Sacred Writings: The sacred writings of Judaism are referred to as a Torah. The Torah is often translated as meaning “revelation”, or “instruction” Why? It refers to the Law of Moses and as well as all of the Hebrew scriptures and the entire belief s of the Jewish faith. The torah is a description of the development of God’s relationship with his chosen people.
Jewish Groups and Institutions • Like many other religions, Judaism has developed many different denominations, except these are of recent origin. • In the Middle Ages, Jewish communities throughout Europe lived in ghetto’s. • Ghetto – an area of a city in which minority groups such as Jews were required to live. The first was in Venice in 1516. • Many followed Orthodox traditions.
Jewish Groups and Institutions • By the end of the 18th Century, Jews in Western Europe began to gain civil liberties and therefore started associating themselves with Gentiles (non-Jews). • During the time of the Enlightenment, many Jews joined European life more fully and felt that they should become more assimilated into European society. • Assimilation – become absorbed into the larger society.
Jewish Groups and Institutions • For Jews contemplating this idea, there seemed to be three (3) possibilities: • Keep the old ways • Assimilate fully • Introduce changes and bring Judaism into the modern world. • The old ways seemed to be in conflict with the modern world and full assimilation mean losing one’s Jewish identity. Thus, the last alternative – introducing changes – offered a solution. • This marked the beginning of the division of Judaism.
Orthodox Jews believe without questionthat the “Torahis from Heaven” and that it is “held to be the Word of God”. • The Orthodox view is that the oral and written Torah are of divine origin and has not been altered in 3000 years of Jewish history. • The Torah is a source of truth, asrevealed by God, handed down from generation to generation. • Therefore, they firmly deny that humans can individually change the rules of God to fit their own needs. • Services are in Hebrew, the Sabbath is strictly practiced; only kosherfood is eaten and traditional gender roles are adhered to. Orthodox Judaism
Noted for their traditionally orthodox manner of dress: men wear beards, black hats, and long black coats, and women cover their heads and dress very modestly. • Movement began in the Ukraine between 1700 and 1760 CE with Israel ben Eliezer, who gained a reputation as a miracle worker, healer and mystic. • Hasidism is a mystical movement emphasizing asceticism (non-materialistic life-style) and experience born out of love and humility before God. • Ben Eliezer advised his followers to pay less attention to formal details; he believed that the best way to communicate with God was through humility, good deeds and prayer. Hasidism
Reform Jews believe that both the written and spoken Torah are human creations. • In the early 18thCentury, new ideas began emerging in Western Europe about a more modern approach to Judaism that didn’t affect traditional Jewish beliefs. • Some changes included: • Learning German (not Yiddish) • Studying secular subjects and learning a trade. • Introducing local language (not Hebrew) into services. • Introducing music into services. • Women were ordained as rabbis (first female Rabbi in Canada was Joan Friedman). • Women and men were no longer separated within the synagogue. • Less emphasis on eating Kosher foods. • Reform Judaism is considered the most “liberal” branch of Judaism. Reform Judaism
Conservative Judaism holds the middle ground between the Orthodox and Reform positions. • This branch recognizes the human element in revelation - that God revealed the Torah both to the people and through the people. • Conservative Jews wanted to alter or change Orthodox Jewish practices, but thought that Reform Judaism was too quick to abandon practices. • Conservative Judaism ultimately believes that personal conscience and tradition must be the final rule of life, not strict adherence to the Torah.
Conservative synagogues maintain the traditional order of the Service and conduct them mostly in Hebrew. • They allow some flexibility in the interpretation of the Jewish law. • For example: • Men and women sit together in the synagogue. • Women can participate in services and can become cantors and rabbis. • Girls are permitted to have a bat mitzvah.
Youngest but fastest growing of the American-centered Jewish movements. • Founded in 1930’s and an offshoot of conservative Judaism. • Based on philosophy of Mordecai Kaplan. • It’s aim is to reconstruct Judaism by making Jewish traditions meaningful in today’s world. • It promotes the view of Judaism as a work in progress and not a finished project.
Orthodox Jewish view of the role of women: wife and mother. • Home life is a divine service and dedication to others is considered a virtue. • Contrary to the widely-held belief, women can have careers outside the home. • Women normally wear modest skirts or dresses (pants worn only for certain jobs). • Most married women cover their hair in the presence of men other than their husband. • In the Orthodox tradition, men and women do not mix during prayer because the opposite sex would be distracting. Women in Judaism
In the Conservative tradition, women are now able to publically read the Torah, be part of the minyan (minimum number of Jews needed for worship) and can be ordained as a rabbi. • Reform Judaism, women are generally seen as equal and the Reform movement has introduced alternative rituals to address the religious needs of women. • Reform has also allowed women to initiate divorce. Women in Judaism