The Jewish Denominations

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- The Conservative movement represents a shrinking proportion of the Jewish population, though it is also seeing rising synagogue attendance rates and increasingly strong educational institutions. The range of observance within the movement is wide, and many observers have commented on the wide gap between the observance level of Conservative clergy and laypeople.

- Reconstructionist Judaism, the smallest and newest of the major denominational groups, has seen increased growth in recent years, and has benefited from the fact that its members have made an active choice to be affiliated with the movement; because of the denomination's small size and youth, most congregational members do not attend "by default"--because they have longstanding connections to the movement or because it is the only available synagogue option--but because Reconstructionist Judaism speaks to them.

- Orthodox Judaism has attracted growing members of non-Orthodox Jews to its ranks. Orthodox communities are increasingly vibrant and well-educated, and ritual observance has become increasingly stringent and conservative. At the same time, Orthodoxy has become more withdrawn from and wary of the broader secular culture. At the same time, feminists and other liberal-minded Orthodox Jews have challenged this shift to the right; their synagogues, schools, and other institutions ensure lively diversity and debate within the Orthodox world.

jewish world today quizThese four movements are generally considered to be the "major" denominations, but other groups also are categorized as denominations:

- Secular Humanist Judaism believes in cultural Judaism without belief in God or traditional observance. It ordains rabbis and has temples for services.

- Jewish Renewal has infused Judaism with meditation, chanting, and other popular elements of contemporary spirituality and kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). It, too, ordains rabbis and has affiliated synagogues.

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