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What is the HASIDIC Branch of Judaism?

Jews are divided according to their beliefs and practices and according to their racial origins, as either having roots in central Europe (Ashkenazi Jews) or Spain and the Middle East (Sephardi Jews). Out of these two mountains of Jewish origins there are five mountain passes that traverse the range. This Jewish mountain pass will cover Hasidic as one group since the origin of all mountain passes is streams. They have smaller streams also.

Here is Hasidic history. What distinguishes a Hasid, externally?

A Hasid is distinguished by many characteristics; they speak Yiddish (in the US); they dress in long black garments and wear unstylish black hats at all times. They all grow beards and leave “peyos” side locks, although they sometimes tuck it behind or around the ear. The vast majority of Hasidim wear eyeglasses. What are currently the major Hasidic Sects? While there are hundreds of “shtieblech” and small congregations of 10-15 people, the dominant sects in order of population are: Satmar, Chabad, Ger, Viznitz, Belz, Bobov, Skver, Spinka, Pupa, Breslov, Rachmastrivk, and Toldos Aharon. Where do Hasidim live? While there are some pockets of Hasidim in almost every western country, especially from Chabad (liyubavitch), the most concentrated areas are: Williamsburg – Brooklyn, Borough Park – Brooklyn, Monsey – NY, Lakewood – NJ, Kiryat Joel – Monroe NY, New Square – NY, Bnei Brak Israel, Jerusalem Israel, Montreal Canada, and London UK.

What do Hasidim do for a living?

After WWII, the diamond industry became very popular among Hasidim in the US. Most Hasidim, in the US nowadays, are very successful small business owners. Some run small retail shops in their local communities. Others deal in construction, Real Estate, importing, distributing, and wholesaling of various products. The telecom industry has gained significant popularity in recent years as Hasidim now deal with calling cards and other communication industries.

How do Hasidm dress?

As mentioned earlier, Hasidic men ALWAYS dress in black suits. For the most part, these suits are long (beyond the knees) and are worn in public at all times; 98 degree weather, hurricanes or snow storms. The Uniform is rigid; shoes are black, shirts are white; Tzitzis is worn either on top of the shirt, underneath the vest, or under the shirt. If it is worn on top of the shirt, it is usually a material made of wool that becomes yellow after a while. On the Sabbath, Hasidic men wear “Shtreimel”, a very expensive hat made out of fur, and a Bekishe, a sort of long shiny black garb. Women are always dressed modestly. They never wear pants, or sleeves shorter than elbow, or any flashy attention-drawing dress.

What are the major News Media in the Hasidic world?

Hasidim do NOT watch TV. Although radio isn’t considered that bad, and is generally accepted nowadays, they do not have even a single Hasidic Radio station. News is spread by word of mouth and through their weekly published newspapers “Hamachane Hachareidi” (Belz) Das Blat and Der Yid (Satmar) as well as Chabad’s hundreds of Hasidic publications constantly being released and distributed free (sponsored in part by the Yitzchak Gutnik, a multi- millionaire).

What is the Hasidic interpretation of Kashrus?

The Orthodox community in the US has formed an organization called OU (Orthodox Union) to supervise observance of Kashrus (Jewish dietary laws). Hasidim never relied on their certifications. Instead they formed their own organizations to deal with Kashrus. “Hisachdus Harabanim” in the US and “Eida Hacharedis” in Israel are among the prominent Kashrus certification authorities within the Hasidic community. When Belz revolted against the Satmar affiliated “Eida Hacharedis”, they formed their own organization offering a lot cheaper certification rates but not as trusted among the general population.

What kind of education does a Hasid receive?

