The Jewish religion also referred to as Judaism, is basically composed of several other groups that have their own unique characteristics such as organization, seminary and related organizations (Van, 2014). Some of the major groups or movements that make up the Jewish religion include the Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Renewal, and Humanist movements. The creation of these movements was essentially influenced by the changing social environment beginning from the French Revolution until the modern times.
Looking on the commonality side, all the Jewish movements believe in only One God and the Messiah. The Jewish followers also show their acceptance of the Jewish Bible, or the Torah, which is taken to be the guide for man’s life on earth (Antoun, 2011). Furthermore, all Jews recognize Israel as their ancient homeland, and this history is being studied and undergoes further passage from one generation to another. As their religious custom, all the Jewish movements observe the established Jewish holidays, which also includes the practice of rituals that mark special moments in the lifecycle of the believers. Among the many other areas of commonness that exist across the different Jewish movements, it is also worth noting that these people have a share on the values regarding prayers, education in addition to social action that can be summed up as the belief towards repairing the world (Satlow, 2006).
Conversely, the major movements established under Judaism possess a set of distinguishing beliefs and principles that differentiate them one from the other. Van (2014), notes this difference arises from the manner of prayer services including the related customs, and the perception of the authority of the Jewish Bible, the Torah. To begin with, the Orthodox group holds that the Jews were given the Torah by God, when they were at the Mountain of Sinai, hence, it is required that all should adhere strictly to the writings without any form of alteration (Satlow, 2006). The Orthodox conduct their prayer sessions in Hebrews, where everyone prays for themselves, while the opening and closing parts done by a given person. It is also the custom that men put on tallit (prayer shawls) and kippah (head coverings), and are the only ones allowed to read the Bible. The women normally have their separate sections to sit.
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On their part, the Conservative group also believes that the Torah was divinely given at Mount Sinai; however, the application of the laws is subject to evolve with the changing of time and circumstances (Satlow, 2006). Here, prayers are conducted in Hebrew and English, and singing is also allowed. All the Conservative men wear tallit and kippah, and some of the women may wear the same clothing, too. Here, both men and women sit together, and in certain places, the women are also allowed to read the Torah.
Finally, Satlow (2006) illustrates that the Reform movement regards the Torah to be written over the years by men under divine inspiration, and people can choose the Jewish Laws relevant to them. English, or the local language, is used for the prayer services, done by a trained cantor and accompanied by music. Wearing of the tallit and kippah is optional, and both men and women sit and read the Torah together.
- Antoun, R. T. (2011). Understanding fundamentalism: Christian, Islamic, and Jewish movements. Walnut Creek, CA.
- Satlow, M. L. (2006). Creating Judaism: History, tradition, practice. New York, NY: Columbia Univ. Press.
- Van, V. R. E. (2014). RELG: World.