The Jews of Portland (Oregon) : their religious practices and beliefs Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/n009w492x

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  • This dissertation is concerned with the synagogue-affiliated Jews of Portland, Oregon. Employing an elaborate questionnaire this writer examined the ritual practices (home and synagogue) and traditional beliefs of Judaism as practiced or accepted by the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jews of Portland and thereby attempted to reach a conclusion whether the three groups are actually three in practice or merely three in name. The findings of the study, in regard to the synagogue-affiliated Jews of Portland, include: 1) The Jewish laymen's degree of performance of rituals is well below that theoretically required or suggested by their respective rabbis and denominations; 2) In actual practice the Orthodox perform traditional rituals and accept traditional beliefs more consistently than the Conservative, who in turn practice traditional rituals and accept traditional beliefs more consistently than the Reform; 3) The Orthodox and Conservative are almost equally observant of those rituals which each denomination considers major; however, the Reform are not as devoted to their major rituals as the Orthodox or Conservative are to theirs; The Conservative and Reform are almost equal in devotion to those rituals considered minor by their respective denominations (there is very little devotion to them); 5) The average educational background of the Reform member higher than that of the Conservative member, which in turn higher than that of the Orthodox member; 6) Those with the lowest educational background in each denomination (except in Reform Judaism) tend to be the most observant of rituals and accept the most traditional beliefs in that denomination. There is a general tendency to become less observant and accept fewer traditional beliefs as one acquires more educational background. This generalization, however, ceases to be a valid instrument of differentiation when one compares people of college education (as within the Reform movement). The validity of this differentiating device is most striking when comparing people of grammar school and high school backgrounds (as within the Orthodox and Conservative groups); 7) There are two separate and distinct groups (Orthodox and Reform) in Portland in regard to practice of rituals of the home, rituals of the synagogue, and acceptance of traditional attitudes and beliefs. (This individuality of denomination exists not only when the previously mentioned rituals and beliefs are considered individually but also when they are considered collectively. ); 8) The Conservative, however, are merely a midway group between the Orthodox and the Reforrn whose members, on the average, could generally feel comfortable in parts of either the Orthodox or Reform groups.
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