A typical Hasidic boy, starts school at the age of three. That’s when a boy starts learning the “Aleph Beth”, the Hebrew Alphabet. At age four, they are already in the Jewish first grade. They start attending two-hour “Secular” classes at age six, as usual. At about the same time, they start learning the “Chumash and Rashi”. At about age Eight they start learning “Mishna” the ancient Jewish Rabbinic Law. At about age 10, they start learning Talmud, the highly complicated and investigative work of Jewish Scholars following the era of the “Tanaim” (authors of the Mishna). By age 12, they already learn “Tosfot” which makes studies even harder, with its highly-convoluted and sophisticated questions it raises and how it reconciles apparent contradictions within the Talmud. At about age 13, a bar Mitzva is celebrated and boys are sent to “Yeshiva Ketane” (Junior Talmudic school). In Yeshiva, Most Hasidic kids engage in a very rigorous and demanding school day. They have a full-day learning schedule with a very small break. They get home 6:30-7:00, or they Dorm in Yeshiva provided residences. While it is common for Hasidic Yeshiva boys to start Secular High School studies allocating 2 hours a day, very few ever graduate High School with a Diploma. At age 16/17 boys usually switch to a “Yeshiva Gedolah” (Senior Talmudic school) where they remain until they marry at age 18-20

What are the gender roles in a Hasidic family?

Men are expected to provide for a livelihood and women are expected to have a lot of babies and run the house. In recent years, taking after some non-Hasidic communities, it has become increasingly popular for Hasidic men to remain in “Kollel” (a post-marriage Talmudic school) while their wives make a living through some semi-professional occupation. A “Kollel” typically pays very little if any for its attendants. Kollel families, lead a very difficult life in terms of meeting their financial obligations.

How many times/ How long do Hasidim pray?

Hasidim like all Orthodox Jews, pray three times a day, “Shacharit” “Mincha” and “Maariv”. On the Sabbath and on Holidays a fourth Tefilla (prayer) is added called “Musaf”. On the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur a fifth Tefilla is added called “Neila”. Shacharit usually takes about 45 minutes and must be done Halachically prior to about 10:30 AM. Mincha can be done any time between noon and sunset. Maariv is done after sunset. They both last about 15 minutes. 10 male adults are required in order to form a “Minyan” and be allowed to conduct the services publicly.

What is the Hasidic attitude towards non-Hasidim?

Hasidim, like the rest of conservative Orthodoxy, does not approve or accept the legitimacy of any non-Orthodox community or practice. Furthermore, even Modern Orthodox communities are considered alien to the Hasidic world. There is little in common between a Hasidic community and a modern-orthodox one, like Yeshiva University, and five-town communities. Some non-Hasidic Lithuania communities, though, maintain very close ties to the Hasidic community, and some Hasidim even attend their Yeshiva schools, as they are considered widely considered better and more thorough.

What is the Hasidic attitude towards non-Jews?

There are laws in the Talmud about non-Jews, allowing certain kinds of deception or fraud in financial relationships. “Ribis” (Usury) is a very common, making it a severe sin to lend money to a Jew for interest, while allowing that to anon-Jew. In addition, if a non-Jew makes any mistake in his financial dealings with a Jew, a Jew is not obligated to let him know. In general, the Hasidic attitude towards non-Jews is one of contempt and disinterest. Children, especially, are taught how “bad” and sinful non-Jews are and are constantly taught to refrain from certain behavior merely for the purpose of “Chillul Hashem” – not to cause a bad reputation, as opposed to it being inherently unbecoming.

How do Hasidim find their sexual mates?

There is no dating in the Hasidic community. Education as well as all other Jewish cultural institutions are sexually separated. A typical Hasidic boy had never spoken to any Hasidic girl EVER, before the matching era begins. When the boy turns 19 and the girl turns 18, Shadchanim (matchers) step in. Shadchanim speculate about what family is suitable financially, aristocratically, and observantly to what family. If they feel a match is suitable they will call up both sides and “red a shiduch” (propose a match). The Shadchan (matchmaker) will try to conceal negative characteristics on both sides, while the sides will try to dig up as much dirt as possible to verify the “suitability” of the other side. If they both pass the investigative stage without any misgivings, they will proceed with the guidance of the Shadchan to arrange a meeting between the parents of the boy and the parents of the girl. If they like each other and are willing to proceed, a meeting will eventually be arranged between the boy and the girl. Depending on the level of devoutness subsequent meetings will be held, but NO DATES, to ascertain the compatibility between the potential mates. Eventually a “Vart” will be called at which point they will close the shiduch and officially announce engagement.

