In a separate thread, wil asked me to discuss my views of the various branches of Judaism. Here they are, in what I believe is the correct chronological order (although I'm not bothering to check my facts). Orthodox: Practicing the religion as it has been for centuries, with a real attempt to follow all laws of Torah and Talmud. Chasidic: They believe that God wants us to be happy, and that prayer should be joyful with song and dance. But also, they believe that God wants them to be more orthodox than the Orthodox. Reform: Being Jewish without seeming too strange around white Protestants. Not much concern for the laws. Conservative: Trying to find a middle ground between Orthodox and Reform. The old joke defines Conservative Judaism as when the rabbi is Orthodox and the congregation is reform. Except that these days, the Conservative rabbi is likely to be a woman, or openly gay. Reconstructionist: God is a human-created social construct, not a supreme being, but God is still worth worshipping. Many but not all keep kosher, strictly observe Shabbat, etc. Renewal: A merging of Chasidic joy with Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist open-mindedness. Renewal comes out of the cultural changes of the 60s, and tends towards left-wing politics and alternative lifestyles. I'm most comfortable with Reconstructionist and Renewal Judaism.