HUMA 1865 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Reconstructionist Judaism, Maimonides, Gender BinaryExam
Course CodeHUMA 1865
ProfessorDonald A Burke
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HUMA 1865 TUTR 8 October 4, 2019
Tutorial Exit Questions
1. What are the key teachings in the Torah? Look in the textbooks and provide a minimum of three
One of the major teachings in the Torah is the fact that there is only one God. Jewish belief
revolves around monotheism, where there is one God that Jews worship (unlike polytheistic
religions such as Hinduism). The textbook mentions how “there is one Creator God, the ‘cause of
all existent things’” (8.3). Another key teaching in the Torah is one’s love for God. The textbook
mentions how Maimonides, a medieval philosopher, emphasizes that one should not love God for
selfish reasons, but out of pure love of God. The last of many key teachings mentioned in the
textbook is the sacredness of human life. It says that humans are created in the “image” of God
(referring to the Creation in Genesis 1). This is seen as more metaphorical and spiritual rather than
literal. Humans can mirror God’s greatest qualities, including justice, wisdom, righteousness, and
love. Overall, there are many different teachings within the Torah that would take a long time to
explain separately, but the textbook outlines a few key teachings in the Jewish belief.
2. List the major branches of Judaism (Modern). Provide one or two points for each one
The first major branch of Modern Judaism is Reform Judaism. In this branch, there is no
contradiction between being a Jew and a German. They believe that Judaism must change and adapt
to everyday needs to survive. Reform Judaists see the Torah as a God-inspired document. Next
comes the opposite of Reform Judaism: Orthodox Judaism. It was a reaction to reform Judaists and
considered the most traditional form. Their beliefs are strict and follow a structure through doctrine.
A major part of Orthodox Judaists is that they are gender binary (e.g. men and women are separated
in the synagogue). In addition to the two branches mentioned, Conservative Judaism is major as
well. This was seen as the middle ground between Reform and Orthodox Judaism. It is not as strict
as Orthodox. The final major branch is Reconstructionist Judaism. Reconstructionist Jews must
believe that God is not a being and does not intervene in human life. A reconstructionist sees God
as a power working through nature and human beings. Rather than seeing themselves as God’s
chosen people, they understand themselves as being called upon to do God’s work.
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