Press "Enter" to skip to content

As a non-American Jew, I would really like to hear a *balanced and fair* ELI5 definition of Reform/Conservative/Reconstructionist Judaism (plus how they relate to Israel and Zionism)

TLDR: interested to hear ELI5 explanations of non-Orthodox movements, how synagogue services and general observance work, and how these movements and their members relate to Israel and Zionism. Both non-Orthodox and Orthodox accounts welcomed!

I am a non-American Jew, which means that the majority of Judaism I see in western media is filtered through an American Jewish lens. This is also the case for my non-Jewish friends, meaning that their default understanding and impression of Judaism is heavily influenced by American Judaism.

Where I live, Australia, things (seem to) be organised very differently to the US; and really quite similar to Israel. There seems to be a very big cultural difference, too, but that’s for another day.

While we have all levels of observance and affiliation in our community, the overwhelming majority of Jewish organisations and institutions are under the banner of Orthodoxy. Therefore, even my secular and atheist friends understand Judaism basically as Orthodoxy (mostly Modern Orthodox and Chabad).

That being said, we do have non-Orthodox institutions. We have a few Liberal/Progressive synagogues, and a few Conservative ones. My friend attended a Liberal/Progressive synagogue growing up, and I went there with him once.

The consequence of this is that I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who identifies as an Orthodox/Reform/Liberal/Progressive/Conservative/Reconstructionist Jew, even if they belong to those congregations. I myself don’t even do that, even though I literally only know Orthodoxy. However, when I meet American Jews, they frequently introduce themselves as Orthodox/Reform/Conservative/Conservadox(?)/Reconstructionist Jews.

In light of…recent…issues…, there is quite a lot of talk about Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism on social media (including on this subreddit). I have seen numerous members and officials of those communities express dismay at the (apparently) growing anti-Zionist views espoused by some congregants and even clergy. This has led to quite a lot of debate about the movements themselves that I can’t really judge.

Most people who belong to those movements refute the claims and claim that their synagogues are indeed very Zionist. This is my impression of those movements here. Anti-Zionism is almost unheard of of in the Jewish community here, though since the outbreak of hostilities there have been some quite loud voices.

There are also seems to be conflict between some members of Orthodox/Reform/Conservative/Reconstructionist movements who try to discredit other movements, and again, I can’t judge what is and isn’t genuine.

When I look for explanations of what the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism are, I often get information that doesn’t seem fair. And since I don’t actually know anyone who is a true member of them, it’s hard to get an ELI5 explanation. What I read on the official websites of the movements isn’t really descriptive enough for how that applies in the real world.

So, if anyone would like to share their impressions of both the movements/how they differ to Orthodoxy AND their relationships to Israel and Zionism, I’d be really grateful. I’d especially like to hear accounts from people who are part of those movements and from Orthodox Jews.

P.S. I know that it’s still Shabbat in most of the world so some people may not reply, but we just did Havdala and I wanted to post this before I forget 🙂

submitted by /u/f34rl3ss_th0t
[link] [comments]
Source: Reditt