Frequently Asked Questions on Soc.Culture.Jewish
Part 2: Who We Are: The Group and Jewish Movements
[Last Post: Mon Mar 29 11:07:11 US/Pacific 2004]
The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer
questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family
of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the
various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to
accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In
all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your
local rabbi is a good place to start.
[Got Questions?] Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your
questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to
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The deceased sages described within are of blessed memory, (assume a
Z"L or ZT"L after their names) and the sages alive today should live
to see long and good days (assume SHLITA). May Hashem grant complete
recovery to the ill. Individual honorifics are omitted.
The FAQ was produced by a committee and is a cooperative work. The
contributors never standardized on transliteration scheme from Hebrew,
Aramaic, Yiddish, or Ladino to English. As a result, the same original
word might appear with a variety of spellings. This is complicated by
the fact that there are regional variations in the pronunciation of
Hebrew. In some places, the common spelling variations are mentioned;
in others--not. We hope that this is not too confusing.
In general, throughout this FAQ, North American (US/Canada) terms are
used to refer to the movements of Judaism. Outside of North American,
Reform is Progressive or Liberal Judaism; Conservative is Masorti or
Neolog, and Orthodoxy is often just "Judaism". Even with this, there
are differences in practice, position, and ritual between US/Canada
Reform and other progressive/liberal movements (such as UK
Progressive/ Liberal), and between US/Canada Conservative and the
conservative/Masorti movement elsewhere. Where appropriate, these
differences will be highlighted.
The goal of the FAQ is to present a balanced view of Judaism; where a
response is applicable to a particular movement only, this will be
noted. Unless otherwise noted or implied by the text, all responses
reflect the traditional viewpoint.
This list should be used in conjunction with the Soc.Culture.Jewish
reading lists. Similar questions can be found in the books
referenced in those lists.
There are also numerous other Jewish FAQs available on the Internet
that are not part of the SCJ FAQ/RL suite. An index to these may be
found at www.scjfaq.org/otherfaqs.html
This FAQ is a volunteer effort. If you wish to support the maintenance
of the FAQ, please see Section 20, Question 99 for more
Reproduction of this posting for commercial use is subject to
restriction. See Part 1 for more details.
This portion of the FAQ contains answers to the following questions:
Who We Are
1. Who reads the soc.culture.jewish newsgroups?
2. What are the major Jewish movements?
3. What is Conservative Judaism?
4. What is Orthodox Judaism?
5. What is Reform/Progressive Judaism?
6. What about other movements?
7. What are some of the Orthodox sub-groups?
8. What is Chassidism and how does it differ from other Orthodox
9. What is Lubavitch Chasidism and Chabad?
10. What is Breslov Chasidism?
11. What is Satmar Chasidism?
12. What other forms of Chasidism?
13. What are OCR (O-C-R) wars? Why all the flames?
14. But Reform Judaism isn't Judaism? Why don't they see that?
15. But Orthodox Judaism isn't Judaism? Why don't they see that?
16. Why shouldn't I say "ultra-Orthodox", "Reformed Judaism", or
17. How does a Chassid differ from Misnagid?
18. What is a "Torah Jew?"
19. What about homosexual Jews?
20. Is it true that Jews are all (fill-in-the-blank)?
21. How many Jews are there today in the U.S.A.?
22. How many Jews are in the world?
23. Who was the first Jew?
24. What is Judaism all about?
Subject: Question 2.1: Who reads the soc.culture.jewish newsgroups?
Qualitatively? We have men and women who have outstanding Jewish
educations, and who are willing to take the time to share their
knowledge. We have serious non-observant Jews seeking deeper Jewish
roots. We have Jews still trying to see exactly where they fit it,
Jews who are struggling, and learning, and actively improving
themselves. Some reply carefully and kindly; others use their wits
like scalpels, cutting away at the first sign of nonsense. We have
talented writers, whose prose is often poetic. Counted among us are
Hassidic Jews, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and
miscellaneous Jews. We've got atheists and secularists, Hebraists and
Yiddishists. And we are all learning from one another and teaching one
Quantitatively? This is difficult to answer. When Usenet was smaller,
surveys were done of the newsgroup to try to determine the
denominational breakdown of the readership. This survey involved
regular postings to the newsgroup, together with periodic mail sent to
newsgroup participants. Nowadays, some of the approaches taken in
conducting the survey (i.e., the sending of notes to newsgroup readers
unsolicited) would be considered to be spam. So a survey hasn't been
done recently. Note: If you are interested in conducting one, please
contact the FAQ maintainer <email@example.com>, and he will be
glad to provide you with the scripts and ideas from the last survey.
What did the last survey say? First, note that it only applied to
S.C.J, and was last conducted in 1995, well over 5 years ago. There
were just under 332 respondants (or approximately 1% of the readership
at that time). This survey showed the following breakdowns:
1995 1993 1991 1989
JC [Conservative ]: 30.12% 22.06% 28.98% 37.12%
JO [Orthodox ]: 27.11% 31.62% 36.33% 29.55%
JL [Liberal/Reform ]: 13.86% 12.87% 10.20% 11.36%
JS [Secular/Humanistic ]: 5.72% 5.15% 3.67% 2.27%
JR [Reconstructionist ]: 5.42% 2.21% 1.63% 1.52%
JU [Unspecified Jewish ]: 4.22% 4.78% 2.86% N/A
JN [Non-Affiliated ]: 3.01% 4.04% 2.45% 0.76%
AA [Agnostic or Atheist ]: 3.01% 2.94% 0.82% 6.06%
OT [Other ]: 2.41% 3.68% 4.49% 0.76%
JT [Traditional ]: 1.51% 3.68% N/A N/A
CF [Christian Fndmntlist]: 0.90% 1.47% 3.67% N/A
CM [Christian Mainstream]: 0.60% 0.74% 2.04% N/A
CC [Catholic ]: 0.30% 1.84% 1.22% N/A
CO [Christian Other ]: 0.30% 1.47% 1.22% N/A
HI [Hindu ]: 0.00% 0.37% N/A N/A
J [Jewish ]: 91.87% 86.40% 86.12% 82.58%
A [Atheist/Agnostic]: 3.01% 2.94% 0.82% 6.06%
O [Other ]: 2.41% 3.68% 4.49% 0.76%
C [Christian ]: 2.11% 5.51% 8.16% N/A
H [Hindu ]: 0.00% 0.37% N/A N/A
It is interesting to contrast these numbers with the results mentioned
in Question 2.21.
Subject: Question 2.2: What are the major Jewish movements?
The three major denominations in Judaism are, in alphabetical order,
Conservative Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, and Reform/Progressive
Outside of the United States and Israel, the distinction tends to be
along Orthodox/Liberal lines. Outside of North America, the equivalent
of North American Reform Judaism is called Progressive or Liberal
Judaism. Outside of North America, the equivalent of North American
Conservative Judaism is called "Reform" or "Masorti", although there
are differences in all cases from the North American versions. To be
more specific, all synagogues associated with the movement in North
and South America are called 'Conservative', all synagoues in Israel
and England are called 'Masorti', and all synagogues in Hungary are
called 'Neolog'. Note that the Neolog movement developed independently
of the rest of Conservative Judaism. Their philosophy was also based
on the work of Rabbi Zecharias Frankel, the founder of the
Positive-Historical school of thought (Mid 1800s, Germany, Breslau).
The evolution of their school of thought basically followed the same
path as the Conservative movement, and in recent years they have
formalized this by joining the World Council of Conservative/Masorti
With respect to the United Kingdom, there are about 11 synangogues
that are officially part of The World Council of Conservative/Masorti
Synangogues (http://www.masortiworld.com ), and all of these
synangogues refer to themselves as 'Masorti'. Most of them even have
the word 'Masorti' in their name. Their philosophy is identical to
that of Conservative Jews in the US - and Masorti Jews in Israel - and
almost all of their rabbis (perhaps even all by now) are officially
members of the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly.
In Israel, the Conservative and Reform movements are very small
(although they do exist). Rather, the split tends to be along
secular/non-secular lines, with further internal devisions with the
non-secular adherents. An estimated breakdown might be 30% secular,
50% traditional (those who keep some Mitzvot), and 30% religious.
These numbers have been provided by Hillel Applebaum
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and are being reinvestigated because they
add up to over 100%. This breakdown may be misleading, because the
Mitzvot observed by the majority of "traditional" Israelis include
some that are imposed by secular law (Jewish marriage and divorce) and
others that have been adopted voluntarily because of their social,
cultural, and/or national content (e.g. Passover Seder, Chanukah
candles). Conversely, most members of this group do not keep the
Mitzvot that are considered by non-secular Jews to lie at the heart of
Judaism: Shabbat (observance of the Sabbath) and Kashruth (observance
of the dietary laws), and should therefore be regarded as "nearly
secular" rather than "moderately religious".
There are also a fourth movement which is considered major by some:
Reconstructionist. It is an offshoot of Conservative.
Note: "Messianic Judaism[sic]" and other groups accepting the tenets
of Christianity are not Jewish movements.
Sephardic(Southern European/Spanish/North African) Orthodox tend not
to bother with liberal/traditional distinctions as much as Ashkenazi
(Northern European/Franco-German/Russian) Jews.
Subject: Question 2.3: What is Conservative Judaism?
Conservative Judaism attempts to combine a positive attitude toward
modern culture, acceptance of critical secular scholarship regarding
Judaism's sacred texts, and also commitment to Jewish observance.
Conservative Judaism believes that scholarly study of Jewish texts
indicates that Judaism has constantly been evolving to meet the needs
of the Jewish people in varying circumstances, and that a central
halachic authority can continue the halachic evolution today.
