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Masorti is traditional Judaism practised in a spirit of open-minded enquiry and tolerance. Masorti Judaism accepts the binding force of Jewish law and understands that it has developed throughout history. You will find a much fuller discussion on Masorti Judaism below.
What is Masorti Judaism - the organisation?
Masorti Judaism is the umbrella body that serves all Masorti communities in Britain. MJ is affliated to both Masorti Olami (World Masorti), and to Masorti Europe. Within the UK, we act as a central co-ordinating body, with responsibility for promoting Masorti ideology and for assisting in the development of our communities. To achieve these aims we run many activities.
Our organisation exists:
To be a central resource, communicating and teaching the Masorti message both internally and externally
To represent our members nationally and internationally and in dialogue with other denominations and faith groups
To foster and develop new communities
To provide support for our smaller communities
To provide services no one synagogue can or should offer. These include our youth movement, NOAM; our young adult centre, MAROM; our Rabbinic Court; Lishma Jewish Study Centres and our outreach activities
To provide learning opportunities and to inspire.
What is Masorti Judaism?
The most frequently asked question of any Masorti rabbi is: What is Masorti Judaism? This is not an easy question to answer. On the one hand, Masorti Judaism is no more than a shade within Judaism itself. Given the many shades and differences to be found within Orthodoxy, within Masorti Judaism and even within Reform Judaism, it is hard to draw clear lines or borders between the movements.
The basic beliefs of a Masorti Jew are no different than those found in traditional Judaism. We believe in a God who created the world. We believe in a covenant between God and the people of Israel. We believe that we are commanded, as a part of that covenant, to live a special lifestyle, spelled out in the Torah and articulated in halacha – Jewish law. We accept that this law is defined by the classical books of the rabbis: the Mishnah, the Talmud, and thereafter refined through the codes and responsa.
The main principle that defines Masorti Judaism is our relationship to modern science and scholarship. What role do the results of modern studies, particularly in the fields of history, archaeology, bible scholarship and literature play in the understanding of our tradition? The Masorti approach to this question is unequivocal: the results of these sciences cannot be ignored. They must be used to inform our religious beliefs, to help us understand our tradition better. They cannot be rejected outright, without careful consideration of their claims.
There are many areas where the results of scholarship and tradition seem to contradict. In these instances it is our position that we must interpret the tradition in a way that it doesn't contradict our knowledge from other sources. This is not a matter of convenience. The only reason to follow a tradition is because it is true. If we accept our tradition as truth, then it must agree with the facts as we know them. This means that, although we believe in the same things as traditional Judaism, how we understand those things is influenced by the findings of modern science and modern thought.