 Pew Research Study:
– 2% Jews in America identify as Reconstructionist
Other (Smaller) Movements
• Jewish Renewal:
– Seeking a renewed encounter between God and the Jewish people
– Understanding Jewish history as a series of encounters with God
– Nurtures the rebbe-spark (that is, the creative energy and leadership
that comes from direct contact with the Divine) in everyone
– Does not fear the rebbe-sparks emergence in different ways and
degrees at different moments in different people
– Nurtures communities that dance and wrestle with God and are:
Create shared openness to spiritual experience
– Seek to assist the spiritual growth and healing of individuals,
communities, whole societies, and the planet
• Humanistic Judaism
– Embraces a human-centered philosophy
– Combines the celebration of Jewish culture and identity with an
adherence to humanistic values and ideas
– Offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life
Physical Differences
Tallit / Tallit Katan
Placement of the Bima
Leaders / Rabbis
Musical Instruments
Structure of the Service
• One significant differences between services is
Musaf (additional) service.
• Musaf represents the additional sacrifice offered at
the Temple
• Musaf expresses the hope that the Temple in
Jerusalem and its rites of ritual sacrificed will be
• Reform and Reconstructionist synagogue do not
recite Musaf
• Conservative synagogues recites Musaf, but has
redefined it:
– It reminds us of the Temple
– It is not a call for God to return to sacrifice
Reform Siddur
• Poetic translations and new meditations
• Gender sensitive:
– Matriarchs along with patriarch
• Reworks traditional Hebrew passages to match to
Reform Judaism
• Does not accept literal conception of:
– The revelation of Torah
– The physical resurrection of the dead
– The reinstitution of sacrifices
• Home observances (Kiddush and the parents'
blessing for their children) come first
• Starts with Shabbat prayers, then weekday prayers
Conservative Siddur
• Uses traditional Hebrew with a few key passages
adapted for ideological reasons
• References to resurrection are the same Hebrew
text, but are reinterpreted in English
• Two parallel openings of the Amidah prayer:
– One with the traditional reference to Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob
– Another including the matriarchs
• Expands holidays on which one says the Al Hanisim prayer of thanks for miracles to include:
– Hanukkah
– Purim
– Yom Ha'atzmaut
Reconstructionist Siddur
• Called Kol Haneshamah (every creature" or "all that
• Innovative approach to liturgy:
– Traditionalist in form
– Radical in ideology
• Full Hebrew text given for prayers
• Follows the traditional "matbeah shel tefilah" (order of
• Modern English translation
• Gender neutral
• Alternative versions reflect different interpretations
• Varied names for God
• "Kavanot” (deeper meanings) following many prayers
• Songs, poems and readings
‫‪Differences in Prayers‬‬
‫ברכות השחר‬
‫מתים \ הכל‬
‫משיב הרוח \ מוריד הטל‬
‫בחר בנו \ קרבתנו‬
‫שמות לה"‬