Attitude Toward Halacha
Conservative Judaism affirms that the halachic process reflects the
Divine will. It makes use of Solomon Schechter's concept of "Klal
Yisrael" (the whole of the (observant) Jewish community), in that
decisions on Jewish Law are largely determined by the practices of
In Conservative Judaism, the central halachic authority of the
movement, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS), will often
set out more than one acceptable position. In such a case, the rabbi
of the congregation (mara d'atra) is free to choose from the range of
acceptable positions (or none of them), and his congregation is
expected to abide by his choice. The CJLS speaks for the Conservative
movement and offers parameters to guide local rabbis who turn to it
for assistance. Local rabbis will make use of traditional sources and,
when available, teshuvot written for the CJLS.
An exception is made in the case of "standards". A "standard" requires
an 80% (not unanimous) vote of the membership of the CJLS (not just
those in attendance) and a majority vote by the plenum of the
Rabbinical Assembly. Willful violations have led to resignations or
expulsions from membership of the Rabbinical Assembly (RA). At
present, there are four standards:
1. A complete prohibition on rabbis and cantors to officiate in any
way at intermarriages.
2. A complete prohibition against officiating at the remarriage of a
Jew whose previous marriage has not been halakhically terminated,
whether by a halakhic divorce [get], hafka'at Kiddushin [annulment
of the marriage], or death.
3. A complete prohibition against taking any action that would
intimate that native Jewishness can be confirmed in any way but
4. A complete prohibition against supervising a conversion to Judaism
that does not include circumcision for males, and immersion in a
mikveh for both males and females.
Conservative Judaism hold that the laws of the Torah and Talmud are of
divine origin, and thus mandates the following of Halakha (Jewish
law). At the same time, the Conservative movement recognizes the human
element in the Torah and Talmud, and accepts modern scholarship which
shows that Jewish writings also show the influence of other cultures,
and in general can be treated as historical documents.
The movement believes that G-d is real and that G-d's will is made
known to humanity through revelation. The revelation at Sinai was the
clearest and most public of such divine revelations, but revelation
also took place with other people - called prophets - and in a more
subtle form, and can happen even today.
These concepts are very complex, and readers are referred to Emet
VeEmunah, published jointly by the Rabbinical Assembly and USCJ.
Many people misinterpret Conservative Judaism as being like Reform
Judaism except with more Hebrew in its services; They believe that if
one simply goes to a Conservative synagogue, then one is a
Conservative Jew. This of course is not true, and the movement's
leadership is strongly concerned with whether or not the next
generation of Conservative Jews will have the commitment to lead an
authentic Jewish lifestyle.
Derivation of the Movement's Name
The name derives from the idea that the movement would be necessary to
conserve Jewish traditions in the U.S., a culture in which Reform and
Orthodoxy were not believed to be viable.
Conservative Judaism in Israel
Conservative Judaism begun to make its presence known in Israel before
the 1960s. Today, there are over 40 congregations with over 12,000
affiliates. In 1962 the Seminary began creating Neve Schechter, the
University's Jerusalem campus. This center houses the Schocken Center
for Jewish Research, and the Saul Liberman Institute for Talmudic
Research. In 1975 a new Rabbinical School curriculum instituted a year
of study in Israel as a requirement for every seminary rabbinical
In 1979 Chancellor Gerson Cohen announced the creation of the Masorti
(Traditional) movement as Israel's own indigenous Conservative
movement, with its own executive director, board and executive
committee. Today the Masorti movement is an independent Israeli
organization, that is parallel to, and not a subset of, the USCJ.
There is cooperation on a large number of projects and issues. Many
members of the Masorti movement are also members of the Rabbinical
The Masorti movement created MERCAZ, a party within the structure of
the World Zionist Organization. The Conservative movement is thus
officially represented in the centers of decision making within the
The Masorti movement sponsors youth groups, an overnight camp, a
system of day camps, Kibbutz Hanaton and its Education Center and
Moshav Shorashim, and special programs teaching new Russian and
Ethiopian olim (immigrants) basic Judaism. It is involved in many
issues promoting the rights of non-orthodox, traditional Jews.
The movement also sponsors "The Center for Conservative Judaism in
Jerusalem" 2 Agron Street, P.O. Box 7456, Jerusalem 94265. Phone
02-257-463 FAX 972-02-234127. The Center provides activities and
resources such as: daily study Havurot; headquarters for the Israel
operations of USY; campus outreach programs at Israeli universities; a
resource center for those making Aliyah from our Movement; A youth
hostel, the "Neshama" program for Schechter High School Seniors as
well a variety of educational programs. Adjacent to the Center is
Congregation Moreshet Israel providing daily, Shabbat, and festival
services. The Center will provide outreach to movement members of all
ages who are in Israel, including home hospitality, and support
Sources of More Information
Additional information may be found in the Conservative Reading
List, available at www.scjfaq.org/rl/jcu-index.html or via the
SCJFAQ autoretriever. Also worth exploring is the home page for the
United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism (UCSJ)
<http://www.uscj.org>. Another source of information is the
Conservative and Masorti Judaism FAQs
[*: This source is controversial on soc.culture.jewish. There do not
appear to be major disputes with its representations of
Conservative/Masorti positions. However, some on the newsgroup dispute
its representation of the positions of other movements.]
For more information on Masorti, see <http://www.masorti.org/>.
Interested readers might also want to look at the following documents
available via WWW:
* Ismar Schorsch's "Core Values" of Conservative Judaism (a
Subject: Question 2.4: What is Orthodox Judaism?
Orthodox Judaism is not a unified movement with a single governing
body, but rather many different movements adhering to common
principles. All of the Orthodox movements are very similar in their
observance and beliefs, differing only in the details that are
emphasized. They also differ in their attitudes toward modern culture
and the state of Israel. They all share one key feature: a dedication
to Torah, both Written and Oral.
Origins of the Movement
Historically, there was no such thing as Orthodoxy; in fact, you find
the particular term is used primarily in North America (elsewhere, the
distinction is primarily between "more observant" and "less
observant"). The specific term "Orthodox Judaism" is of rather recent
origin and is used more as a generic term to differentiate the
movements following traditional practices from the Liberal Jewish
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 Judaism believes that both the Written and Oral Torah are of
divine origin, and represent the word of G-d*. This is similar to the
view of the Conservative movement, but the Orthodox movement holds
that such information (except for scribal errors) is the exact word of
G-d, and does not represent any human creativity or influence. For the
details of the Orthodox view of the origin of Torah, see Section
3.4. For the Orthodox, the term "Torah" refers to the "Written Law" as
interpreted by the "Oral Law", interpreted in turn by the Rishonim
(Medieval commentators), and eventually codified in the Codices: R.
Joseph Karo's Shul`han Arukh and/or R. Moshe Isserlis's Mapah (printed
as parenthetical text in the Shul`han Arukh). As practical questions
arise, Orthodox Authorities apply the Halachic process (the system of
legal reasoning and interpretation described in the Oral Torah) using
the Torah (both Oral and Written) to determine how best to live in
accordance with G-d's will as directed by the Halacha. In this way,
Orthodoxy evolves to meet the demands of the times.
An excellent summary of the core beliefs of Orthodox Judaism may be
found in the Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith. [For those reading
the posted version of this, they may be found in Section 4.7 of the
One of the hallmarks of Orthodox Jews is an openness (and
encouragement) to question what it is that G-d requires of us, and
then to answer those questions within the system that G-d gave us.
In addition, among the major movements only Orthodoxy has preserved
the "mystical" foundations of Jewish theology, most obviously in the
Chasidic movements though no less so in many Yeshivah movements, both
Ashkenazi and Sephardi.
Sources for More Information
Additional information may be found in the Traditional Reading
List, found at http://www.scjfaq.org/rl/tra-index.html.
[*: Some Orthodox Jews include the commentaries and responsa
literature as part of "Torah". Such works are human attempts to divine
the meaning of the Written and Oral Torah.]
Subject: Question 2.5: What is Reform/Progressive Judaism?
Reform is the most liberal of the major movements within Judaism
today. It started in the 1800s in Germany during the emancipation, and
encouraged examination of religion with an eye towards rationality and
egalitarianism. Viewed from the light of today's Reform practice, the
original adherents went a little-too-far; often, this early form
(which lasted until the 1960s, in some respects) is referred to as
"Classic German Reform".
Reform differs from the other major movements in that it views both
the Oral and Written laws as a product of Man's hand (specifically, it
views the Torah as Divinely inspired, but written in the language of
the time in which it was given). The laws reflect their times, but
contain many timeless truths. The Reform movement stresses retention
of the key principles of Judaism (as it sees them; for details,
consult the Reform Reading List). As for practice, it strongly
recommends individual study of the traditional practices; however, the
adherent is free to follow only those practices that increase the
sanctity of their relationship to G-d. Reform also stresses equality
between Men and Women. The current statement of principles of Reform
may be found in the 1999 Statement of Principles
(http://www.ccarnet.org/platforms/principles.html), and in the
1976 Centenary Perspective
(http://www.ccarnet.org/platforms/centenary.html). Reform is
recently rededicating itself to Torah and education. This is
emphasized in the installation speech of the current president of
the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (the Reform congregational
arm), Rabbi Eric Yoffie. The speech may be found at
Reform requires familiarity with the laws before choosing not to
observe them. A non-observant Jew unfamiliar with the laws would not
be a "serious" Reform Jew. Also, Reform rejects the faith tenets of
other religions as a matter of first principles.
It should be noted that many of the paths taken by the Reform movement
differ from those of traditional Judaism. These differences result in
many of the discussions you will see on S.C.J.
