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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Who We Are (2/12)

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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
               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.
   
   [2][Got Questions?] Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your
   questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to
   [3]questions@scjfaq.org. The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct
   your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you
   would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs
   questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at
   [4]maintainer@scjfaq.org.
   
   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
   [5]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 [6]www.scjfaq.org/otherfaqs.html
   
   This FAQ is a volunteer effort. If you wish to support the maintenance
   of the FAQ, please see [7]Section 20, Question 99 for more
   information.

   Reproduction of this posting for commercial use is subject to
   restriction. See Part 1 for more details.


Subject: ORGANIZATION This portion of the FAQ contains answers to the following questions: Section 2: Who We Are 1. [5]Who reads the soc.culture.jewish newsgroups? 2. [6]What are the major Jewish movements? 3. [7]What is Conservative Judaism? 4. [8]What is Orthodox Judaism? 5. [9]What is Reform/Progressive Judaism? 6. [10]What about other movements? 7. [11]What are some of the Orthodox sub-groups? 8. [12]What is Chassidism and how does it differ from other Orthodox groups? 9. [13]What is Lubavitch Chasidism and Chabad? 10. [14]What is Breslov Chasidism? 11. [15]What is Satmar Chasidism? 12. [16]What other forms of Chasidism? 13. [17]What are OCR (O-C-R) wars? Why all the flames? 14. [18]But Reform Judaism isn't Judaism? Why don't they see that? 15. [19]But Orthodox Judaism isn't Judaism? Why don't they see that? 16. [20]Why shouldn't I say "ultra-Orthodox", "Reformed Judaism", or "Humanist Judaism"? 17. [21]How does a Chassid differ from Misnagid? 18. [22]What is a "Torah Jew?" 19. [23]What about homosexual Jews? 20. [24]Is it true that Jews are all (fill-in-the-blank)? 21. [25]How many Jews are there today in the U.S.A.? 22. [26]How many Jews are in the world? 23. [27]Who was the first Jew? 24. [28]What is Judaism all about?
Subject: Question 2.1: Who reads the soc.culture.jewish newsgroups? Answer: 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 another. 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 <[5]maintainer@scjfaq.org>, 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 Gross Breakdown: 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 [6]Question 2.21.
Subject: Question 2.2: What are the major Jewish movements? Answer: The three major denominations in Judaism are, in alphabetical order, Conservative Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, and Reform/Progressive Judaism. 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 Synagogues. With respect to the United Kingdom, there are about 11 synangogues that are officially part of The World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synangogues ([5]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 ([6]alpebaum@cs.huji.ac.il) 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? Answer: 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 Klal Yisrael. 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 matrilineal descent. 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 Theology 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 student. 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 Assembly (RA). 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 Zionist movement. 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 whenever needed. Sources of More Information Additional information may be found in the [5]Conservative Reading List, available at [6]www.scjfaq.org/rl/jcu-index.html or via the SCJFAQ autoretriever. Also worth exploring is the home page for the [7]United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism (UCSJ) <[8]http://www.uscj.org>. Another source of information is the [9]Conservative and Masorti Judaism FAQs ([10]http://communities.msn.com/JudaismFAQs&naventryid=114).* [*: 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 <[11]http://www.masorti.org/>. Interested readers might also want to look at the following documents available via WWW: * [12]Ismar Schorsch's "Core Values" of Conservative Judaism (a synopsis) (<http://www.jtsa.edu/pubs/misc/core.html>)
