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Orthodox Judaism is the strictest, most traditional form of nowadays Judaism. It holds that both the scripture of the Torah and mouth-to-mouth traditions later written down in the Talmud etc., were actually and literally given by God, and that past rabbis handed them over without change and were always faithful in deciding how they applied to reality. Because of this, Orthodox Judaism is very careful in holding to the tradition of past rabbis, and is very conservative on how current rabbis may decide what the law is in new cases. Orthodox Jews consider themselves as the only truly faithful Jews and reject all the new non-Orthodox forms of Jewish thought, religious or secular, that came to be in the last 250 years (since the Jewish community lost its powers to enforce people, and Jews began to be citizens of the modern state). Even so, they are a product of new times just like everyone else: Their community organizations were created so they could separate from other Jews because those stopped being religious. The Orthodox also had to make very new ways of thinking and acting to deal with the big changes.
As of 2001, Orthodox Jews and Jews affiliated with an Orthodox synagogue, accounted for approximately 50% of Anglo Jewry (150,000), 25% of Israeli Jewry (1,500,000) and 13% of American Jewry (529,000). (Among those affiliated to a synagogue body, Orthodox Jews represent 70% of British Jewry and 27% of American Jewry).
Its followers must usually promise the following:
- Not to commit murder, idolatry (worship of idols)
- Not to engage in certain sexual practices prohibited by the bible
- Observe the shabbat. Jews must not do work on a shabbat.
- Eat only certain things. These dietary laws are known as Kashrut.
- Taharat Hamishpacha, the laws of family purity, restricting sexual relations for a prescribed time around menstruation and after childbirth.
- Circumcision for males.
- American Jewish Religious Denominations, United Jewish Communities Report Series on the National Jewish Population Survey 2001-01, (Table 2, pg. 9)
- Synagogue membership in the United Kingdom in 2010
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