Size of the Movement
In terms of size, the UAHC 1993-1994 annual report notes that there
were a total of 853 UAHC-affiliated congregations, with a total
reported congregational membership of 302,193 member units (families,
singles, etc.). This can be contrasted with the 1983-1984 period,
where there were 773 congregations with a total of 269,406 member
units. Congregations range in size from a 2-member-unit congregation
in Port Gibson, Mississippi, to "mega"-shuls such as Wilshire Blvd
Temple in Los Angeles (2,123 member units), Anshe Chesed in Cleveland
Ohio (2,151), Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto Ontario (2,043), Temple
Israel in Minneapolis Minnesota (2,075), Washington Hebrew
Congregation in Washington DC (2,783), Congregation Emanu-El in New
York City (2,650), Temple Israel in W. Bloomfield Michigan (2,659),
Temple Emanu-El in Dallas Texas (2,526), and Cong. Beth Israel in
Houston Texas (2,011).
Sources of More Information
This FAQ contains much additional detail on Reform, it's theology,
it's origins, and how it has changes from its more "rejectionist"
beginnings. This information may be found in the
Reform/Progressive portion of this FAQ. For further reading,
consult the Reform Reading List.
Subject: Question 2.6: What about other movements?
Philosophically, Reconstructionism has its roots in the work of
Mordechai Kaplan, who argued for a naturalistic conception of G-d and
a functionalist view of Judaism as a religious civilization. He
acknowledged that Jewish communities have always evolved to adapt to
their historical circumstances, and was particularly interested in the
ways in which American Judaism could construct communities that would
permit its members to live in two civilizations (American and Jewish)
at once, participating fully in each of them.
Kaplan's conception of G-d was a transnatural one -- he spoke of "the
power in the Universe that makes for salvation", rather than an
anthropomorphic G-d intervening to reward and punish. As a result, the
tradition we have inherited (e.g. keeping shabbat and kashrut, the
text of our liturgy, etc.) is our cultural inheritance of how our
ancestors related to this power in the universe -- it is not an
unchanging divine mandate. Our tradition should, indeed must, be
reconstructed in each generation to reflect our own understanding of
this relationship -- as Kaplan said, "The past has a vote, not a
Kaplan's conception of G-d spoke of "the power in the Universe that
makes for salvation", rather than an anthropomorphic G-d intervening
to reward and punish. By salvation, he meant the power to improve
oneself, not any sort of religious salvation.
The philosophy of the movement contains a principle called
"Transvaluation". This means that any person (at least the leaders of
the movement) have the right to re-define a word to make it mean what
they want. Kaplan did not believe in G-d, but he did believe that
nature existed; he also believed that the universe was open to the
possibility that people could better themselves. Kaplan "transvalued"
the word "G-d" to mean the nature of the world. As a result, people
who no longer believed in the traditional Jewish conception of G-d
could now call themselves "religious" and could say that they "believe
in G-d". This system proved quite appealing to a large number of
people who had a deep love for the Jewish way of life, but who were
not religious in the traditional sense.
Kaplan's personal theology was extremely rationalistic, but in forming
his movement's seminary he probably did not realize the long term
effects. He set up a seminary in which people could train to be
Reconstructionist rabbis. In doing so he encouraged the study of
religious texts, even if he himself discouraged what most people would
call "religion". What eventually began to happen was obvious in
hindsight: Hundreds of committed Jews studied for years in a religious
environment, and they began to do what Kaplan rejected his whole life:
They began to believe in the traditional Jewish G-d, especially as G-d
was envisioned by the Medieval Kabbalists. As a result, many people in
the Reconstructionist community now have a traditional Jewish belief
One hallmark of the Reconstructionist community has been its
flourishing creativity. It has been at the forefront of many modern
trends in Judaism, especially in the egalitarian approach to religious
life and liturgy.
In terms of size, the Reconstructionist movement is smaller than the
Reform or Conservative movements. Reconstructionist communities are
generally quite spiritually open, and quite accepting of
Where to Get More Information
The organization of Reconstructionist Congregations is called the
Jewish Reconstruction Federation <http://www.jrf.org>.
Additional information may be found in the Reconstructionist
Reading List, available at http://www.scjfaq.org/rl/jrc-index.html..
Traditional Judaism (formerly "Conservadox")
This is a primarily North American movement that has nothing in common
with "traditional" Jews in Israel. It is a relatively new offshoot
from Conservative, but philosophically closer to Orthodox. They
attempt to be as lenient as possible within an Orthodox framework,
although many Orthodox would not accept their leniencies, such as
using microphones on shabbat. It has yet to be determined if
conversions and divorces under Traditional auspices are acceptable
within the Orthodox world.
There is an umbrella organization for the organized "Traditional"
movement (please contrast this usage with the generic term
"traditional"). This organization is the Union for Traditional
Judaism. More information can be found on their home page,
Humanistic Judaism practices a non-theistic form of Judaism. For those
involved in Humanistic Judaism, Judaism is the culture and the
historical experience of the Jewish people. Jewish history has taught
us to rely on human power to discover truth. It is a break from both
Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism because it does not use theistic
language in its liturgy.
Humanistic Judaism acknowledges that it is possible to integrate
knowledge of and respect for other beliefs into the education of a
child being raised in Humanistic Judaism, without confusing or
intermingling distinct and different religious traditions, and without
mixing or compromising the child's identification with Judaism.
Specifically, the Jewish members of a mixed family may participate in
the cultural observances of the non-Jewish members as guests of the
latter, not as celebrants. Humanistic Judaism does not approve of the
concept of mixing or joining religious identities with other faiths.
Additional information may be found in the Humanistic Reading List,
available at www.scjfaq.org/rl/jsh-index.html. A web page of links
and information about Humanistic Judaism is available at URL:
You can also contact:
* Society for Humanistic Judaism
28611 W. Twelve Mile Road
Farmington Hills MI 48334
+1 810 478-7610
or drop a note to email@example.com (Society for Humanistic Judaism).
Home page: www.shj.org. There is an electronic mailing list for
those with an interest in exploring and/or furthering the development
of Humanistic Judaism. The list is hjmail, it is available through
Readers interested in Humanistic Judaism might also want to contact
the sister organization to SHJ, the Congress of Secular Jewish
Organizations (www.csjo.org). Written inquiries may be sent to:
* Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations
19657 Villa Drive North
Southfield, MI 48076
+1 248 569-8127
Subject: Question 2.7: What are some of the Orthodox sub-groups?
The term "Traditional" has often been used as a synonym for Orthodox
(especially when using the dichotomy Traditional/Liberal). However in
recent years this useage has become less common: A faction broke off
from the Conservative movement, and took the name "The Union for
Traditional Judaism" (UTJ); its members are known as Traditional Jews.
UTJ is a trans-denominational organization, working with the broad
spectrum of Jews, and is not part of Modern Orthodoxy or any other
denomination. Their "hashkafa" is in line with what many people might
think of as Modern Orthodox, although in some ways it may be the left
of standard Modern Orthodoxy and in other ways it may be to the right
of Modern Orthodoxy. They shun denominational lables in order to get
beyond the politics of religion, so that they can work with all Jews
in supporting the practice of halachic Judaism.
Note also that the Conservative movement in Israel and Europe is
called Masorti (Traditional) Judaism. As such, fewer people use the
term "traditional" without additional qualification, so as to avoid
confusion. In the FAQ, the term "traditional" (little-t) is used in
the generic sense, while "Traditional" (big-T) is used to refer to
UTJ. "Masorti" is used to the Conservative Movement in Israel and
The following are some of the major divisions within Orthodoxy:
"Centrist/modern/cosmopolitan" (colloquially [sometimes pejorative,
sometimes affectionate] "kipa sruga" [crocheted skull cap]) Orthodox
usually mean an Orthodoxy which approves of many aspects of secular
culture, especially secular education, in addition to traditional
Torah study. They tend to be Zionist. The precise term depends on the
speaker - R' Norman Lamm uses "centrist," R' Shlomo Riskin uses
"cosmopolitan" and R' Emmanuel Rackman uses "modern." The Union of
Orthodox Jewish Congregations, Yeshiva University, and the Rabbinical
Council of America in some sense represents this group. In Israel, the
Mizrachi organization is a well-known representative.
Some of the Liberal Orthodox/Open Orthodox/Modern Orthodox groups
* Edah (http://www.edah.org/); 47 West 34th Street, Suite 700;
New York, NY 10001; (212) 244-7501; Fax: (212) 244-7855.
* OzVe Shalom-Netivot Shalom (Israel).
* The Shalom Hartman Institute (Israel).
(http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/hartman/) 12 G'dalyahu Alon St.,
Jerusalem, Israel Tel: 02-5675320 FAX: 02-5611913 E-Mail:
* Meimad (Israel). (http://www.meimad.org.il/)
* The Orthodox Caucus. (http://www.orthodoxcaucus.org/)
* Jewish Orthodox Feminists Alliance (http://www.jofa.org/)
Modern/Centrist Orthodox groups include the following:
* The Union for Orthodox Congregations (OU) and the Rabbinical
Council of America (RCA). http://www.ou.org
* The National Council for Young Israel, and the Council of Young
Israel Rabbis. http://youngisrael.org/
* The United Synagogue of England.
"Yeshivish" (colloquially, [sometimes pejorative, sometimes
affectionate] "black hat" or "black") suggests an Orthodox outlook in
which the focus of life is Torah study, as is done in Lithuanian-style
Yeshivos. Secular culture is either tolerated or criticized for its
corrupting influences. This group tends to be "non-Zionist" in the
sense that they love the land of Israel and its holiness (many spend
years in Israel for Torah study), but are unenthusiastic about secular
Zionism and Israeli secular culture. In America, Agudah Yisroel is
yeshivish. In Israel, Agudah Yisroel is chassidic, and Degel haTorah
is yeshivish. This is partially because in America, the Agudah is a
communal organization that runs a number of charitable, humaniterean
and outreach projects and lobbies and advocates for the rights of
Torah-observant Jews and to protect and strengthen Torah observance.
In Israel, on the other hand, 'Agudath Israel' is a political party
that holds seats in the parliament. The Shas contingency are generally
considered to be in the 'Charedei' camp.
