tradition

How come Judaism is broken into several different branches?

How come Judaism is broken into several different branches?

MADDIE’S QUESTION:

What caused Judaism to break into branches? Are the branches even seen as a division? Does theology differ among them?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

The questioner has “a Christian background" and, thus, is familiar with a religion made up of separate groups. 

Christianity has long been divided into four main families, the so-called “Oriental Orthodox,” the Eastern Orthodox, Catholicism and Protestantism. A fifth family of new, independent churches in the developing world developed in the 20th Century. 

Islam, too, suffered the big breach between Sunni and Shia believers in the first century that continues to be troublesome, and sometimes lethal, today.

By contrast, for much of its history Judaism was essentially one united faith, though naturally it encompassed various movements, tendencies, cultures and local variations.

That began to change with the modern emancipation and assimilation of Jews in Western Europe. A liberal form of the faith developed, especially in Germany, and flourished among 19th Century German immigrants in the United States. Worship was simplified, Hebrew was downplayed in favor of worship in common  languages with Protestant-style sermons, and age-old observances were eliminated or made matters of personal choice.

The resulting liberal branch or denomination eventually known as Reform Judaism centered on three North American institutions, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now Union for Reform Judaism) that 34 synagogues formed in 1873, Hebrew Union College to train rabbis (1875), and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (1890).

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With Irish friars, New York Times finds yearning for tradition, community and even faith?

With Irish friars, New York Times finds yearning for tradition, community and even faith?

Here we go again, yet another positive GetReligion post about an elite newsroom's coverage of a religious issue on foreign soil. I hope that readers won't hold all of these positive vibes against me, especially since, in this case, we're talking about The New York Times.

But first, do you remember the semi-shock felt by many traditional Catholics when National Public Radio did that glowing report on the Dominican sisters in Nashville? That was the report that opened like this:

For the most part, these are grim days for Catholic nuns. Convents are closing, nuns are aging and there are relatively few new recruits. But something startling is happening in Nashville, Tenn. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are seeing a boom in new young sisters: Twenty-seven joined this year and 90 entered over the past five years.
The average of new entrants here is 23. And overall, the average age of the Nashville Dominicans is 36 -- four decades younger than the average nun nationwide.
Unlike many older sisters in previous generations, who wear street clothes and live alone, the Nashville Dominicans wear traditional habits and adhere to a strict life of prayer, teaching and silence.

Now the Times has gone to Cork, Ireland, and discovered a very similar story focusing on a house of Dominican friars. The narrator, in the beginning, is recruiter Father Gerard Dunne and the topic is the medieval habit and rosary that, in a significant way, symbolize this order's approach to the faith.

Spot any themes that are similar to the earlier NPR piece?

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Your weekend think piece: The roots of those omnipresent Catholic political 'frames'

Your weekend think piece: The roots of those omnipresent Catholic political 'frames'

There was an interesting exchange in our comments pages this week linked to a subject that is frequently discussed here at GetReligion, which is the nasty tendency among journalists to use political labels to frame believers who are involved in debates over doctrine. The hook for this discussion was Dawn's post that ran with the headline, "What is this? Seeing red over RNS piece on 'conservative' cardinals."

I feel rather torn on this issue, because everyone knows that there are doctrinal conservatives (some call this the camp of the orthodox) and there are doctrinal liberals (some prefer the camp of the progressives). What really frosts my oleanders is when journalists use the term "reformer" in discussions of doctrine (as opposed to, let's say, matters of bureaucracy, worship and tradition.

Perhaps readers may recall those dictionary definitions of "reform," as a verb:

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