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judyprays's avatar

What are some topics jews argue about within the denominations? (Reform, Orthodox, Secular...)

Asked by judyprays (1304points) November 5th, 2008
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22 Answers

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FiRE_MaN's avatar

jews do not really argue about it i dont think.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Judy, Are you asking what do we argue about intra-denominationally or inter-denominationally?

(As a note to my fellow flutherites: Please don’t attempt to answer when you really don’t know. It really brings down the quality level of the site.)

judyprays's avatar

i guess i meant inter but either is good.

some examples are israel, cremation, judaism as a race, self deprecation, inter marriage…

I’m just doing some research about aspects of judaism that jews themselves debate about.

Mtl_zack's avatar

to follow the fundamentals or to interpret the torah


separation of men and women

tattoos, piercings, orthodontics and cosmetic surgery

answerjill's avatar

Heck, Jews of different denominations even argue over who is a Jew! The Reform movement accepts patrilinial descent, while the Conservative and Orthodox movements do not. That is, Reform Jews consider someone to be Jewish if s/he has a parent who is Jewish—father or mother. More traditional forms of Judaism, only recognize a person as Jewish if his/her mother is Jewish. Of course, one can always convert to Judaism, but the movements also argue over what makes for a proper conversion! There is a saying: “Two Jews, three opinions.”

augustlan's avatar

I’m pretty sure that you can’t convert to Orthodox Jew. I was married to a Jewish man for 17 years and – as I understood it – the Orthodox only accept you as a Jew if you were born to a Jewish mother. Inter-marriage is a big one.

gailcalled's avatar

We Jews also argue about food; is it OK to follow the dietary laws at home but eat bacon and lobster at a restaurant? Is a Shabbos Goy kosher? Is an electric timer kosher? Is the Sabboth feature on the new ovens kosher?

We argue about arguing. Did she say or did he say or did no one say or did everone say (at the same time)?

We interrupt. We outshout (at least, my aunt Beverly does).

We always buy wholesale.

When depressed, we usually turn to food rather than booze.

At the Reconstructionist Synagogue I was a member of, we used to interrupt the Rabbi during his homily and debate every point.

We ask questions that some more Protestant folks think are nosy. Where did you go to school? What do you do? How much do you earn per annum?

gailcalled's avatar

^^ After knowing someone for five minutes.

answerjill's avatar

Augustlan, it is possible to convert to Orthodox Judaism.

augustlan's avatar

Really? What would you have to do to accomplish that? I was told I would never be accepted by the Orthodox. Interesting…

answerjill's avatar

From what I have seen, it is not easy to get an Orthodox conversion. According to tradition, if you approach an Orthodox rabbi and tell him that you want to convert, he is supposed to try to dissuade you at first and then see if you still want to do it. Once the rabbi agrees to help you convert, you need to study Judaism for a long time and show that you can live according to the strictures of the religion. When the rabbi thinks that you are ready, then you go before a Beit Din (religious court). If they think you are ready, then you will go to the mikvah (ritual bath). Men also have to get a circumcision. I’m no expert on all of this, though.

augustlan's avatar

Thanks, AJ.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

@answerjill, You’re right about the process, but that’s the process for most sects, as far as I know (I’m not familiar with reconstructionist/reform procedures), not just Orthodox. It’s hard to convert to Judaism and it is a long process because a person should be very committed to Judaism, and if they have any doubts about it should not undergo the conversion process until absolutely sure—hence the dissuasion and extensive studying.

Also, many orthodox and ultra-religious communities will not accept a conservative or reform conversion and those converts are not considered Jewish in their eyes, whereas conservative and reform communities will accept their own conversions (obviously) and the orthodox and ultra-orthodox conversions.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I’ve always been taught the same as answerjill. I think she decided to be tactful with “Men also have to get a circumcision” and leave it at that. The long version of the story is, if a man is already circumcised, Orthodox Jews will require that they get it poked with a needle and so that 1 drop of blood comes out to symbolically circumcise it in a religious way, since the first time was by a doctor, and not a moil (i think i spelled that wrong. correct away.)

What are some other issues different denominations take different views on?