Some examples of such Orthodox groups include the following:
* The Rabbinical Alliance of the Commonwealth of Independent States
(One of the rabbinic organizations in the former Soviet Union)
* The Chief Rabbinate of Israel
* Agudath Israel of America; 84 William St., New York, NY 10038;
* Agudath HaRabonim - The Union of Orthodox Rabbis Of The United
States and Canada, 235 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002; (212)
964-6337, (212) 964-6338
The Chassidic style of Orthodox Judaism is described in a later
In Israel, the "Dati/Chareidi" distinction is more a matter of
attitude towards Zionism than of political affiliation or religious
views. The Dati tend to be more supportive of Zionism, with the
Chareidi not having much belief in the modern Jewish state. Please
note that these are general positions; individual members may hold
different views and your milage may vary. Note that there are lots of
debates over these classifications, so nothing here is cast in stone.
Some other useful resources to explore the wide variety of Orthodox
* Prof. Eli Segal's "Varieties of Orthodox Judaism"
. This web page contains detailed entries on: Hasidism, The
Opposition to Hasidism: Misnagdim, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and
Neo-Orthodoxy, Lithuanian Hasidism: Chabad Lubavitch, The
Lithuanian Yeshivahs, Rabbi Israel Salanter and the Musar
(Ethical) Movement, The Aguddat Israel Movement, Orthodox Zionism,
American Centrist/Modern Orthodoxy, Orthodox Anti-Zionism: Naturei
Karta, Rabbi Eliezer Shach and Lithuanian Anti-Zionism, Sepharadic
Orthodox Movements, and Messianic Orthodoxy: Gush Emunim.
Subject: Question 2.8: What is Chassidism and how does it differ from other
The Chassidic movement started in the 1700's (Common Era) in Eastern
Europe in response to a void felt by many average observant Jews of
the day. The founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov
(referred to as the "Besht," an acronym of his name) was a great
scholar and mystic, devoted to both the revealed, outer aspect, and
hidden, inner aspect of Torah. He and his followers, without veering
from a commitment to Torah, created a way of Jewish life that
emphasized the ability of all Jews to grow closer to G-d via
everything that we do, say, and think. In contrast to the somewhat
intellectual style of the mainstream Jewish leaders of his day and
their emphasis on the primacy of Torah study, the Besht emphasized a
constant focus on attachment to G-d and Torah no matter what one is
After the Besht died in 1760, the leadership of the second generation
of the movement passed to Dov Baer of Mezhirech. From his court
students went forth who were successful in attracting many scholars to
Chassidism and sending them to the master at Mezhirech to absorb his
teaching. By the 1830s the main surge of the spread of Chassidism was
over. By this time, it had become the way of life of the majority of
Jews in the Ukraine, Galicia, and central Poland, and had sizable
groups of followers in Belorussia-Lithuania and Hungary. With the
great waves of emigration to the West from 1881, Chassidism was
carried into Western Europe and especially to the United States.
Early on, there was a schism between the Chassidic and non-Chassidic
(i.e. Misnagdim, lit. 'opponents') Jewish movements, primarily over
real or imagined issues of halachic observance. The opposition was
based on concern that the Chassidim were neglecting the laws regarding
appropriate times for prayer, and perhaps concern about the exuberance
of Chassidic worship, or a concern that it might be an offshoot of
false messiahs Shabbtai Zvi or Jacob Frank. Within a generation or two
the rift was closed. Since then, many Chassidic practices have
influenced the Misnagdim, while the Misnagdim, in turn, moderated some
of the extremes of early Chassidism. Nevertheless, the dispute between
particular groups of Chassidim and Misnagdim continues to this day,
especially in Israel, and occasionally on soc.culture.jewish.
In the period leading up to World War II, various chassidic sects
entered the political life of modern states. However, after 1850 the
expansion of Chassidism stopped. The ideas of the Enlightenment,
national and socialist ideals, and the Zionist movements shook the
traditional Jewish way of life. Chassidism opposed any change in the
way of life and sheltered itself from new forces in Judaism.
During the Holocaust the chassidic centers of Eastern Europe were
destroyed. The masses of Chassidim perished and, together with them,
most of the chassidic leaders. Many who survived who survived moved to
Israel or America, and established new chassidic centers. In parallel,
the philosophy of Martin Buber and Abraham Joshua Heschel, and the
works of writers such as Peretz helped to mold a new generation of
Chassidism, which had a considerable influence on modern Jewish
culture and youth. Although some sects have remained self-segregated,
many sects have become part of everyday modern life. Since the 1970s,
Chassidism have maintained a period of expansion and development.
Today, Chassidim are differentiated from other Orthodox Jews by their
devotion to a dynastic leader (referred to as a "Rebbe"), their
wearing of distinctive clothing, and a greater than average study of
the inner aspects of Torah.
There are perhaps a dozen major Chassidic movements today, the best
known of which (with perhaps 100,000 followers) is the Lubavitch group
headquartered in Brooklyn NY. Other groups include the Bobov,
Bostoner, Belzer, Gerer, Satmar, Vizhnitz, Breslov, Puppa, Bianer,
Munkacz, and Rimnitz. In Israel, the major Chassidic groups after the
Lubavitch group are: Gor (-Gerer), Viznitz, and Bealz (=Belzer).
Additional information may be found in the Chasidism Reading List,
available at http://www.scjfaq.org/rl/joc-index.html.
Subject: Question 2.9: What is Lubavitch Chasidism and Chabad?
Lubavitch Chasidism, most commonly presented through its
organizational arm Chabad, is one of the better known groups within
Chasidism (although there are others). It is an international movement
with headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.
Its major thrust focuses on observing for one's self and transmitting
to others the beauty, depth, awareness and joy inherent in the
Torah-true way of life. By doing so, it strives to revitalize Jewish
life by intensifying the individual's relationship to G-d, and deep
sense of devotion and love towards one's fellow man.
The name Chabad (Chochmah, Binah, Daat) refers to the three
intellectual sephiros (Divine Emanations); the philosophy of the
founder, the Alter Rebbe, stressed the use of the intellect to guide
the emotions. Thus, each individual chassid had to work on
himself/herself, rather than simply rely on the Rebbe/Tzaddik's
saintliness. Another name used in Lubavitch Chassidism is ChaGat
(Chessed, Gevurah, Tiferes), which refers to the first three of the
seven emotional sephiros/character attributes which derive from
Chabad. The empahsis in Chagat Chassidus is on emotional fervor and
devotion (the Baal Shem Tov's counter to the dry intellectualism
mentioned earlier.) Consequently, a chassid must attach
himself/herself to the Rebbe and let his righteousness carry the
The Lubavitch Rebbe, as Nasi HaDor (leader of the generation) has the
responsibility of setting the direction of the generation.
Chabad-Lubavitch philosophy promotes an intellectual perspective that
strives to helps an individual live in full accordance with the
Torah-true way of life.
Chabad-Lubavitch operates an extensive outreach effort to encourage
Jews to return to traditional practices. As part of this effort,
Chabad operates the Mitzvah Campaigns. The vanguard of the Mitzvah
Campaigns are the "Mitzvah Tanks". The goal of the Mitzvah Campaign is
to encourage Jews to perform 10 specific mitzvos, the intention being
that through their fulfillment, the individual and the family will
come to experience a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with
their Jewish Heritage. These Mitzvot are:
1. Ahavas Yisroel: The love of one's fellow Jew.
2. Chinuch: Torah Education
3. Torah Study.
4. Tefillin: The donning of Tefillin, every weekday, by men and boys
5. Mezuzoh: The Jewish Sign
6. Tzedokoh: Giving charity every weekday.
7. Posession of Jewish Holy Books
8. Lighting Shabbos and Festival Candles. Chabad provides a Free
Shabbat Kit, available by calling the Rebitzen at +1 310 326-8234.
For Candle lighting times anywhere in the USA call 718-774-3000.
9. Kashrus: The Jewish Dietary Laws
10. Taharas Hamishpocho: The Torah perspective on married life
Chabad also urges that efforts be made to inform the public at large
about the nature and meaning of the Seven Laws of Noah. Additional
information on the Noachide Laws may be found in Part 6 of the S.C.J
FAQ, Question 12.19, "What does Judaism say about non-Jews?"
Additional information on Chabad may be found in the Chassidic
Reading List portion of the S.C.J FAQ.
Chabad-Lubavitch is also reachable through the internet; for more
information, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Information
is also available via WWW or Mosaic via the following URL:
Subject: Question 2.10: What is Breslov Chasidism?
The Breslov (sometimes called Bratzlav) movement was founded by Rabbi
Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810), who was the great-grandson of the Baal
Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidism, through his granddaughter Feige.
For this reason, Rebbe Nachman often called himself "Nachman, son of
Feige." Today, Breslover Chassidim usually refer to him as "Rebbe
Nachman" or simply "the Rebbe" (different from the Lubovitcher Rebbe
described above). Rebbe Nachman is buried in the town of Uman,
Ukraine. Each year there is a major pilgrimage of Breslover Chassidim
and others, who travel to Uman to celebrate Rosh Hashanah near the
gravesite. This custom dates back to the very beginning of the Breslov
movement, when Rebbe Nachman's Chassidim would gather with him on Rosh
Hashanah each year. After his death, his closest disciple, Rabbi
Nathan of Nemirov, organized the first pilgrimage to Uman. During the
Communist years, it was very difficult for Jews to travel to Uman but,
with the fall of Communism in 1989, it became possible to make the
pilgrimage again. On Rosh Hashanah 5758 (1997) an estimated 7000 Jews
participated in this pilgrimage. Plans are currently under way to
build a Breslov synagogue there. You can read about one Breslover
Chassid's personal experiences in Uman at
Why "Breslov" and not "Bratzlav?" Because Breslov is not the same
place as Bratzlav or Breslau or Bratislava, although all of these
errors occur in academic works about Rebbe Nachman's life. The Breslov
where Rebbe Nachman lived is a small Ukranian town, located on the Bug
River, latitude 48.50 N longitude 28.55 E, midway between Tulchin to
the south and Nemirov to the north; 9 miles or 15 kilometers from
each. At the end of the eighteenth century, Breslov had a Jewish
population of just over a thousand. It had a main synagogue and six
small prayer houses, one of which was known as the Baal Shem Tov
Some people also see the name Breslov as a play on words in Askenazic
Hebrew: "Bris lev" means "covenant (or circumcision) of the heart."
