The Anglo-Jewish Community
This chapter provides an overview of the Anglo-Jewish community. Anglo-Jewry, like other post-emancipatory Western Jewish communities, defined itself almost exclusively as a religious community. Its central institutions were voluntary and reflected this formal religious definition. The most basic, local level of affiliation was the synagogue, to which members paid annual dues. The synagogues, which exhibited a considerable level of internal religious differentiation, divided themselves into a number of religious groupings, including the Ashkenazi Orthodox, Sephardi (these two groupings viewed themselves as traditional elements), Reform, and Liberal (these latter two viewed themselves as progressive elements). The essential theological demarcation between the traditional and the progressive groupings lay in their claimed relationship to halakhah, the Jewish legal code, and its practical application. In essence, however, the actual difference in thought or observance between members of different groupings was often blurred.
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