This chapter introduces Orthodox Judaism, which is viewed phenomenologically, defined broadly, and recognized in the systems of beliefs and practices maintained by Orthodox Jews. It mentions the halakhah or Orthodox religious law that conceives the ‘practices’ part of the Orthodox Jewish system. It also reveals Orthodox Jewish practices that are not pursued to accord with halakhah but can be characterized as minhag or custom. The chapter looks at Orthodox Judaism in America since the nineteenth century and examines a series of halakhic changes or changes in what is deemed to be proper Orthodox conduct. It explains the various directions in which ‘acceptable’ Orthodox behaviour is developing from a social and psychological perspective.
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