The Breslov approach places great stress on serving G-d with joy and
living life as intensely as possible. "It's a great mitzvah always to
be happy," Rebbe Nachman taught.
One distinctively Breslov practice is "hisboddidus" (hitbadedut),
which literally means "to make yourself be in solitude." Hisboddidus
is a personalized form of free-flowing prayer and meditation. In
addition to the regular daily services in the prayerbook, Breslover
Hasidim try to spend an hour alone with G-d each day, pouring out
their thoughts and concerns in whatever language they speak, as if
talking to a close personal friend. (One does not have to be a
Breslover Chassid to practice this technique.)
Rebbe Nachman stressed the importance of soul-searching. He always
maintained that his high spiritual level was due to his own efforts,
and not to his famous lineage or any circumstances of birth. He
repeatedly insisted that all Jews could reach the same level as he,
and spoke out very strongly against those who thought that the main
reason for a Tzaddik's greatness was the superior level of his soul.
"Everyone can attain the highest level," Rebbe Nachman taught, "It
depends on nothing but your own free choice... for everything depends
on a multitude of deeds." (See Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom, p.29)
Although Rebbe Nachman died almost 200 years ago, he is still
considered to be the leader of the movement through the guidance of
his books and stories. Breslover Chassidim today do not have a "Rebbe
in the flesh," and each individual Chassid is free to go to any Jewish
guide or teacher he (or she) feels comfortable with. There is no
single person or council of elders "in charge" of the Breslov
movement, and there is no membership list.
Further information about Breslov can be found in the reading list on
Chassidism at http://www.scjfaq.org/rl/joc-index.html and at the
"Breslov -- Judaism with a Heart" website (http://www.breslov.org).
The Breslov on the Internet page at has a link launcher to many
other Breslov-related sites.
Subject: Question 2.11: What is Satmar Chasidism?
Satmar is another major form of Chasidism. The name comes from the
city of Satu Mare, in present-day Romania. Satmar has tens of
thousands of adherents.
Satmar was founded by Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum (1887-1979); it is now led
by his nephew Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum. Satmar is based in the
Williamsburg section of New York City and in the nearby Hasidic
village of Kiryas Yoel. Although Satmar is large and very influential,
it has not received much positive publicity, and is often subject to
Rebbi Yoel Teitelbaum's major work was the Kuntress "Vayoel Moshe", in
which he lays out his theory on the 'Three Oaths' that according to
him forbid a Jew from creating a Jewish state in Eretz Yisroel before
the coming of moshiach. His thought has been challenged by other
chachomim, a notorious example of which is R' Meir Kahane in his sefer
Satmar Chassidim are "notorious" for giving and raising tzedakah. This
doesn't usually get as much attention as their anti-Zionist beliefs.
There are many excellent books on Satmar. These are listed in the
Satmar portion of the Reading List.
Credit: Some of the information in this section was provided by Justin
Jaron Lewis, Rabbi of Congregation Iyr HaMelech of Kingston, Ontario,
from article on Satmar in "Readers Guide to Judaism" [ed. Michael
Terry], published in Chicago by Fitzroy Dearborn in the year 2000.
Subject: Question 2.12: What other forms of Chasidism?
So far, the FAQ has mentioned Lubavitch, Breslov, and Satmar. However,
there are lots of forms of Chasidism (and, alas, before the Shoah,
there were even more). Some of the better known forms not discussed so
far include: Amshinov, Alecsander, Belzer, Bobover, Bostoner, Boyaner,
Ger (Gur), Karlin-Stoliner, Kloisenberger, Lalover, Modzitzer,
Muncatz, Pupa, Radziner, Skvirer, Slonimer, Spink, Tauscher, and
Vizhnitzer. In Israel the Gerrer Hasidim are probably the most
numerous, followed by the Belzers, Vizhnitzers, and Lubavichers. In
addition, there are small sub-groupings like the Toldos Aharon
haredim, who share many traditions with Satmar. Quite a few of these
follow the Satmar position on not recognizing the Zionist state, such
as Spink, Pupa, Toldos Aharon/Toldos Avrohom Yitzchak, Tseihelm, etc.
as well as non-Chassidic communities such as Brisk and many
Chasidism was founded by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, who lived in
Poland and Ukraine in the early 1700's. He travelled from village to
village, having different students in each. These students later
founded schools... and over time, these various schools became the
different forms that we see today. Each form is centered on the
teachings of a particular Rebbe. The forms are usually named after the
Rebee's town. The differences among the forms can be in worship style,
customs, dress, philosophy, or political views.
Subject: Question 2.13: What are OCR (O-C-R) wars? Why all the flames?
These are disputes among Orthodox-Conservative-Reform Jews, perhaps
the most regular and least productive discussion topic.
Why is this? Perhaps it's a carryover from Talmudic study, in which
decisions are reached by proposing a series of ideas, vigorously
attacking them, and seeing which remain standing when the dust clears.
Everyone is expected to be able to state his first principles and
demonstrate how his practices are consistent with said principles.
If the correctness of one of your practices is attacked, the best
defense is to show that it is consistent with your principles, but not
the attacker's. Once a debate boils down to different principles,
there's nothing more to add, except to try to change each others'
Another form of attack is to assert that another group's practices
harm the Jewish people or Jewish survival. That group may well
disagree with your assessment. If the different assessments are due to
different principles, there's nothing more to add.
Before jumping into the RCO pot, consider the following story, which
was shared by David Kaufmann:
Rabbi Manis Friedman, at a lecture to the women's organizations of
a Reform synagogue and Chabad (co-sponsored by both), gave the
The Jewish people are like children of a father gone on a long
journey. They argue over what type of soup their father wants when
he comes back - and are busy preparing the soup. "Father will want
chicken soup, just like he did before." "No, Father wanted chickens
soup then, now he'll want vegetable soup." When the father returns,
what will matter is that the children cared most about what their
father wanted and tried to have it ready for him.
Subject: Question 2.14: But Reform Judaism isn't Judaism? Why don't they see
One of the great temptations facing Orthodox (and some Conservative)
Jews on SCJ is the opportunity for bashing the Reform movement.
It is easy to understand the temptation; Non-Reform Jews clearly
disagree with some very significant aspects of the Reform movement.
They feel that doctrines of the Reform movement are wrong, and that
many of their strategies (e.g., the best way to deal with such
problems as intermarriage and non-observance) are ill-advised.
Furthermore, because they have a strong sense of community with all
Jews, Orthodox Jews are often pained by some aspects of the Reform
As tempting as Reform-bashing is, it should be avoided for several
First, distressingly large number of R-bashing posts are simply "I
hate Reform" statements without any further information or
justification or rationale. They add little to any discussion.
Second, far too many R-bashing posts are based on misinformation.
Sometimes the R-bashing statements are absolutely contrary to
O-halakha; how often have you read "R Jews are NOT Jews." In other
instances, statements are posted such as "Reform rabbis are in favor
of intermarriage" or "Reform rabbis co-officiate with non-Jewish
clergy at interfaith weddings." The former is not true (although some
Reform rabbis will officiate at intermarriages, they do not favor
them), and the latter is rarely true. "There are no fourth-generation
Reform Jews" or "Fourth-generation Reform Jews are all Unitarians" are
both simply untrue. To learn the truth about Reform/Progressive
Judaism, interested readers should look at the Reform/Progressive
Section of the FAQ.
Third, irrelevant and usually unsubstantiated arguments are often
made. Whether there will be many or few Reform Jews in 50 years is
heavily conjectural, rarely backed by data, and irrelevant to the
question of the correctness of the Reform movement. Think: 50 years
ago, who would have predicted the present apparent resurgence of
Fourth, these rather crude forms of R-bashing do not simply reflect
poorly on the poster; far more significantly (from an Orthodox
perspective), they reflect poorly on Orthodoxy. Remember that there
are many more lurkers than there are posters. One of the great
tragedies of SCJ is that too many people will read some of the crude
R-bashing messages and conclude that "If this is what Orthodoxy is all
about, I want nothing of it."
Finally (closely related to the fourth issue), R-bashing is a
spectacularly poor way to present Orthodoxy to non-Orthodox readers.
R-bashing gives the impression that the central feature of Orthodoxy
is the rejection of Reform. In doing so, R-bashing blinds readers from
seeing the beauty, the joy, the compassion, the love of Judaism and
the sanctity that Orthodox Jews find in Orthodoxy.
SCJ provides great temptations for R-bashing. But such R-bashing
inevitably degenerates to a major hilul haShem, a desecration of G-d's
name, because it inevitably offends non-Orthodox readers, and turns
them off on Orthodoxy.
SCJ also offers great opportunities for kiddush haShem, for the
sanctification of G-d's name. Many SCJ readers have never before
interacted with Orthodox Jews, and have heard only negative
stereotypes (just as many O Jews have heard only stereotypes about
By providing thoughtful, caring, compassionate, considerate, answers,
it is possible to show the positive side of Orthodoxy. By making
reasoned and reasonable comments, others can be convinced that the
Orthodox positions are reasoned and reasonable.
There are, in fact, several SCJ readers whose increased levels of
observance has been fostered by such posts in the past. And there are
other SCJ readers who were once rabidly anti-Orthodox, and whose
opposition has been somewhat softened by such posts. There is no
evidence of non-observant SCJ readers whose level of observance has
increased based on inflammatory R-bashing.
