I thought it would be interesting to map the religious observance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and the Jews. I’ve recently heard some podcasts and read some posts talking around this issue, so I thought, since I have at least one foot in each religion, I might give it a try.
BIG, GIANT DISCLAIMER: This is very GENERAL. It is not meant to apply to everyone. Some areas may be different for an individual. I am willing to discuss where you think I might have gotten it wrong, but please realize the GENERAL nature of it all.
First a few paragraphs of explanation.
The LDS faith is a relatively young (180 years old) religion and is governed from a very centralized structure. Judaism, on the other hand, is much older (anywhere from 6000 to 3500 years, depending on who you ask and what you consider the start of Judaism). Since the destruction of the Temple, it is very decentralized and there are only a few groups with any kind of centralized structure.
I divided the tables along the different groups of Judaism and overlaid Mormons to it. So definitions of the various groupings are in order.
Orthodox – The strictest of the Jewish divisions. They are divided into three distinct groups: Modern Orthodox Judaism and Haredi Judaism, and Hasidic sects. Also important in those divisions is where the Jews are Ashkenazic (mainly from Northern and Eastern Europe) or Sephardic (from Southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East). They follow different Rabbis and different interpretation of the Law. They are the most conservative of the Jewish groups and believe they follow the laws as given anciently. Women are held in a traditional role and do not openly participate in the worship services or have any role as a worship leaders. Priesthood, while largely ceremonial plays a role in worship services
Conservative – This group represents the largest group of Jews and the name can be deceiving. It does not imply conservatism as applied to politics, but it is an effort to “conserve” Jewish tradition through modernization of its teachings and practices. Begun in Germany in the 1850s, it strives to apply modern principles but traditional in practice. More liberal than Orthodox, it has no central leadership or specific declaration of belief. It would rather be known as Masorti or Traditional Judaism because of the confusion over the name conservative. Women have a much larger role in this movement and are allowed to be Rabbis, Cantors and perform all the rites of the faith the same as men. Priesthood, while also ceremonial, plays a role in Worship services
Reform – Traces its origins to the early 20th century in Europe and the US. It is the most liberal wing of the faith and values autonomy, modernity and universalism. The reform movement in Judaism challenged many traditionalist Jewish doctrines, adapted or eliminated practices, and introduced its own theological and communal innovations. It was the first group to offer full participation to women in its leadership and religious worship. Priesthood usually plays no role in worship services. Orthodox Jews do not even recognize the movement as being Jewish.
Conservative – Those Mormons who fully embrace the faith, its teachings, practices and traditions. They may adhere to traditions which might not have real scripture basis and have a very strict interpretation of Sabbath practices, scripture study and prayer. They follow the words of the leaders as closely as possible. There may be little to no questioning of doctrines and practices. They try to do everything possible to lives the Gospel fully as they understand it. Very active.
Middle of the Road – Fully embraces the faith, its teachings, practices and cultural traditions. May question certain traditions as relevant in modern times and might be flexible on Sabbath adherence such as TV viewing, clothing (not wearing Sunday clothes all day). They might have a lot of questions about gospel doctrine and past practices but general manage to have a strong testimony. Active in Church and callings.
Liberal – These folks might embrace the gospel fully but with big questions about certain beliefs. They might also reject certain doctrine as being not fully explainable or in line with scripture or history. They question the words of leaders and apply those things which they understand have real value to their lives. They might reject some “advice” or teachings. Most liberal Mormons still attend some or all Church meetings, but do not always find satisfaction in the meeting content or the lessons. The gamut ranges from active to very less active. Less sure of the one true nature of the LDS Church. Might be known as New Order, Cafeteria or Buffet Mormons.