What is Judaism?

Judaism is a monotheistic faith which began more than 5,700 years ago. Jews believe in One God. Though God is present in our everyday lives, each person connects with God in his or her own unique and personal way:  some through prayer, some through ritual, some by performing good deeds, and some experience God in the majesty of nature. Other Jews, while taking seriously the ethics, values, and traditions, may not think explicitly about God at all.

Judaism teaches that all people are equally important because we were all created in the image of God. People have free will to choose between doing good or evil. Jews feel a unique connection with each other; we feel that regardless of where in the world we live, we are bonded as a global Jewish community.

The Torah, our most sacred text, contains the first five books of the Bible. It provides the guidelines by which we live and conduct ourselves and our everyday lives. We believe in and follow the Ten Commandments.

The Torah tells us the covenant was made between God and the Jewish people in Israel. Israel is therefore a sacred place and holds a place of significance in the world view of every Jew.

There are three main branches of Judaism, as well as several smaller branches. The main branches are Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. The Orthodox Jews adhere most strictly to the ancient rules of living, while Reform Jews take a more liberal approach. Conservative Judaism developed as a middle ground.

                                                                   More about Reform Judaism

Reform Judaism began about 200 years ago in Germany, as a way for Jews to introduce innovation to the religion, while preserving tradition. Reform Judaism affirms the central tenets of Judaism (God, Torah and Israel), while it acknowledges the diversity of Reform Jewish beliefs and practices.  In lieu of strict ritual observance, reformers emphasized ethical teachings of the biblical prophets as the way to reinforce the ideals of justice, freedom, and peace. Reform Judaism emphasizes charity and principles of social justice. Tikkun Olam (repairing the world)  is a hallmark of Reform Judaism, as we strive to bring peace, freedom, and justice to all people.

In the decades following its creation, Reform Judaism spread from Europe to North America and throughout the world. Prayer books shifted from all Hebrew text to a mixture of Hebrew and the local language, prayers became more inclusive, music became part of the services, ritualistic garb became optional, services grew shorter and livelier, and women assumed an equal role as members of the clergy.

Reform Jews are committed to the principle of inclusion. Since 1978 the Reform Movement has been welcoming Jews-by-choice and interfaith families.  Reform Jews consider children to be Jewish if they were born to either a Jewish father or mother, as long as the child is raised as a Jew.

Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of women in all areas of Jewish life. We were the first movement to ordain women rabbis, install women cantors, and elect women presidents of our synagogues. In addition, Reform Jews welcome the full participation of gay men and lesbians in synagogue life. Reform Judaism is an evolving religion.

There are approximately 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America, belonging to nearly 900 congregations. A recent survey found that 35% of Jews in the U.S. consider themselves Reform. Temple Or Hadash is a Reform Congregation.