Orthodox Jews should not gloss over OCR differences, or that accept
the O-halakhic legitimacy of Reform practices. But Orthodox rejection
of Reform practices must be presented with a rationale, must be
justified, and must be polite. Orthodoxy rejects Reform practice
because Orthodoxy believe they (the practices) are wrong, not because
Reform Jews are terrible.
Subject: Question 2.15: But Orthodox Judaism isn't Judaism? Why don't they
On the other hand, SCJ also provides a temptation for Reform Jews to
bash Orthodoxy's traditional approach as outmoded and antique. Resist
Rabbi Walter Jacob said: "It is not our task as liberal Jews to
complain about the Orthodox attitude or to be bullied by it, but
rather to choose our legitimate path according to the inner logic and
development of liberal Judaism". By arguing how Orthodoxy is wrong,
you do no service to Reform. The best argument for Reform Judaism is
to present a positive image of Reform as serious, but embracing of
other forms of Judaism. It goes against Reform philosophy to claim
that Orthodoxy is not a valid expression of Judaism.
Just like Orthodox Jews, Reform Jews have a sense of community with
all Jews. Yet, Reform Jews are often pained by some aspects of
As tempting as Orthodox-bashing is, it should be avoided for several
First, distressingly large number of O-bashing posts are simply "I
hate Orthodoxy" or "I hate Orthodoxy's attitudes" statements without
any further information or justification or rationale. They add little
to any discussion.
Second, far too many O-bashing posts are based on misinformation. For
example, many discussions revolve around the O treatment of women.
However, to the O, there is nothing wrong: there are different roles,
and different roles have different obligations. The same is true for
many other O practices. Try to view the practice against the
traditional point of view; it is incorrect to judge it against the R
point of view. You may choose to disagree with the practice, but that
is your choice.
Third, many of the arguments with Orthodoxy are calling for them to
accept things that just cannot be accepted. Many Reform practices go
against traditional beliefs; to accept them would require Orthodoxy to
discard those beliefs. That's the wrong thing to ask. Focus on where
Jews are similar, not where Jews are different.
Fourth, these rather crude forms of O-bashing do not simply reflect
poorly on the poster; far more significantly (from an Reform
perspective), they reflect poorly on Reform. Remember that there are
many more lurkers than there are posters. One of the great tragedies
of SCJ is that too many people will read some of the crude O-bashing
messages and conclude that "If this is what Reform is all about, I
want nothing of it."
Finally (closely related to the fourth issue), O-bashing is a
spectacularly poor way to present Reform to non-Reform readers.
O-bashing gives the impression that the central feature of Reform is
the rejection of Orthodoxy. In doing so, O-bashing blinds readers from
seeing the beauty, the joy, the compassion, the love of Judaism and
the sanctity that Reform Jews find in Reform.
SCJ provides great temptations for O-bashing. But such O-bashing
inevitably degenerates to a major desecration of G-d's name, because
it inevitably offends readers, and turns them off of Reform.
SCJ also offers great opportunities for kiddush haShem, for the
sanctification of G-d's name. Many SCJ readers have never before
interacted with Reform Jews, and have heard only negative stereotypes
(just as many R Jews have heard only stereotypes about non-R Jews).
By providing thoughtful, caring, compassionate, considerate, answers,
it is possible to show the positive side of Reform. By making reasoned
and reasonable comments, others can be convinced that the Reform
positions are reasoned and reasonable.
Reform Jews should not gloss over OCR differences. However, the focus
should be on where the practices are congruent, and differences must
be presented with a rationale, must be justified, and must be polite.
Reform has different practices because Reform interprets the
underlying halacha differently, not because practices or beliefs are
outmoded or silly.
Subject: Question 2.16: Why shouldn't I say "ultra-Orthodox", "Reformed
Judaism", or "Humanist Judaism"?
Because such terms are inappropriate, and usually reflect a lack of
knowledge about the group in question:
* "Ultra-Orthodox". This term, when used properly, refers to the
most carefully and detailed observant among the Orthodox, and who
go to great lengths to keep away from most of Western culture. It
arose as a reaction to the "Neologue" movement in 19th century
Hungary, an extremely limp attempt at Reform (today they'd be
called modern Orthodox, but such fine gradations didn't exist
In practice, the term is usually used as a disparaging synonym for
Orthodox or Chassidic. What passes for an unremarkable level of
observance is inaccurately elevated into a form of "fanaticism".
Many people outside the Orthodox community mistakenly identify
those who wear Chassidic garb (long black coats, earlocks for men,
wigs/kerchiefs for women) as "ultra-Orthodox." In fact, the
Chassidic groups are no more or less observant than other Orthodox
groups who do not dress so distinctively.
The term "Chareidi" (literally: "trembling" as in "trembling in
awe of HaKadosh Baruch Hu (the Holy One Praised by he).") tends to
refer to the same people as described by "Ultra-Orthodox" but is
more acceptable. It hasn't caught on in the U.S. yet.
* "Reformed Judaism". The correct term for the Liberal/Progressive
Branch of Judaism is "Reform Judaism", not "ReformED Judaism".
"Reformed" implies that the adherents used to be Jews, but they
learned and are now something else (e.g., early Christians were
"Reformed" Jews). "Reform", on the other hand, indicates a belief
in the ability to change (i.e., "Reform") the practices while
still remaining Jews.
* "Humanist Judaism". The correct term for Rabbi Sherwin Wine's
movement is "Humanistic Judaism", not "Humanist Judaism".
"Humanist", similar to "Buddhist", designates an adherent of a
specific non-Jewish religion. "Humanistic Judaism" is a
non-theistic branch of Judaism, based on a humanistic
interpretation and application of Jewish traditions.
Subject: Question 2.17: How does a Chassid differ from Misnagid?
Chassidism comes in many forms. However, all chassidic leadership is
characterized by an extraordinary magnetism, given expression through
various activities and symbols. The zaddik (chassidic leader) is
believed in, devoutly admired, and obediently followed. There is a
dynastic style of leadership often developed, with generation after
generation of a certain dynasty of zaddikim following in the main its
own specific interpretation of the chassidic way of life and communal
cohesion (which has resulted in the various sects of Chassidism). The
zaddik provides the spiritual illumination for the individual Chasssid
and the Chassidic community from his own all-pervasive radiance,
attained through his mystic union with G-d. In the eyes of his
followers, the zaddik is a combination of confessor, moral instructor,
practical adviser, theoretical teacher, and exegetical preacher. Some
specific distinguishing characteristics of Chassidism is an emphasis
on the importance of a personal/ emotional/ ecstatic touch to the
doing of the mitzvos, the reliance on a Rebbe (especially for any
important life decisions), and the telling of tales.
Misnagidim/Mitnagedim, on the other hand, is a designation for the
opponents of the Chassidim. Although they have some common
characteristics, Misnagidim tend to have a pronounced skepticism and a
severe criticism of credulity and authoritarianism. Although
originally the name arose from the bitter opposition to the Chassidic
movement, in the course of time it lost its connotation of actual
strife, and became a positive description. Elijah b. Solomon Zalman,
the Gaon of Vilna (1720-1797), gave impetus to the rise of the
Misnaggedim, and the way of life became characteristic of Lithuanian
Jewry. After the death of Elijah the Gaon of Vilna, the struggle
between the Chassidim and the Misnaggedim assumed even more bitter
proportions, with mutual recrimination, but by the second half of the
19th century the hostility began to subside. One of the causes of the
cessation of hostilities was the common front that both formed against
the Haskalah [enlightenment and emancipation].
Here's another way to look at it. Chassidim see the point of Judaism
in terms of being close to G-d (deveiqus, attachment). Misnagdim see
it in terms of self-perfection (temimus, wholeness and perfection).
This is why a chassid would be more concerned about being able to have
proper concentration and focus (kavanah) for prayer, while a misnagid
would be more concerned about the proper time (zerizus and zehirus,
promptness and care for detail). In reality, these are two aspects of
the same idea, but stressing different aspects leads to differences in
practice and mindset.
Subject: Question 2.18: What is a "Torah Jew?"
The expression "the Torah world" and "Torah Jew" tends to be used
primarily by the "yeshivish" world, as other groups prefer other
buzzwords. But many other Jews object to the term, as they also claim
to be true to Torah principles in their practice.
In general, if someone dislikes a particular term, switch to another
term which conveys the same information.
Subject: Question 2.19: What about homosexual Jews?
Traditional Judaism considers particular common homosexual sexual
activities as an abomination (see Question 12.28). The more liberal
movements (such as Reform) make no statements about the sexual acts,
but do not feel that homosexuals should be discriminated against due
to sexual orientation. Great debates have raged on S.C.J regarding the
extent to which Jewish practices and congregational life should
Nevertheless, as with society as a whole, there are members of the
Jewish community who are homosexual. A support page
(<http://www.usc.edu/Library/oneigla/tb/>) has been established on the
web for those individuals.
For additional information, readers might want to consult the
* Orthodox Jewish responses to homosexuality:
* Essay by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Oxford, UK:
* http://www.gayjews.org/. This is a web page and resource for
Orthodox/Traditional Jews who are homosexual. It also maintains
some resources from non-Orthodox rabbis, both official positions
as well as personal position papers.
Conservative Judaism has issued four separate teshuvot (responsa) on
homosexuality, all of which were used as backing sources for a unified
movement consensus position. The CJLS consensus position is that given
the current state of scientific, psychological and biological
information on the origin and nature of homosexuality, homosexual
relationships nevertheless can not be judged to be in accord with
halakha (Jewish law). Some of the responsa note that there are certain
leninencies in the law and potential legal novellae which may be
utilized, depending on new information which may be discovered.
* The Conservative movement does not ordain homosexuals as rabbis or
cantors, because these positions are considered to be the most
important halakhic role models.
