Just like in other religions, Judaism has different denominations or movements. Rabbis who are part of these movements are called “affiliated”. Some rabbis choose not to affiliate with a movement at all. These rabbis are called “post-denominational” or “pluralistic”.
Here’s what you need to know about the movements our rabbis belong to:
Conservative Judaism (Masorti outside North America) – Living the legacy as Israel (“The one who struggles with God”) by steering clear of precise theological dogmas, Conservative Jews—each wrestling with the tradition in their own way—are diverse in belief and practice. In addition to classic Talmudic scholarship, Conservative rabbis learn from advances in science, sociology, literature, and other disciplines to determine Jewish Law for our time. Today, Conservative communities embrace gender egalitarianism and celebrate LGBTQ as members. Conservative Judaism is the vital religious denominational center of the Jewish community.
Reform Judaism – The great contribution of Reform Judaism is that it has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt, and to bring faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship. Reform Judaism affirms the central tenets of Judaism – God, Torah and Israel – even as it acknowledges the diversity of Reform Jewish beliefs and practices.
Jewish Renewal – combines the socially progressive values of egalitarianism, the joy of Hasidism, the informed do-it-yourself spirit of the havurah movement, and the accumulated wisdom of centuries of tradition. Jewish Renewal values deep ecumenism; in Hillel’s words, we learn from every person and spiritual tradition; creating innovative, accessible, and welcoming prayer experiences; shaping halacha (Jewish law) into a living way of walking in the world and seeking to deepen the ongoing, joyful, and fundamental connection, with a God Who connects us all, which is at the heart of Jewish practice.
Post Denominational/Pluralistic – this term refers to committed Jews, congregations and educational institutions that [choose not to identify with] a conventional denominational label for one reason or another. As individuals, they experience ideological and stylistic differences with the available denominational options. Post-denominational rabbis are ordained by rabbinical schools that focus on helping them understand Judaism outside of the context of a particular denomination. At Darshan Yeshiva, our post-denominational rabbis serve primarily Conservative and Reform communities and tend to follow the halachic observances of these two progressive Jewish traditions. In addition, our Pluralistic rabbi in Italy serves a Reconstructionist community.
Humanistic – Humanistic Judaism offers cultural and secular Jews a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people. Humanistic Judaism embraces a human-centered philosophy that combines rational thinking with a deep connection to the Jewish people and its culture. Humanistic Jews value their Jewish identity and the aspects of Judaism that offer a genuine expression of their contemporary way of life. Humanistic Jews celebrate Jewish holidays and life cycle events (such as weddings and bar and bat mitzvah) with inspirational ceremonies that draw upon but go beyond traditional symbols and liturgy.
Reconstructionist – Reconstructionist Judaism sees Judaism as the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people in its ongoing relationship with God. [Its] rituals, customs, laws, sacred texts and practices reflect that evolution. [Reconstructionists] seek ways of living that reveal holiness and godliness in the world, and see the tradition as having a vote, not a veto in that quest. Seeing innovation and adaptation as deeply traditional, [Reconstructionists] cultivate and support Jewish living, learning, and leadership for a changing world. Darshan Yeshiva currently does not have any Reconstructionist-ordained rabbis, however we do have post-denominational rabbis serving Reconstructionist communities.