Four different kinds of Judaism:

1. Reform Judaism (its site)

2. Conservative Judaism

3. Reconstructionist Judaism

4. Orthodox Judaism



Greenstein, Howard R. Judaism Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983. (US movements only )

Epstein, Isidore. Judaism A Historical Presentation Mitcham: Penguin, 1959.

Unterman, Alan. Jews: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices London: Routledge, 1981.

This article follows mainly on Greenstein's books; page number without mentioning the author is referred to Greenstein. Greenstein describes the US movements only. For example, Reform Movement is launched by Moses Mendelssohn in Germany, but Stephen S. Wise is the founder in US. [see Epstein p.296] Epstein's book gives a detailed history on its development, but less portrayal of the US's situation. History of the Jews in US and Canada is depicted in Limberg's book and it provides a statistic of Jews' population in the world [p.33] Anti-Semitism is described in p.179f, and Jewish-Christian relationship is discussed. "All modern movements in Judaism stern directly or indirectly from the Enlightenment (i.e. Haskalah explained in Greenstein p.xii) - the movement which characterized the general atmosphere of the eighteenth century and represents the efforts of Western mankind to apply the rule of reason to all phases of human life. In the domain of religion, the autonomy of reason involved the rejection of all dogma, authority, and tradition, every individual being declared to be sole judge of his belief;" quoted from Isidore Epstein p.287.

Moses Mendelssohn penetrated it into Judaism.

He accepted 3 articles:

He translated Hebrew Bible into German. [Unterman p.215] His supporters called themselves Maskilim and published a periodical, Hameasef (the Collector). They used Hebrew, and disdained (reject in contempt) the Judaeo-German vernacular (Yiddish). [Epstein p.287]

1. Reform Judaism


a) "Classical" Reform: 1810 - 1881 in Europe. (started from Germany) goals: Under the influence of New world (US), the individualism, rationalism, universalism, and optimism. Reform Movement in Germany is halted by the Breslau Conference in 1846, which broke down on the question of the transference of the Saturday observance to Sunday. After that, the center of Reform movement shifts to US. Jewish immigration from Germany, beginning in 1830, reached its climax in 1848-50, because of the failure of 1848 Revolution. Under the leadership of Isaac Wise, and David Einhorn and other Rabbis, the movement is established in US. [Epstein pp.295-6] b) "Radical" Reform: 1881 (Pittsburgh Platform) - ends in early 1930s in Nazi Europe goals: Result: Halakah, mitzvah gone; abandons peoplehood. Sunday worship; confirmation.

c) Change of Radical Reform: 1937 Columbus Platform goals:

Principles: [p. 116]


David Friedlander (1756-1834) : [Epstein p.291] Medelssohn's disciples. He aims for assimilation of Judaism with the outside world. In 1799, He petitioned for conditional conversion to the Lutheran authorities in Berlin--- that the Jews can be excused from believing in the divinity of Jesus and from practising the distinctive rites of Christianity. [Epstein p.291]

Israel Jacobson (1768-1828): Establish the first Jewish Reform Temple in 1810. German sermons, prayers, chorals. [Epstein p.292] "He saw himself as improving on preemancipation Judaism and not as creating a new religious movement." [Unterman p.215]

They started the re-assessment of some Jewish doctrine, incompatible to German Jews. For example, the hope for a return to Zion, the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, and reinstitution of sacrifices. [Unterman pp. 215-6]

Samuel Holdheim (1806-60) and Abraham Geiger (1830-74) caused Reform to a more radical phase. They "asserted unequivocally that Judaism was wholly religious and had nothing national about it, and accordingly proceeded to advocate the abolition of all laws and ceremonies which tended to make the Jews distinct from their neighbours." [Epstein p.293]

Founder: Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise [p.117]

1873 Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC). [= Union of Reform Judaism]

1875 Hebrew Union College (Seminary for Reform Rabbis)

1950 merged with JIR ---> HUC-JIR

David Einhorn (1809-99) [Epstein p.296]

Viewpoint/History: The denial of the authority of the Bible and Talmud by Reform Judaism made for individualism. Many Synods are held to hold together the Reform Rabbis, but most of the synods resulted in hopeless division. The most important one is held in Frankfurt (1845), in which most delegates advocated to keep Hebrew, only for the older generation. "This readiness to surrender Hebrew led to the secession of Zechariah Frankel (1801-75), who founded the 'positive-historical' school of Judaism, which divorced belief and practice, and combines full freedom of inquiry relating to Israel's creed and Israel's past, with an observance of Jewish law and national traditions as the product of the collective experience of the Jewish people." [quoted in Epstein p.294]