Subject: Question 2.4: What is Orthodox Judaism? Answer: 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 movements. Orthodox Theology 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 [5]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 [6]Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith. [For those reading the posted version of this, they may be found in Section 4.7 of the FAQ] 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 [7]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? Answer: 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 Theology 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 [5]1999 Statement of Principles ([6]http://www.ccarnet.org/platforms/principles.html), and in the [7]1976 Centenary Perspective ([8]http://www.ccarnet.org/platforms/centenary.html). Reform is recently rededicating itself to Torah and education. This is emphasized in the [9]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 (<http://uahc.org/yinaug.html>) 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 [10]Reform/Progressive portion of this FAQ. For further reading, consult the [11]Reform Reading List.
Subject: Question 2.6: What about other movements? Answer: Reconstructionism 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 veto." Reconstructionist Theology 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. Reconstructionism Today 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 in G-d! 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 experimentation. Where to Get More Information The organization of Reconstructionist Congregations is called the [5]Jewish Reconstruction Federation <http://www.jrf.org>. Additional information may be found in the [6]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 [7]home page, http://www.utj.org/home. Humanistic Judaism 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 [8]Humanistic Reading List, available at www.scjfaq.org/rl/jsh-index.html. A web page of [9]links and information about Humanistic Judaism is available at URL: <http://www.teleport.com/~hellman>. 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 [10]info@shj.org (Society for Humanistic Judaism). Home page: [11]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 [12]yahoogroups.com. Readers interested in Humanistic Judaism might also want to contact the sister organization to SHJ, the [13]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 [14]csjo@csjo.org
Subject: Question 2.7: What are some of the Orthodox sub-groups? Answer: 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 Europe. 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 include: * Edah ([5]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). ([6]http://www.ariga.com/ozveshalom/) * The Shalom Hartman Institute (Israel). ([7]http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/hartman/) 12 G'dalyahu Alon St., Jerusalem, Israel Tel: 02-5675320 FAX: 02-5611913 E-Mail: [8]shi@shi.org.il * Meimad (Israel). ([9]http://www.meimad.org.il/) * The Orthodox Caucus. ([10]http://www.orthodoxcaucus.org/) * Jewish Orthodox Feminists Alliance ([11]http://www.jofa.org/) Modern/Centrist Orthodox groups include the following: * The Union for Orthodox Congregations (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA). [12]http://www.ou.org * The National Council for Young Israel, and the Council of Young Israel Rabbis. [13]http://youngisrael.org/ * The United Synagogue of England. [14]http://www.brijnet.org/us/index.htm "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) [15]http://www.fjc.ru/alliance.htm. * The Chief Rabbinate of Israel [16]http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/gov/relaffs.html * Agudath Israel of America; 84 William St., New York, NY 10038; (212) 797-9000 * 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 [17]a later section. 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 Judaism include: * Prof. Eli Segal's [18]"Varieties of Orthodox Judaism" (http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/363_Transp/08_Orthodoxy.html) . 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 Orthodox groups? Answer: 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 involved with. 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 [5]Chasidism Reading List, available at http://www.scjfaq.org/rl/joc-index.html.
Subject: Question 2.9: What is Lubavitch Chasidism and Chabad? Answer: 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 Chassid along. 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 over 13. 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 [5]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 [6]Chassidic Reading List portion of the S.C.J FAQ. Chabad-Lubavitch is also reachable through the internet; for more information, send email to [7]info@lubavitch.chabad.org. Information is also available via WWW or Mosaic via the following URL: [8]http://www.chabad.org.
Subject: Question 2.10: What is Breslov Chasidism? Answer: 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 [5]http://www.pinenet.com/~rooster/uman.html. 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 synagogue. 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 [6]Chassidism at [7]http://www.scjfaq.org/rl/joc-index.html and at the [8]"Breslov -- Judaism with a Heart" website (http://www.breslov.org). The [9]Breslov on the Internet page at has a link launcher to many other Breslov-related sites.