What restrictions are imposed on women?

Women in most Hasidic communities will be discouraged from doing anything other than secretarial or retail-store-related work. Women are discouraged or disallowed to drive a vehicle. No hair of a married woman may be seen by anyone except her husband. Hasidic leaders after WWII grudgingly allowed women to wear wigs in public, in stead of having to wear scarves. Women are strictly prohibited from singing to a male audience. Women will also never hold any public position, or assume any leadership role in the community that involves men.

What language do Hasidim speak?

In the US, Hasidim speak Yiddish as their native language. They later learn English in school and on the street if they ever happen to be somewhere outside the community. They also learn how to read and write ancient Hebrew, although it bears little if any resemblance to the modern Hebrew written and spoken in Israel.

What is the Hasidic relationship to the state of Israel?

After WWII when the state of Israel was established, Jews worldwide were exuberant including most Hasidim. The Satmars, fiercely denounced the state of Israel as run by sinners and against the Jewish teaching to wait for Messiah to redeem them instead of taking matter into their own hands. The Satmars fought a tough battle even among the Hasidic community sympathetic to the Israeli cause, and were even ostracized and ridiculed for that. Eventually, after the Israeli hype subsided, most Hasidic communities followed the Satmar model in terms of bearing no allegiance and making no contributions to the state of Israel, although they never defiantly opposed it.

What is the Jewish non-Hasidic population’s attitude towards Hasidm?

Immediately after WWII there were very few Hasidim in the US. The 6 million strong Jewish population in the US knew little if anything about Hasidim. After their numbers started to grow through immigration and reproduction, their profile started to rise. Most liberal Jews throughout the US are now aware of their existence and have a very liberal and accepting attitude towards them. “I don’t believe in your lifestyle but I respect it and I appreciate your strong Jewish identity.” The exception to this is the Satmars in the 1950’s and 60’s, who were totally ostracized for their radical anti-Israeli views.

What kind of music do they listen to?

MBD- Mordechai Ben David, and Avraham Fried, although non-Hasidic from birth, their music has largely caught on in the more modern elements of the Hasidic community. In addition, there are beautiful recordings from Bobov and Belz available for sale widely.

What kind of entertainment is acceptable?

Sports is not something that isn’t practiced in the Jewish community, although it is not considered sinful or inherently wrong. Most Hasidm do not know or watch baseball basketball football WWF or car racing etc… neither do they do any of the participatory sports like skiing skating roller-blading golfing etc… Watching movies whether in theater or at home or watching TV is totally unacceptable in the Hasidic community, let alone the popular night scene in NYC of bars and clubs, whose existence is virtually not even known to most Hasidim.

What is the Hasidic attitude towards “Baalei Teshuva” and converts?

Hasidim, like the rest of the Orthodox community strongly discourage people from converting to Judaism. This is according to the Talmudic law. They do, however, encourage Jews who have wandered astray to “return”. Chabad is famous for being intimately involved in reaching out to worldwide Jewry, making them aware of their heritage and trying to bring them closer to Orthodox observance, although they will certainly feel immensely satisfied from even a single act of Tefillin. Other Hasidic communities will definitely readily accept any returnee; yet, it would be very hard if at all possible for any non-Hasid-born, let alone non-observant born person to effectively absorb in the Hasidic community.

There are five main branches of Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist, Other. Within these denominations themselves, however, there is a great degree of variation in practice and observance.

Orthodoxy is the modern classification for the traditional section of Jewry that upholds the halakhic way of life as illustrated in a divinely ordained Torah. Halakha refers to the legal aspect of Judaism, and is also used to indicate a definitive ruling in any particular area of Jewish law.

Reform Judaism (also known as Liberal or Progressive Judaism) subjects religious law and customs to human judgment, attempting to differentiate between the facets of the Torah that are divine mandate and those that are specific to the time in which they were written.

Conservative Judaism developed mainly in the twentieth century as a reaction to Reform Judaism’s liberalism. It sought to conserve tradition by applying new, historical methods of study within the boundaries of Jewish law to the mainstream of American society. It is the largest denomination of the four.

