Introduction to Judaism

The course gives the student an overview of Judaism's core beliefs, important figures and organisations, and history. It exists to give the student a full overview of what Judaism is, what Jews believe in, and an idea about what the culture of Judaism is all about. It will not go into major detail in any direction, such action is reserved for more advanced and specialized courses.

Judaism consists of different streams.

  • Orthodox Judaism maintains Jewish law as prescribed by the Talmud and later works of Jewish law, and maintains that no changes can be made to this code of law. 'Orthodox' Judaism is thus the stream which has most faithfully endeavored to preserve the observance of Jewish law throughout the centuries, in contrast to the non-Orthodox streams which separated from it during the past 200 years.
  • Non-Orthodox Judaism maintains that Jewish law can be changed by human beings to reflect changes in technology and culture. This should not, however, be confused with the natural progression and evolution of Jewish practice.

Because the viewpoints held by the Orthodox and non-Orthodox streams of Judaism are radically different on many points, this introduction has been split up into an introduction to traditional or Orthodox Judaism and an introduction to non-Orthodox streams.