* The Conservative movement does not approve of homosexual marriages
or committment ceremonies.
* The Conservative movement does allow homosexual men and women to
otherwise participate fully in synagogue life and the Jewish
community. It sees homosexuality as the non-fulfillment of one
mitzvah - but there are 612 other mitzvot that are open to be
fulfilled. Conservative Judaism affirms that homosexual men and
women may lead prayers, have an aliyah to read from the Torah, and
may even serve as youth group counselors or Hebrew school
The specifics of the Conservative responsa may be seen at
Reconstructionist Judaism has rejected the traditional view in all
areas relating to this issue: they view all restrictions on
homosexualiy as null and void. As such, they ordain homosexual Jews as
rabbis and cantors. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
permits Jewish homosexual marriages and homosexual intermarriages.
The American Reform movement has rejected the traditional view in all
areas relating to this issue: they view all restrictions on
homosexualiy as null and void. As such, they do not prohibit
ordination of homosexual Jews as Rabbis and Cantors (although they
don't really make a point of asking anything about sexual preference
beforehand). With respect to same-sex union ceremonies, in 2000, the
Central Conference of American Rabbis issued a resolution that says:
WHEREAS justice and human dignity are cherished Jewish values, and
WHEREAS, in March of 1999 the Women's Rabbinic Network passed a
resolution urging the Central Conference of American Rabbis to
bring the issue of honoring ceremonies between two Jews of the same
gender to the floor of the convention plenum, and
WHEREAS, the institutions of Reform Judaism have a long history of
support for civil and equal rights for gays and lesbians, and
WHEREAS, North American organizations of the Reform Movement have
passed resolutions in support of civil marriage for gays and
WE DO HEREBY RESOLVE, that the relationship of a Jewish, same
gender couple is worthy of affirmation through appropriate Jewish
FURTHER RESOLVED, that we recognize the diversity of opinions
within our ranks on this issue. We support the decision of those
who choose to officiate at rituals of union for same-gender
couples, and we support the decision of those who do not, and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon the CCAR to support all
colleagues in their choices in this matter, and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that we also call upon the CCAR to develop both
educational and liturgical resources in this area.
Details on the history of this position may be found in Section
18.3.8 of the Reform FAQ. You can search for the CCAR resolutions at
Progressive [Reform] Judaism in Israel does not permit homosexual
Subject: Question 2.20: Is it true that Jews are all (fill-in-the-blank)?
rich? (or smart, or ...)
No. There are many poor Jews who need your support. Consider
contributing to Jewish charities, and/or volunteering your time or
services to them.
Subject: Question 2.21: How many Jews are there today in the U.S.A.?
A 1990 [yes, this appears to be the latest survey] National Jewish
Population Survey of the Council of Jewish Federations (which can be
found at the North American Jewish Data Bank
(http://web.gc.cuny.edu/dept/cjstu/na.htm) reports the following:
American Jews: (TOTAL......5,515,000)
Born Jews, Consider Judaism their religion.....4,210,000
Born Jews, Citing no religion..................1,120,000
Jews by Choice (formerly gentiles)...............185,000
Reform.......................41.4% "Traditional"*............... 3.2%
Conservative.................40.4% Reconstructionist............ 1.6%
Orthodox..................... 6.8% Miscellaneous "Jewish"*...... 1.4%
"Just Jewish"*............... 5.2%
*: self-description, though not a denomination.
Survey Criteria for the classifications:
Emphasizes the binding unchanging character of Jewish law
Asserts the continuing authority of Jewish law as part of a
dynamic and developing tradition.
Emphasizes the Jewish prophetic values and accepts Jewish
practices that it considers relevant for modern times.
A humanistic approach to Jewish tradition that redefines the
idea of G-d in humanistic terms.
The Information Please Almanac, at
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0193644.html, reports that as of
1998, Jews made up approximately 2% of the population of the United
States. This is about the same percentage as in 1900, but is lower
than the percentage in 1970 (3.2%). The top 5 non-Christian religions
in the United States, according to the Almanac, are as follows:
Adherents 1900 Mid-1970s Mid-1990s Mid-1995 (Projected)
Nonreligious 1.00M 11.73M 22.23M 23.39M 24.55M
1.3% 5.6% 8.7% 8.8% 8.8%
Jews 1.50M 6.70M 5.54M 5.52M 5.50M
2.0% 3.2% 2.2% 2.1% 2.0%
Muslims 0.01M 0.80M 3.60M 3.77M 3.95M
0.0% 0.4% 1.4% 1.4% 1.4%
Buddhists 0.03M 0.20M 1.68M 1.86M 2.00M
0.0% 0.1% 0.7% 0.7% 0.7%
Black Muslim 0.00M 0.20M 1.25M 1.40M 1.65M
0.0% 0.1% 0.5% 0.5% 0.6%
As this chart shows, the percentage of Jews in the U.S. is projected
to be slowly shrinking. For this survey, the count for Jews is based
on the core Jewish population relating to Judaism, excluding Jewish
persons professing a different religion but including immigrants from
the former U.S.S.R., Eastern Europe, Israel, and other areas.
Subject: Question 2.22: How many Jews are in the world?
Any count of Jews in the world is just an estimate, due to the
difficulties of defining exactly who is a Jew and the lack of formal
surveys. However, according to the Information Please
(http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001484.html), a 1998 estimate is
Latin North Europe/
Rank Religion Total % Africa Asia America America Russia Oc
1 Christians 1,943.0M 32.8% 356.3M 283.7M 462.9M 256.9M 558.7M
2 Affiliated 1,835.4M 31.0% 323.8M 275.8M 456.9M 222.7% 536.1M
3 Muslims 1,164.6M 19.6% 315.0M 812.0M 1.6M 4.3M 31.4M
4 Roman 1,026.5M 17.3% 114.3M 106.4M 442.8M 69.5M 286.1M
5 Hindus 761.7M 12.8% 2.4M 755.5M 0.8M 1.3M 1.4M
6 Nonreligious 759.7M 12.8% 4.9M 600.8M 15.3M 27.5M 108.0M
7 Chinese 379.2M 6.4% 0.03M 377.8M 0.2M 0.8M 0.25M
8 Other 373.8M 6.3% 74.8M 143.0M 44.3M 83.5M 25.6M
9 Buddhists 353.8M 6.0% 0.1M 348.8M 0.6M 2.4M 1.5M
10 Protestants 316.4M 5.3% 74.4M 44.0M 45.3M 69.4M 76.8M
11 Ethnic Rel. 248.6M 4.2% 97.2M 148.2M 1.2M 0.4M 1.3M
12 Orthodox 213.7M 3.6% 33.7M 15.2M 0.5M 4.9M 158.8M
13 Atheists 149.9M 2.5% 0.4M 121.5M 2.7M 1.6M 23.4M
14 Unaffil. 107.7M 1.8% 32.5M 7.9M 6.0M 34.2M 22.6M
15 New Age 100.2M 1.7% 0.03M 98.5M 0.60M 0.76M 0.15M
16 Anglicans 63.7M 1.1% 27.96M 0.86M 0.85M 3.2M 25.6M
17 Sikhs 22.3M 0.4% 0.05M 21.5M -- 0.5M 0.24M
18 Jews 14.1M 0.2% 0.23M 4.14M 1.12M 5.99M 2.53M
As one can see, Jews make up a very small percentage of the people in
Subject: Question 2.23: Who was the first Jew?
There are multiple ways to answer this question:
* Who founded the Jewish religion?
Abraham. The starting of Judaism is described in Genesis 17, where
Abram makes a covenant with G-d, and his name is changed to
There are many stories told about the founding of Judaism. In one,
in which Abraham's father, Terah, is a maker of idols, an old man
walks into the shop to buy an idol. Terah is out, and Abraham is
minding the store. The old man chose his idol carefully. Abraham
asked the man how old he was. The man replied, "70". Abraham then
called him a fool, for worshiping an idol younger than he was. In
another, similar story, Abraham is minding the store. He smashes
all the idols but the largest, and puts the hammer in that idol's
hands. When his father comes home, he is angry, and asks what
happened. Abraham says that the largest idol got jealous and
destroyed the others. The father yelled at Abraham because that
couldn't happen, the idols were just stone!
For whatever reason, Abraham turned from the moon-worshipping of
the farmers of Chaldea and came to a monotheistic belief. It was
at this point that he left his father's house, and started
Judaism is the first monotheistic religion. Other monotheistic
religions, such as Christianity or Islam, were essentially
offsprings of Judaism.
* Who was the first to be called "Jew"?
In the days of Abraham, the term "Jew" was not used. Instead, you
see the term "Hebrew" ("Israelite" only appears after Jacob
changed his name to Israel). The term "Jew" didn't arise until
after the Syro-Ephraimite wars of 735-721 BCE, when the tribe of
Judah became the dominant tribe. The first "Jewish" reference [as
a national identity] comes no sooner than with its appearance at
2nd Kings, 16:6. The Midrash after Rashi establishes the reason
why "Jew" is accepted throughout when referring, Talmudically, to
any Abrahamic desendant in the Pentateuch.
By the way, the term in Hebrew is ivree, which basically means
"one who passed over", which is a reference to Abraham's origin
from the "other side" (of the Jordan). In the Torah, you only find
* When did the Jewish people start?
The answer would be when the special covenant between the Jewish
people and G-d started, which required the acceptance of Torah.
Thus, the answer would be at Mt. Sinai, In the days of Abraham,
the term "Jew" was not used. Instead, you see the term "Hebrew" or
"Israelite". The term "Jew" didn't arise until after the
Syro-Ephraimite wars of 735-721 BCE, when the tribe of Judah
became the dominant tribe. The first "Jewish" reference [as a
national identity] comes no sooner than with its appearance at 2nd
Kings, 16:6. The Midrash after Rashi establishes the reason why
"Jew" is accepted throughout when referring, Talmudically, to any
Abrahamic desendant in the Pentateuch.