Subject: Question 2.11: What is Satmar Chasidism? Answer: 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 stereotyping. 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 "Or Haraayon". 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 [5]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? Answer: 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 'Yerushalmi Litvish'. 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? Answer: 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' principles somehow. 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 following parable/analogy: 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 that? Answer: 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 movement. As tempting as Reform-bashing is, it should be avoided for several reasons. 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 [5]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 Orthodoxy? 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 non-O Jews). 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 see that? Answer: On the other hand, SCJ also provides a temptation for Reform Jews to bash Orthodoxy's traditional approach as outmoded and antique. Resist the temptation! 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 Orthodoxy. As tempting as Orthodox-bashing is, it should be avoided for several reasons. 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"? Answer: 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 then). 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? Answer: 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?" Answer: 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? Answer: Traditional Judaism considers particular common homosexual sexual activities as an abomination (see Question [5]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 include homosexuals. Nevertheless, as with society as a whole, there are members of the Jewish community who are homosexual. A [6]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 following links: * Orthodox Jewish responses to homosexuality: [7]http://shamash.org/listarchives/mail-jewish/Special_Topics/Homo sexuals * Essay by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Oxford, UK: [8]http://www.shamash.org/listarchives/oxford-judaism/homosexualit y * [9]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. In particular: * 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 teachers. The specifics of the Conservative responsa may be seen at [10]http://communities.msn.com/JudaismFAQs&naventryid=118. 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 lesbians, therefore WE DO HEREBY RESOLVE, that the relationship of a Jewish, same gender couple is worthy of affirmation through appropriate Jewish ritual, and 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 [11]Section 18.3.8 of the Reform FAQ. You can search for the CCAR resolutions at [12]http://www.ccarnet.org/reso/ Progressive [Reform] Judaism in Israel does not permit homosexual marriages.
Subject: Question 2.20: Is it true that Jews are all (fill-in-the-blank)? rich? (or smart, or ...) Answer: 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.? Answer: 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 [5]North American Jewish Data Bank ([6]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: Orthodox: Emphasizes the binding unchanging character of Jewish law Conservative: Asserts the continuing authority of Jewish law as part of a dynamic and developing tradition. Reform: Emphasizes the Jewish prophetic values and accepts Jewish practices that it considers relevant for modern times. Reconstructionism: A humanistic approach to Jewish tradition that redefines the idea of G-d in humanistic terms. The [7]Information Please Almanac, at [8]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) Mid-2000 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? Answer: 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 [5]Information Please ([6]http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001484.html), a 1998 estimate is as follows: Latin North Europe/ Rank Religion Total % Africa Asia America America Russia Oc eania 1 Christians 1,943.0M 32.8% 356.3M 283.7M 462.9M 256.9M 558.7M 24.5M 2 Affiliated 1,835.4M 31.0% 323.8M 275.8M 456.9M 222.7% 536.1M 20.0M Christians 3 Muslims 1,164.6M 19.6% 315.0M 812.0M 1.6M 4.3M 31.4M 0.2M 4 Roman 1,026.5M 17.3% 114.3M 106.4M 442.8M 69.5M 286.1M 7.3M Catholics 5 Hindus 761.7M 12.8% 2.4M 755.5M 0.8M 1.3M 1.4M 0.3M 6 Nonreligious 759.7M 12.8% 4.9M 600.8M 15.3M 27.5M 108.0M 3.2M 7 Chinese 379.2M 6.4% 0.03M 377.8M 0.2M 0.8M 0.25M 0.06M Folk Rel. 8 Other 373.8M 6.3% 74.8M 143.0M 44.3M 83.5M 25.6M 2.5M Christians 9 Buddhists 353.8M 6.0% 0.1M 348.8M 0.6M 2.4M 1.5M 0.3M 10 Protestants 316.4M 5.3% 74.4M 44.0M 45.3M 69.4M 76.8M 6.5M 11 Ethnic Rel. 248.6M 4.2% 97.2M 148.2M 1.2M 0.4M 1.3M 0.26M 12 Orthodox 213.7M 3.6% 33.7M 15.2M 0.5M 4.9M 158.8M 0.68M Christians 13 Atheists 149.9M 2.5% 0.4M 121.5M 2.7M 1.6M 23.4M 0.36M 14 Unaffil. 107.7M 1.8% 32.5M 7.9M 6.0M 34.2M 22.6M 4.4M 15 New Age 100.2M 1.7% 0.03M 98.5M 0.60M 0.76M 0.15M 0.05M 16 Anglicans 63.7M 1.1% 27.96M 0.86M 0.85M 3.2M 25.6M 5.2M 17 Sikhs 22.3M 0.4% 0.05M 21.5M -- 0.5M 0.24M 0.01M 18 Jews 14.1M 0.2% 0.23M 4.14M 1.12M 5.99M 2.53M 0.1M As one can see, Jews make up a very small percentage of the people in the world.
