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Topic: Conservative, Orthodox & Progressive Judaism
Recall Column
Note Making area
[key words & phrases]
[recording of notes in class]

Basic beliefs

Conservative Judaism
The roots for Conservative Judaism were laid in the Jewish
Theological Seminary of America stretch back into the 1880s, but the
movement was formally organized by Dr. Solomon Schechter in 1913.
Dr. Schechter wanted the movement to implement certain key ideas:
a) K'lal Yisrael (the whole of the Jewish community);
b) a Jewry based on the North American experience;
c) a Jewry related to modern living;
d) a Jewry devoted to Torah, with education a major priority;
e) a Jewry normatively halachic.
Conservative Judaism maintains that:
the truths found in Jewish scriptures and other Jewish writings
come from G-d, but
were transmitted by humans & contain a human component
generally accepts the binding nature of halakhah,[law] but
believes that the Law should change and adapt, absorbing
aspects of the predominant culture while remaining true to
Judaism's values.


The idea of flexibility is deeply rooted in Conservative Judaism,

and can be found within their own Statement of Principles,
Emet ve-Emunah.
The Seven core values of Conservative Judaism: [see "The Sacred
Cluster: The Core Values of Conservative Judaism."]


The Centrality of Modern Israel

Hebrew: The Irreplaceable Language of Jewish Expression
Devotion to the Ideal of Klal Yisrael
The Defining Role of Torah in the Reshaping of Judaism
The Study of Torah
The Governance of Jewish Life by Halakha
Belief in God

Other movements in modern Judaism rest on a single tenet, [belief or

principle] such as the autonomy of the individual or the inclusiveness
of God's revelation at Sinai (Torah mi-Sinai), but Conservative
Judaism has a number of discrete and unprioritized core values.
Conceptually they fall into two sets:
three national 1, 2, & 3 and three religious - 4, 5 & 6
which are grounded and joined to each other by the
overarching presence of God, who represents the
seventh and ultimate core value."
The Conservative Movement in Israel is called the Masorti (Masorti is the
Hebrew word for "traditional") Movement. This Masorti Movement is based on
three primary principles:

1. Torah and Mitzvot

2. Tolerance and Pluralism
3. Zionism

Today there are about 800 congregations worldwide, representing some 1.5
million members, affiliated with the Conservative Movement.

Orthodox Judaism


Basic beliefs

Orthodox Judaism; Ultra-Orthodox Judaism; Kabbalah /Jewish

Orthodox Judaism believes that both the Written and Oral Torah
are of divine origin, containing the exact words of God without
any human influence.
Rambam's, [also known as Moses Maimonides], 13 Principles
[Articles] of Faith are an excellent summary of the core beliefs of
Orthodox Judaism.

I believe with perfect faith that God is the Creator and Ruler of all
things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
I believe with perfect faith that God is One. There is no unity that is
in any way like His. He alone is our God. He was, He is, and He will
I believe with perfect faith that God does not have a body,
[incorporeal].Physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing
whatsoever that resembles Him at all.
I believe with perfect faith that God is first and last.
I believe with perfect faith that it is only proper to pray to God. One
may not pray to anyone or anything else.
I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are
I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses is absolutely
true. He was the chief of all prophets, both before and after Him.
I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that we now have is
that which was given to Moses.
I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, and
that there will never be another given by God.
I believe with perfect faith that God knows all of man's deeds and
thoughts. It is thus written (Psalm 33:15), "He has moulded every
heart together, and He understands what each one does."
I believe with perfect faith that God rewards those who keep His
commandments, and punishes those who transgress Him.
I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. How long
it takes, I will await His coming every day.
13. I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back
to life when God wills it to happen.



1 5 = God:
6 9 = Moses & Torah:
10 13 = Eschatology [any system of doctrines concerning

last, or final, matters, as death, the Judgment, the future state, etc].

Orthodox Jews strictly follow the Written Torah and the
Oral Law as interpreted by the Medieval commentators
(Rishonim) and codified in the Codices (Rabbi Joseph Karo's
Shulhan Arukh and Rabbi Moshe Isserlis's Mapah).
From the time they get up in the morning until they go to bed
at night, Orthodox Jews observe God's commandments
concerning prayer, dress, food, sex, family relations, social
behaviour, the Sabbath day, holidays and more.
The term "Orthodox" Judaism only emerged as a result of the
growth of new branches of Judaism.
Orthodox Judaism views itself as the continuation of the
beliefs and practices of normative Judaism, as accepted by the
Jewish nation at Mt. Sinai and codified in successive

generations in an ongoing process that continues to this day.