Subject: Question 2.24: What is Judaism all about?
You couldn't ask a easy question, huh? Actually, this is one of the
most common questions asked of the FAQ maintainer, often by students
who want an easy, concise summary of Judaism in a single mail message.
Alas, it isn't that easy. Don't expect this message to answer
everything. You should read this entire FAQ, and take a look at other
Jewish FAQs on the network, such as http://www.jewfaq.org/,
http://www.beingjewish.com/ and the material at
http://www.torah.org/ and http://members.aol.com/LazerA/. You
should also check out the General portion of the reading list
(http://www.scjfaq.org/rl/), and go to a library and read some of
the books there.
Hillel the Elder, who lived in the first century, BCE, was asked this
question. His response was, "That which is distasteful to thyself, do
not do unto thy neighbor. All the rest is commentary. Now go forth and
The real answer, however, is far more complex than that. To begin
with, there is no such thing as a religion called Judaism. Judaism is
a civilization, in which religion is one of its many dimensions.
Within its religious area we find a number of mutually similar but
different (you expected this to be easy?) belief systems that are
called names such as: Orthodoxy, Conservatism, Reconstructionism,
Reform, and Humanistic Judaism.
Judaism is a monotheistic religion (one god) founded by Abraham of the
book of Genesis. It's holy text is what Christian's call the "Old
Testament", and what Jews call the Tanakh, for Torah (1st five books),
Prophets, and Writings. There is also a tradition of an Oral Torah,
which was written down around the time of Christ as the Talmud.
There are varying degrees to which Jews give authority to Torah and
follow is practices. The most traditional are called Orthodox Jews;
the least traditional Reform. Some practices are common to all.
Many Jews follow the dietary laws called out in Lev. 11 and elsewhere,
and refrain from eating pork, shellfish, insects, and separate meat
(chicken, beef, lamb, goat, turkey) from milk.
Jews observe the Sabbath from Friday Night to Saturday night, as well
as a large variety of holy days during the year. These are all listed
and described in the FAQ (http://www.scjfaq.org/faq/).
Subject: How do I obtain copies of the FAQ?
There are a number of different ways to obtain copies of the FAQ:
* WWW. If you are reading this on Usenet, and would like to see an
online, hyperlinked version, go visit http://www.scjfaq.org/.
This is the "web" version of the FAQ; the version posted to Usenet
is generated from the web version. Note that the www.scjfaq.org
version is a copy of the actual master version; if you want to
access the master, visit http://master.scjfaq.org/.
* Email. Scjfaq.org also provides an autoretriever that allows one
to obtain a copy of the FAQ by return Email. To use the
autoretriever, you send a retrieval request to
email@example.com with the request in the body of the
message. A more reliable way to retrieve these files is through
the FAQ autoretriever
(http://www.mljewish.org/bin/autoresp.cgi). For the FAQ, the
request has the form:
send faq partname
For the reading list, the request has the form:
send rl partname
"Partname" is replaced by the name of the part, as shown in the
general index. The following is a short summary of the mapping to
partnames for the FAQ:
+ 01-FAQ-intro: Section 1: Network and Newsgroup
+ 02-Who-We-Are: Section 2: Who We Are
+ 03-Torah-Halacha: Sections 3, 4: Torah; Halachic
+ 04-Observance: Sections 5, 6, 7, 8:
Jewish Holidays; Jewish Dietary Law and Kashrut; Sabbath and
Holiday Observance; Woman and Marriage
+ 05-Worship: Sections 9, 10, 11: Jewish
Worship; Conversion, Intermarriage, and "Who is a Jew?";
Miscellaneous Practice Questions
+ 06-Jewish-Thought: Section 12: Jewish Thought
+ 07-Jews-As-Nation: Section 13: Jews as a Nation
+ 08-Israel: Section 14: Jews and Israel
+ 09-Antisemitism: Sections 15, 16, 17: Churban
Europa (The Holocaust); Antisemitism and Rumors about Jews;
+ 10-Reform: Section 18: Reform/Progressive Judaism
+ 11-Miscellaneous: Sections 19, 20: Miscellaneous;
References and Getting Connected
+ 12-Kids: Section 21: Jewish Childrearing Related
+ mail-order: Mail Order Judaica
The following is a short summary of the mapping of partnames for
the Reading Lists:
+ general: Introduction and General. Includes book sources,
starting points for beginners, starting points for non-Jewish
readers, General Judaism, General Jewish Thought, General
Jewish History, Contemporary Judaism, Noachide Laws, Torah
and Torah Commentary, Talmud and Talmudic Commentary,
Mishnah, Midrash, Halachic Codes, Becoming An Observant Jew,
Women and Judaism, and Science and Judaism.
+ traditional: Traditional Liturgy, Practice, Lifestyle,
Holidays. Includes Traditional Liturgy; Traditional
Philosophy and Ethics; Prayer; Traditional Practice; The
Household; Life, Death, and In-Between; and The Cycle Of
+ mysticism: Kabbalah, Mysticism, and Messianism. Includes
Academic and Religious treatments of Kabbalah, Sprituality,
and the Jewish notion of the Messiah.
+ reform: Reform/Progressive Judaism
+ conservative: Conservative Judaism
+ reconstructionist: Reconstructionist Judaism
+ humanistic: Humanistic Judaism (Society for Humanistic
+ chasidism: Chassidism. Includes general information on
historical chassidism, as well as specific information on
Lubavitch (Chabad), Satmar, Breslaw (Breslov), and other
+ zionism: Zionism. Includes Zionism and The Development Of
Israel, The Founders, Zionistic Movements, and Judaism in
+ antisemitism: Antisemitism. Includes sections on
Antisemitism, What Led to The Holocaust, Medieval Oppression,
Antisemitism Today (Including Dealing with Hate Groups),
Judaism and Christianity, and Judaism, Freemasonry and other
+ intermarriage: Intermarriage. Includes sections on "So
You're Considering Intermarriage?", The Traditional
Viewpoint, Conversion, and Coping With Life As An
+ childrens: Books for Jewish Children. Includes sections
on Birth and Naming, Raising a Child, Family Guidebooks,
Upsheren, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, Holiday Books for
Children, Liturgy for Children, Bible and Torah for Children,
Jewish History for Children, Jewish Theology for Children,
Israel, Learning Hebrew, and Jewish Stories.
Alternatively, you may send a message to
firstname.lastname@example.org with the following line in the body
of the message:
Where (portionname) is replaced by the appropriate subdirectory
and filenames; for example, to get the first part of the reading
list, one would say:
* Anonymous FTP: All portions of the FAQ and of the reading lists
are archived on rtfm.mit.edu and are available for anonymous
FTP from the pub/usenet/news.answers/judaism/FAQ directory (URL
Similarly, the parts of the reading lists are stored in the
pub/usenet/news.answers/judaism/reading-lists directory (URL:
ts). Note that the archived versions of the FAQ and reading lists
are the posted versions; that is, they are each one large ASCII
Subject: Who Wrote the FAQ?
The original version of the Frequently Asked Questions was developed
by a committee consisting of Mike Allen, Jerry Altzman, Rabbi Charles
Arian, Jacob Baltuch (Past Chair), Joseph Berry, Warren Burstein,
Stewart Clamen, Daniel Faigin, Avi Feldblum, Rabbi Yaakov Feldman,
Itzhak "Jeff" Finger, Gedaliah Friedenberg, Yechezkal Gutfreund, Art
Kamlet, Joe Kansun, CAPT Kaye David, Alan Lustiger, Hillel Markowitz,
Len Moskowitz, Colin Naturman, Aliza Panitz, Eliot Shimoff, Mark
Steinberger, Steven Weintraub, Matthew Wiener, and headed by Robert
Levene. The organization and structuring of the lists for posting
purposes was done by Daniel Faigin, who is currently maintaining
the lists. Other contributors include Aaron Biterman, A. Engler
Anderson, Ken Arromdee, Seymour Axelrod, Jonathan Baker, Josh Backon,
Micha Berger, Steven M. Bergson, Eli Birnbaum, Shoshana L. Boublil,
Kevin Brook, J. Burton, Harvey Cohen, Todd J.Dicker, Michael Dinowitz,
Rabbi Jim Egolf, Sean Engelson, Mike Fessler, Menachem Glickman,
Amitai Halevi, Walter Hellman, Per Hollander, Miriam Jerris, Robert D.
Kaiser, Yosef Kazen, Rabbi Jay Lapidus, Mier Lehrer, Heather Luntz,
David Maddison, Arnaldo Mandel, Ilana Manspeizer, Seth Ness, Chris
Newport, Daniel Nomy, Jennifer Paquette, Andrew Poe, Alan Pfeffer,
Jason Pyeron, Adam Reed, Seth Rosenthall, JudithSeid@aol.com, David
Sheen, Rabbi John Sherwood, Michael Sidlofsky, Michael Slifkin, Frank
Smith, Michael Snider, Rabbi Arnold Steibel, Andy Tannenbaum,
email@example.com, Meredith Warshaw, Bill Wadlinger, Arel Weisberg,
Dorothy Werner, and Art Werschulz, and the
soc.culture.jewish.parenting board. Some material has been derived
from other sources on the Internet, such as
http://www.jewishwebsite.com/, http://www.jewfaq.org/, and
http://www.menorah.org/. Comments and corrections are welcome;
please address them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special thank you... Special thanks for her patience and
understanding go to my wife, Karen, who put up with me hiding at the
computer for the two months it took to complete the July/August 2000
remodel of the entire soc.culture.jewish FAQ and Reading Lists. If you
think the effort was worth it, drop her a note c/o
Please mail additions or corrections to me at email@example.com.
Questions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Modified: $lastmod
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