Reconstructionism is the most recent denomination within Judaism, and, rejecting the assertion that the Torah was given to Moses at Mount Sinai, views Judaism as a continual process of evolution, incorporating the inherited Jewish beliefs and traditions with the needs of the modern world.

In addition to the four main branches, there are several other noteworthy Jewish movements. Jewish Renewal is a transdenominational movement grounded in Judaism’s prophetic and mystical (Kabbalah) traditions. It seeks to restore the spiritual vitality of the 19th century Hasidic movement, yet like the Reconstructionist movement, believes that Judaism is an evolving religious civilization. Therefore, Jewish Renewal regards men and women as fully equal and welcomes homosexuals and converts.

Reform and or Secular Humanistic Judaism is a movement begun in the 1960s which embraces “a human-centered philosophy that combines rational thinking with a celebration of Jewish culture and identity.” In the Humanistic Jewish view, the focus is not on a relationship with God or religious ritual but in a belief that the “secular roots of Jewish life are as important as the religious ones.” The emphasis is therefore placed on celebrating the Jewish human experience, and Jewish tradition, culture, ethics, values, and relationships.

— Does every Jew fit within a denomination?

Not at all. According to a recent survey, 28% of the 2.6 million married Jews in the US are married to non-Jews. Of those intermarried families, 40% have no clear religious identity, and many consider themselves to be “just Jewish,” without affiliating with any particular denomination

Orthodox and ‘Ultra-Orthodox’ Jews Orthodox Jews follow the original teachings and traditions of the faith closely. They believe that the Torah and the Talmud were given by God directly to the Jewish People in, and so they regard these documents as being God’s actual words and of the highest authority, in setting down the traditions and laws of Judaism Orthodox Jews are the biggest group in most countries outside the USA. “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews obey religious laws very strictly. They live in separate communities and follow their own customs. To some extent they keep apart from the world around them. The Ultra-Orthodox are one of the fastest growing groups of the Jewish people. “Ultra-Orthodox” is not a term that Jews like very much, and it is more acceptable to use the word “Haredi”. Conservative (also called Masorti) Jews fall somewhere between Orthodox and Reform Jews Judaism – Index Core Jewish Beliefs Life of Abraham Life of Moses Types of Judaism Introduction Orthodox Jews Hasidic Jews Reform Jews Contemporary Jewish Issues Useful Links Hasidic Jews Hasidic Jews are a sub-group of Haredi Jews, but the two terms are not interchangeable. The essential elements of Hasidic Judaism are the high importance given to mysticism rather than learning, and the reverence given to the leader of each of the many sects within the movement. Hasidism began in Poland in the 18th Century. Hasidic Jews were almost completely wiped out in Europe in the Holocaust. [Note: “Hasidic” is often spelled “Chasidic”, and it’s worth using both versions, and a double “s” as well when doing online searches.]

Reform Jews and Humanistic Judaism

Reform Jews have adapted their faith and customs to modern life, and incorporated the discoveries that modern scholarship has made about the early Jews. The Reform movement began in Germany in the early 19th Century.

They do not regard the Torah and Talmud as the actual words of God, but as words written by human beings inspired by God.

Reform Jews believe that because the words of these texts were not directly given by God, they can be reinterpreted to suit the conditions of a particular time and place. So, for example, men and women can sit together in a Reform synagogue, when they would be rigorously segregated in an Orthodox synagogue.

However, there are still many elements of Judaism that Reform Jews regard as unchangeable, even though they may be less observant in many other areas of belief.

A particular feature of Reform Judaism is a strong belief in the importance of creating a just society, and many Reform Jews have been in the forefront of political activism.

Reform Jews are the largest group in the USA, where there is currently a gentle movement back towards traditional practices in worship.

Reform Judaism is strong in Britain, where it is much more traditional than the USA version. The closest British equivalent to US Reform Judaism is the Liberal movement.

Reconstructionist and Humanistic Judaism are modern American movements. They are particularly attractive to those Jews who are uncomfortable with the supernatural elements of the other types of Judaism.

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