Orthodox Judaism is a branch of Judaism based on strict interpretations and applications of laws and ethics that were first canonised in the Talmudic texts, or “the Oral Law”. 


Orthodox is the most traditional expression of modern Judaism. Orthodox Jews believe the entire Torah – including “Written” (The Pentateuch) and “Oral,” (the Talmud) – was given to Moses by God at Sinai and remains authoritative for modern life in its entirety. According to a 1990 nationwide U.S. survey, 7% of American Jews are Orthodox. American and Canadian Orthodox Jews are organized under the Orthodox Union, which serves 1,000 synagogues in North America.
Orthodox Jews reject the changes of Reform Judaism and hold fast to most traditional Jewish beliefs and practices.

Orthodox Judaism has held fast to such practices as daily worship, dietary laws (kashruth), traditional prayers and ceremonies, regular and intensive study of the Torah, and separation of men and women in the synagogue. It also enjoins strict observance of the Sabbath and religious festivals and does not permit instrumental music during communal services.

Orthodox Jews consider Reform and Conservative Jews adherents of the Jewish faith, but do not accept many non-Orthodox Jewish marriages, divorces, or conversions on the grounds that they were not performed in accordance with Jewish law.

The Orthodox Union dedicates significant resources to its OU Kosher division, which certifies an estimated 660,000 products in 77 countries around the world. The OU symbol is one of the most common certification symbols seen on kosher food products.


Orthodox Judaism believes that the words of the Torah (including the Pentateuch, i.e. Written Law, and the Halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai, i.e. the Oral Law) were dictated by God to Moses as they exist in modern times. These core religious laws are derived from Sinaitic beliefs. In Orthodox Jewish tradition, the Written Law was transmitted with an Oral Law by Moses on Mount Sinai, as spoken to Moses by God. The laws contained in the Mitzvot were given with the detailed explanations of how to apply these laws and interpret them. Through guidance in the practical application of Halahkha (Jewish law), the majority of Jewish religious groups appeal to the Shulchan Aruch, or the code of Jewish laws dating back to the 16th century. Although this doctrine varies from sect to sect within Judaism, the varying between these codes are a result of the Historic dispersal of the Jews and the consequent regional differences. Orthodox Judaism, despite having a variety of sects, mostly share the same intertwining beliefs, practices and theologies with Orthodox movements all sharing the same religious principles. Also, the Orthodox religion considers itself to be the only true creed to traditional Jewish standards, with many of its followers believing that all other non-Orthodox Jewish religions are unacceptable and not authentic (due mainly to doubt over interpretations of the Written and Oral Torah).


Orthodox Judaism is a monotheistic religion, or believes that there is one God. Another element of the religion is that Orthodox Jews believe that a definitive Jew is one that is born to a Jewish mother (therefore, rejecting those of paternal Jewish descent), or one who converts to Judaism in accordance with Jewish law and tradition. Also, Orthodox Jews do not believe in intermarriage (between races or religions) and such an action is considered to be a complete rejection of Judaism in general. Despite the typical isolation of an Orthodox Jew who chooses to marry outside of their faith, there are some Chabad Lubavitch and Modern Orthodox Jewish circles that reach out and accept intermarried Jews.

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