Subject: Question 2.23: Who was the first Jew? Answer: 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 Abraham. 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. 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 those terms. * 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? Answer: 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 [5]http://www.jewfaq.org/, [6]http://www.beingjewish.com/ and the material at [7]http://www.torah.org/ and [8]http://members.aol.com/LazerA/. You should also check out the General portion of the reading list ([9]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 study." 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 ([10]http://www.scjfaq.org/faq/).
Subject: How do I obtain copies of the FAQ? Answer: 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 [2]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 [3]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 [4]archives@scjfaq.org with the request in the body of the message. A more reliable way to retrieve these files is through the [5]FAQ autoretriever ([6]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: + [7]01-FAQ-intro: Section [8]1: Network and Newsgroup Information. + [9]02-Who-We-Are: Section [10]2: Who We Are + [11]03-Torah-Halacha: Sections [12]3, [13]4: Torah; Halachic Authority + [14]04-Observance: Sections [15]5, [16]6, [17]7, [18]8: Jewish Holidays; Jewish Dietary Law and Kashrut; Sabbath and Holiday Observance; Woman and Marriage + [19]05-Worship: Sections [20]9, [21]10, [22]11: Jewish Worship; Conversion, Intermarriage, and "Who is a Jew?"; Miscellaneous Practice Questions + [23]06-Jewish-Thought: Section [24]12: Jewish Thought + [25]07-Jews-As-Nation: Section [26]13: Jews as a Nation + [27]08-Israel: Section [28]14: Jews and Israel + [29]09-Antisemitism: Sections [30]15, [31]16, [32]17: Churban Europa (The Holocaust); Antisemitism and Rumors about Jews; Countering Missionaries + [33]10-Reform: Section [34]18: Reform/Progressive Judaism + [35]11-Miscellaneous: Sections [36]19, [37]20: Miscellaneous; References and Getting Connected + [38]12-Kids: Section [39]21: Jewish Childrearing Related Questions + [40]mail-order: Mail Order Judaica The following is a short summary of the mapping of partnames for the Reading Lists: + [41]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. + [42]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 Holidays. + [43]mysticism: Kabbalah, Mysticism, and Messianism. Includes Academic and Religious treatments of Kabbalah, Sprituality, and the Jewish notion of the Messiah. + [44]reform: Reform/Progressive Judaism + [45]conservative: Conservative Judaism + [46]reconstructionist: Reconstructionist Judaism + [47]humanistic: Humanistic Judaism (Society for Humanistic Judaism) + [48]chasidism: Chassidism. Includes general information on historical chassidism, as well as specific information on Lubavitch (Chabad), Satmar, Breslaw (Breslov), and other approaches. + [49]zionism: Zionism. Includes Zionism and The Development Of Israel, The Founders, Zionistic Movements, and Judaism in Israel. + [50]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 rumors. + [51]intermarriage: Intermarriage. Includes sections on "So You're Considering Intermarriage?", The Traditional Viewpoint, Conversion, and Coping With Life As An Intermarried. + [52]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 [53]mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu with the following line in the body of the message: send usenet/news.answers/judaism/(portionname) Where (portionname) is replaced by the appropriate subdirectory and filenames; for example, to get the first part of the reading list, one would say: send usenet/news.answers/judaism/reading-lists/general * Anonymous FTP: All portions of the FAQ and of the reading lists are archived on [54]rtfm.mit.edu and are available for anonymous FTP from the pub/usenet/news.answers/judaism/FAQ directory (URL [55]ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/judaism/FAQ/). Similarly, the parts of the reading lists are stored in the pub/usenet/news.answers/judaism/reading-lists directory (URL: [56]ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/judaism/reading-lis ts). Note that the archived versions of the FAQ and reading lists are the posted versions; that is, they are each one large ASCII file.
Subject: Who Wrote the FAQ? Answer: 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 [2]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, marktan@aol.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 [3]http://www.jewishwebsite.com/, [4]http://www.jewfaq.org/, and [5]http://www.menorah.org/. Comments and corrections are welcome; please address them to [6]maintainer@scjfaq.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 [7]maintainer@scjfaq.org. ------------------------------------------------------------ -- Please mail additions or corrections to me at maintainer@scjfaq.org. Questions should be sent to questions@scjfaq.org. Last Modified: $lastmod End of S.C.J FAQ Part 2 (Who We Are) Digest ************************** -------

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