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In Reform synagogues they sit together with men, participate actively in public worship and can now also be rabbis. Whilst these changes are some of the obvious outward signs of Reform Judaism, the key to them all is the question of what happened at Mount Sinai. For the Orthodox, it was the revelation of God given once and for all time. Aspects might be interpreted through oral traditions, but it cannot be altered or negated.

Reform adheres to the notion of Progressive Revelation: that the will of God is constantly unfolding and each generation has to hear God's voice in its own time. Mount Sinai was the start, but what held true four thousand years ago for a nomadic group living in the wilderness does not necessarily apply today. Scientific knowledge and modern insights are part of God's revelation too.

One current example might be homosexuality. Described in the Bible as an abomination and regarded as a perversion, we now know that for some people it is their natural orientation. It was not their choice, but God created them that way.

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Heterosexuals may feel uncomfortable with them, but have to recognise their right to be as they are. The Bible may be an authoritative text, but it does not have final authority. In the classic formulation of the relationship between past and present, 'tradition has a vote, but not a veto'. Reform has also given prominence to the moral commands over the ritual observances.

This is not to devalue or abandon rituals, but to emphasise that by themselves they are insufficient unless they are accompanied by ethical conduct. Thus keeping the dietary laws and lighting candles are worthless unless one is also scrupulously honest in business or cares for the downtrodden. Moreover, it is held that the purpose of rituals is to enhance one's religious life and so those that impede it have been jettisoned - such as the ban on driving to synagogue on the Sabbath even if one lives too far away.

Another characteristic of Reform is its attitude to modern life. Instead of seeing it as full of dangers and to be resisted, it is seen as a place of opportunities and to be welcomed. Although it contains unpleasant aspects, they should not prevent one from benefiting from the good it has to offer. The danger for any new movement is that it too ossifies and becomes another orthodoxy. However, Reform Judaism has tried to remain true to its reforming principles by being open to new developments.

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It considers same-faith marriages preferable, but has striven to make mixed-faith couples still feel welcome. Jewish status is still determined by the matrilineal line, but new procedures have been introduced recently to accept children of Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers. Reform Judaism is also currently revising its prayer book so as to adopt inclusive language and eradicate exclusively male imagery. For instance, instead of "all men shall praise you our King, O God of our fathers", it will say "all people shall praise you our Ruler, O God of our ancestors".

BBC - Religions - Judaism: Reform Judaism

It is a measure of the success of Reform Judaism that some of its innovations have been adopted by Orthodox synagogues, such as a special coming-of-age ceremony for girls or holding a communal Passover meal for those without family. Equally influential has been its development of the synagogue as a community centre rather than just a house of prayer. Few today are complete without a friendship club, keep-fit group and bridge circle.

It also provided a model for the Church of England.


The first woman rabbi predated the entry of women into the priesthood by seventeen years and after a similar struggle for recognition. The general acceptance of women rabbis once they had become a fact of life showed that threats of mass defection did not materialise even though there was on-going discontent in some quarters. Similarly, the acceptance of gay rabbis - although small in number - indicates that the majority of congregants judge a person by their integrity rather than their sexuality.

Some Reform rabbis have had a great impact on national life in recent times. The late Rabbi Hugo Gryn, stalwart of Radio 4's Moral Maze, also belonged to the Reform, and through his mixture of tradition and common-sense he epitomised what the movement as a whole stood for. Despite their different approaches, Reform and Orthodoxy still have more in common than that which separates them.

Other smaller Jewish groups exist too - Liberals and Masorti - mixing tradition and change in varying ways. Reform sees itself as neither superior nor inferior to them, but as an equally authentic expression of Judaism today, with a particular appeal to those deeply committed both to their Jewish heritage and modern life.

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Search term:. Read more. This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets CSS if you are able to do so. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. It typically begins at sunset on Friday and lasts until nightfall on Saturday.

Observing Shabbat can take many forms, depending on the type of Judaism that a Jewish family may follow. Orthodox and Conservative Jews, for example, may refrain from performing any physical labor, using any electrical device or other prohibited activities.

Most observant Jews celebrate Shabbat by reading or discussing the Torah, attending a synagogue or socializing with other Jews at Shabbat meals. Throughout history, Jewish people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs. Some well-known events include:. The group also kidnapped and crucified Joseph ibn Naghrela, the Jewish vizier to the Berber king. The First Crusade: In the first of the Crusades —a series of medieval holy wars involving Christians and Muslims—thousands of Jews were killed, and many were forced to convert to Christianity.

Experts estimate about , people were ousted and tens of thousands died while trying to reach safety. The Holocaust: In the Holocaust , the most infamous of modern-day atrocities, the Nazis murdered more than 6 million Jews. During and after the Holocaust, many Jews returned to their homeland in the Middle East region known as Palestine and embraced Zionism , a movement for the creation of a Jewish state that emerged in 19th-century Europe.

In , Israel officially became an independent nation. David Ben-Gurion , one of the leading promoters of a Jewish nation state, was given the title of prime minister.

This event was considered a success for the Jewish people who had tirelessly petitioned for an independent state in their homeland. However, tensions between Jews and Arabs living in Palestine escalated in the years since Israel became a state and are still ongoing today.

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  6. Orthodox Judaism : Orthodox Jews are typically known for their strict observance of traditional Jewish law and rituals. Orthodox Judaism is a diverse sect that includes several subgroups, including Hasidic Jews. This form started in the 18th century in Eastern Europe and holds different values than traditional or ultra-Orthodox Judaism.

    Hasidic Jews emphasize a mystical experience with God that involves direct communion through prayer and worship. Chabad is a well-known Orthodox Jewish, Hasidic movement. Reform Judaism : Reform Judaism is considered a liberal category of the religion that values ethical traditions over strict observance of Jewish laws. Followers promote progressive ideas and adaptation. Typically, conservative Jews honor the traditions of Judaism while allowing for some modernization.

    Reconstructionist Judaism : Reconstructionism dates back to when Mordecai Kaplan founded the Society for the Advancement of Judaism. Humanistic Jews celebrate Jewish history and culture without an emphasis on God. Messianic Judaism : This modern movement combines the beliefs of Judaism and Christianity. Passover : This holiday lasts seven or eight days and celebrates Jewish freedom from slavery in Egypt. Rosh Hashanah : Jews celebrate the birth of the universe and humanity during this holiday, which is also known as the Jewish New Year.

    The High Holy Days are considered a time of repentance for Jewish people. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees defeated the Syrian-Greeks over 2, years ago. Purim : This is a joyous holiday that celebrates a time when the Jewish people in Persia were saved from extermination. Religion: Judaism.

    Judaism Today

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    Jewish Sacred Texts. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Jewish Population. Judaism But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. Since , the word has taken on a new and horrible meaning: the mass murder of some 6 million European Jews as well Hitler capitalized on economic woes, popular discontent and political infighting to take absolute power in Germany beginning in Auschwitz, also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, opened in and was the largest of the Nazi concentration and death camps.

    Located in southern Poland, Auschwitz initially served as a detention center for political prisoners. However, it evolved into a network of camps where The instability created in Europe by the First World War set the stage for another international conflict—World War II—which broke out two decades later and would prove even more devastating.

    Rising to power in an economically and politically unstable Germany, Adolf

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