Jewish Religious Denominations and Ideologies


  • Rabbinic

Jewish branches that evolved from the rabbinic denomination in Judaism, which emerged as the mainstream denomination after the destruction of the second temple.

    • Orthodox

A Jewish ideology practiced on the premise that both the written torah and the oral torah were given to Moses on mount Sinai by God, and are fully binding.

      • Ultra Orthodox

An orthodox ideology that believes that the torah is self contained and does not need to be put into context of the period in which it is was written.

        • Chassidish

An Ultra Orthodox ideology that follows the teachings of rabbi Israel Ba’al Shem, incorporating mysticism in daily religious life.

          • Satmar

A zealous chassidic ideology based on the teachings of rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, renowned for being sharply anti-zionist and for espousing an extremely insular life style, rejecting any contact with the secular world.

          • Mainstream

The collection of many chassidic sects encouraging piety and insularity, prayer and mysticism, and adhering to their respective leaders.

          • Chabbad

An outreaching chassidic group, following the teachings of rabbi Menachem Shneersohn emphasizing mystical thought and study.

        • Lithuanian

An Ultra Orthodox ideology that focuses mainly on torah study and on keeping to the strict letter of the law, historically rejecting the teachings of chassidism.

          • Yerushalmite

A Lithuanian sect that is very insular, usually dressed in distinct eastern European Jewish garb and anti-zionistic.  

          • Yeshivish

A Lithuanian ideology based on the Valozhin/Brisk tradition of extreme emphasis on “only torah”.

        • Chareidi-lite

A semi Ultra Orthodox way of life in which compromises are made between Chareidism and modernity.

      • Mizrachi

An Orthodox denomination defined more by their eastern origin than by ideology.

      • Modern Orthodox

An Orthodox ideology that believes that the Torah needs to be put into context of the period in which it was written and that modern reality should direct us in applying the torah nowadays.

        • Right wing Modern Orthodox

A Modern Orthodox ideology that stresses the importance of belief in the tenets of Judaism and of strictly following halacha.

        • Left wing Modern Orthodox

A Modern Orthodox ideology that stresses the importance of incorporating modern values in religious life, and which tries to be creative in addressing modern issues with halacha to create more inclusivity and space for traditionally non-accepted people like women and LGBT people.

    • Non Orthodox

A Jewish ideology that rejects the notion of either the written torah or the oral torah being given to Moses on mount Sinai by God.

      • Theistic

A non orthodox theology that uses theistic language in its liturgy and religious practices.

        • Conservative

A theology that believes in the binding nature of halacha in a general sense.

        • Progressive

A theology that does not see halacha as binding in any way.

          • Reform

A progressive ideology that accepts the existence of a personal God and sees the Torah as divine in a general sense.

          • Reconstructionist

A progressive ideology that does not accept the existence of a personal God and that sees the torah as a socio-cultural document.

          • Renewal

A progressive denomination that incorporates elements of mysticism and chassidism into a progressive, human-focused liturgy and religious life.

      • Humanistic

A non orthodox ideology that excludes God or divinity from its liturgy and religious rituals.

  • Non Rabbinic

Jewish branches that emerged before Rabbinic Judaism became mainstream, and are therefore not influenced by it

    • Beta Israel

Jewish groups that branched off before the second temple period, and did not participate in mainstream Jewish history since.

    • Sadducees

A Jewish sect that focused on temple service and stuck to a literal reading of the Torah.

    • Messianic

A Jewish sect that focused on messianic teachings, particularly those of Jesus of Nazereth, and which later evolved to become Christianity.

    • Karaites

A Jewish sect that rejected the oral torah and tried to go back to the written torah and read it literally on its own.