Rabbi Jacobs discusses the various Jewish groups which make up the contemporary world.
He begins with a discussion of the charedim. He points out that their approach to religious matters, for example dress, is uncompromising, although the term ultra-orthodox is misleading.
Turning to the orthodox he considers their interaction with and differences from the charedim. He outlines the various programmes of education in both the charedi and orthodox worlds and their ambivalence to secular learning.
Modern orthodox however have a different philosophy to both the charedim and ultra-ortodox, particularly in respect of education. Modern orthodoxy follows Samson Raphael Hirsch’s philosophy of Torah im derech eretz; Torah with worldly study. Secular learning has a value in itself, it is not just a means of preparing to earn an income. Modern orthodoxy plays an active role in Israeli life and has a positive attitude to the scientific study of Judaism.
The philosophy of Judaism as a dynamic religion, as espoused by Zecharias Frankel led to the Conservative grouping. This philosophy allows Conservative Judaism to reconcile contemporary science and social attitudes with religious belief.
Reform Judaism resulted from changes to synagogue services to make them more compatible with dominant religious norms in Germany, influenced by Christianity. Not all suggested reform innovations, such as the abolition of circumcision, were adopted.
The twentieth century saw the growth of the Liberal movement, which did not think that the innovations of Reform had gone far enough.