-Women as rabbis, reform and conservative recognize and ordain women as rabbis, orthodox doesn’t.

-tattoos – some Jews believe that tattoos are forbidden, but others do not, this tends to be an orthodox vs. reform thing.

-Israel, it seems like everyone has a slightly different idea of what would be ideal for Israel. Orthodox tend to favor a more religious government, Reform more secular.

-education – orthodox jews believe that young men should go to yeshiva. conservative and reform are much more likely to send their young men and women to regular american secular college just like any other american would attend.

I wouldn’t characterize this as arguing as much as having different viewpoints. I would say most of the arguing goes on intra-denominationally, because it’s not like I go over to Orthodox synagogues and tell them that they should be including the matriarchs and ordaining women, and giving women equal opportunities, or that they come over to my house and tell me to throw out the shrimp, but I do have my opinion on what’s right as far as women’s rights, and they have their opinion on eating shrimp.

I would say most of the arguing is about interpretation of Torah, but that happens mostly intra-denomination. For example, what exactly is kosher for passover, and what’s not? Some things are clear-cut, but others are quite hazy. This seems like a topic that will never have a definitive answer. I get so confused with the whole thing I just eat whatever I want (oops?)

Hope this helps with your project, Judy!

srmorgan's avatar

Just to add to what La Chica Gomela said, and it was a great answer…..

Study of Torah is where the phrase “splitting hairs” originated. You can see long discussions going back a thousand years or more that rotate around insignificant (to you or me) statements or questions. It’s too late for me to discuss this intelligently but the discussions and comments are just layer upon layer of the sagacity of the old Rabbis.


Trustinglife's avatar

Very interesting responses from everyone. Three general topics to add:

-“Chosenness.” Did God choose the community of Israel? If so, to do or be what? Does that make us more special? Give us more obligations? Or is chosenness just an outdated idea?

-Relationship to other religions. How welcoming should we be of other spiritual paths and their influence on some Jews (Hin-Jus, Bu-Jus, etc.)? How much meditation should be present in prayer services? Is interfaith dialogue valuable? If so, how to do it?

-Death of Judaism in America… or, assimilation. Will Judaism survive? How? How do we keep teenagers and young adults interested? What is a proper Jewish education in these times? How welcoming to be of intermarriage?

I guess most of these questions are more intra than inter. I didn’t consciously set out to answer this question with a million questions. How Jewish of me!

answerjill's avatar

Questions about what happens to you after you die—although this is not necessarily an inter-denominational argument.

@omfgTALIjustIMDu : Very true that you need to learn and show dedication in order to convert to any denomination. I just put it that way because from what I have seen, you need to jump through many more hoops to get an Orthodox conversion. This may also be a part of why Ortho do not usually accept non-Ortho conversion.

Just a note: there are tons of intra-denom arguments. To name just a couple—There is disagreement in the Conservative movement about ordaining openly gay rabbis. In the Orthodox movement, there are tons of divisions, especially between Modern Orthodox and Hareidi (“ultra-Orthodox”). I could go on and on about the disagreements and differences among different divisions in the Ortho world at different levels of classification (Mitnagdim v. Hasidic, and then Lubavitchers who believe that the Rebbe is Moshiach, those who don’t)....

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

@answerjill, Agreed, I just wanted to clarify for the person who asked the question and other users who might have read it.

And answerjill is 100% right in her answer above ^^^^, there is an infinite amount of arguments and disagreements between every denomination in Judaism, from major issues to details as intricate as the right color of blue to be used on the Tallit (prayer shawl) fringes.

If you have any specific questions about disagreements between the denominations, this questin might be easier to answer and we could give you more in-depth and more accurate information.

Amish_Ninja's avatar

Who ate my matzah? Where’d my chicken noodle soup go?

nina's avatar

If you consider secular jews a separate denomination, and I believe it is, they love arguing about the value of observance. They actually are just as down on the observant jews as observant are on them.

Tomfafa's avatar

Jews always argue… it is the basis of our intelligence, I think. One think we don’t do is kill each. (well… it happened once)......................................................................................why are jewish boys circumcised? because jewish girls don’t touch anything unless it’s 25% off!

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