While Judaism finds its genesis in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, its modern-day expression is largely a function of the destruction of the temple in AD 70. As such, Judaism now finds expression in Torah study rather than temple sacrifice. The three main branches of Judaism are Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative.

First, Orthodox Judaism (Torah Judaism) is best known for its strict dedication to the eternal and unalterable Mosaic Law as reinterpreted by rabbis subsequent to the fall of Jerusalem. Only through devotion to the complex code of Jewish law (Halakhah) can one experience nearness to God. Orthodox Jews await a rebuilt temple, a Jewish Messiah who will restore the kingdom to Israel, and the physical resurrection of the dead. Ironically, it is possible to be an Orthodox Jew and yet not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Furthermore, unlike Orthodox Judaism, which teaches that observance of the Law leads to freedom, Reform Judaism (Liberal) begins with the freedom to decide what Law to observe. In other words, human autonomy trumps the authority of Halakhah. As a movement arising in the eighteenth century, Reform Judaism seeks to adapt to the modern world in order to preserve Jewish identity amidst pressures of assimilation. Thus, Reform Judaism is reformed and always reforming.

Finally, Conservative Judaism (Historical) is a late–nineteenth-century reaction to the liberal tendencies inherent in Reform Judaism. As such, Conservative Judaism forges a middle way between Orthodox and Reform Judaism. On the one hand, adherents embrace modern culture. On the other, they observe Jewish laws and customs without the fundamentalistic fervor of the Orthodox. (Source: Christian Research Institute)

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