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Becoming Orthodox: The Story of a Denominational Label

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Publication Date: January 2008

Publisher(s): Association for Jewish Studies; Association for Jewish Studies

Author(s): Jeffrey C. Blutinger; Jeffrey C. Blutinger

Series: AJS Perspectives: The Newsletter of the Association for Jewish Studies, Spring 2008, pp.8-11.

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)
Social conditions (History)

Keywords: Orthodox Judaism; History; Language; Culture

Type: Report


The author traces uses of the term "orthodox" to describe Jews from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. He contends that the term originally referred to opposition to Enlightenment ideas, and had no connotations regarding religious practice, in parallel with German uses of the term. By the 1840s, the author explains, the term had come to have connotations of religious practice and opposition to the religious reform movement.