Orthodox Jews

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Orthodox Jews


Orthodoxy (Greek: “true opinion”) is a Jewish religious movement that advocates the full observance of Jewish religious law (the halakhah), interpreted in traditional ways, and is critical of modernity and its values. In its adherence to the laws, customs, and beliefs of the ancestors, Orthodoxy portrays itself as the faithful continuation of traditional Jewish society. In many ways, though, Orthodoxy should be regarded as a movement of the modern era, whose birth occurred toward the end of the eighteenth century, in reaction to the challenges posed by Reform, secularization, and assimilation in western and central Europe. In this setting, one sector of the Jewish population struggled to maintain the supremacy of halakhah in Jewish life. As the endeavor to preserve the society as a whole was doomed to fail, the efforts were focused on the protection of their own sector, yielding what now is called Orthodoxy.

Orthodox theology accepts the literal interpretation of traditional doctrines, such as the election of Israel, divine providence, reward and punishment in the world-to-come, and the future coming of the messiah. However, more than any specific dogma, it is the commitment to the full observance of the halakhah that has guided the creation of a separate Orthodox identity.

Orthodoxy asserts the divine source of the Torah and the eternal, unchanging nature of its laws. Seeing the law as a direct expression of God's will, Orthodox Judaism refuses to reduce the halakhah to historical, sociological, or psychological grounds. Unlike Conservative Judaism, Orthodoxy does not accept halakhic rulings based on such considerations. Orthodox theologians understand changes and developments in the halakhah not as new norms but rather as elaboration and realization of the existing ones. Accordingly, halakhic ruling is authoritative only when based on specific texts (i.e., the Talmud and traditional halakhic codes and commentaries) and issued by a recognized rabbanical authority. The qualities required of the latter are thorough learning of the traditional texts, a deep conviction in the divine source of the Torah, and a sincere attempt to reach a true understanding of the law. His recognition comes from the already accepted rabbanical authorities of his day.

Research Question

What are the impact of orthodox jewish culture over American culture? And what are the changes in new generation of orthodox jews families?

Orthodox Jews and Difference of Opinion

Almost fifty years ago, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson became the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe. Shortly thereafter he issued a call for an effort of outreach to non-Orthodox Jews. The cause was taken up by Rabbis Shlomo Carlebach and Zalman Schachter, two Lubavitcher disciples who became the first outreach workers for what came to be known as the t'shuva movement.

A movement of return had begun earlier. Already in the 1930s and 1940s, one could find individuals reared in non-orthodox homes who became Orthodox as adults. One could also find institutions with programs designed to facilitate such change, such as the Young Israel synagogue movement and schools such as Yeshivot Torah Vodaath and Heychal HaTorah. But these early efforts were directed for the most part at ...
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