Orthodox is not a unified movement with a single governing body,
but rather many different movements that all strictly observe
While all orthodox movements are similar in their beliefs and
observance, they differ in the details that are emphasized and
in their attitudes toward modern culture and the State of
Modern Orthodox tends to be a bit more liberal and more Zionistic.
Ultra-Orthodox, including Yeshivah movements and the Chasidic sect,
tend to be the least open to change and the most critical of modern
Chasidism, founded in Europe by the Baal Shem Tov, believes that
acts of kindness and prayer could be used to reach God, as opposed
to the older view that one could only become a righteous Jew through
rigorous learning. The word Chasid describes a person who does
chesed (good deeds for others). Chasidic Jews dress distinctively, live
separately from modern society, and are dedicated to strict
observance of Jewish Law.
Orthodox Judaism is the only movement that has preserved
the mystical foundations of Jewish theology, referred to as

Progressive Judaism

Reform JudaismReconstructionist JudaismHumanistic Judaism

American Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish movement in North
America, was founded by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise over 125 years ago.
Though its early classical period was in Germany and Central Europe,
Reform (Progressive) Judaism has undergone its greatest period of
growth and development in the United States.

Basic beliefs

Progressive Judaism is rooted in the Bible, especially in the

teachings of the Hebrew Prophets.
It is founded on:
authentic manifestations of Jewish creativity, ancient and
modern, particularly those that stress inwardness and desire to
learn what God expects from us
justice and equality, democracy and peace, personal
fulfilment and collective obligations.
The practices of Progressive Judaism are anchored in Jewish thought
and tradition.
They seek to extend the range of observance by granting full
equality to all Jews, irrespective of gender and sexual
orientation - while challenging laws that are contrary to
Judaism's fundamental principles.
One of the guiding principles of Reform Judaism is the
autonomy of the individual.
A Reform Jew has the right to decide whether to subscribe to

a particular belief or practice.

The Movement accepts that all Jews -- whether Reform, Conservative,
Reconstructionist, or Orthodox -- are essential parts of the worldwide
community of Jewry.
Reform Judaism maintains that all Jews have an obligation to
study the traditions and to observe those mitzvot (sacred
acts) that have meaning today and that can ennoble Jewish
families and communities.
Reform Judaism differs from more ritually observant forms of
Judaism in that it recognizes that the sacred heritage has
evolved and adapted over the centuries and that it must
continue to do so.


According to Rabbi Eric. H. Yoffie of the Union for Reform Judaism:

Reform Jews are committed to a Judaism that changes and

adapts to the needs of the day

Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of

women in all areas of Jewish life

Reform Jews are committed to social justice

Reform Jews are committed to the principle of inclusion,

not exclusion

Reform Jews are committed to a true partnership between

the rabbinate and the laity.
The earliest Reform rabbis to settle in Israel arrived in the

In 1973, the World Union for Progressive Judaism moved its

headquarters to Jerusalem, establishing Progressive Judaism's
international presence in Zion and reflecting its commitment
to help build a strong indigenous movement.
Today there are some 30 Progressive congregations around Israel.
In its practice, Progressive Judaism in Israel is in some ways more
traditional than in the Diaspora,[elsewhere in the world].
1. Hebrew is used exclusively in worship services.
2. Classical Jewish texts and Rabbinic literature play a more
prominent role in Reform education and synagogue life.
3. A Progressive Beit Din (religious court) regulates procedures of
conversion and offers guidance in other ritual matters.
4. This traditional leaning embodies one of the original, classic
principles of the movement: that Progressive Judaism
draws upon powerful influences in the larger social
context in which it lives and grows.
5. Like Reform Jews worldwide, the members of the Israel
movement value the principal of "Tikkun Olam" - the repair
of the world through the pursuit of social justice - as they
value ritual and tradition.
6. In Israel this commitment extends to protecting the physical
and spiritual well-being of the Jewish State.
7. Progressive Judaism is dedicated to ensuring that the
State of Israel reflects Judaism's highest prophetic
character which calls for freedom, equality and peace
among all the inhabitants of the land.

Summaries / Questions

Homework / Class work: Outline the unique features of Conservative, Orthodox and
Progressive Judaism. What are the similarities? What are the differences?








Truths found in Jewish
scripture come G-d, but
were transmitted through
humans and cont