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Encyclopedia > Orthodox Union
"OU" logo.
"OU" logo.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of Americaâ„¢ (UOJCA), more popularly known as the Orthodox Union, or OU, is one of the oldest Orthodox Jewish organizations in the United States. It is best known for its kosher supervision service, with the circled-U symbol found on the labels of many commercial and consumer food products. Image File history File links Orthodox Union kosher supervision trademark Image obtained from a licensed user of the image (one of the food companies that uses the OU Kosharuth Supervision service). ... A logotype, commonly known as a logo, is the graphic element of a trademark or brand, which is set in a special typeface/font, or arranged in a particular, but legible, way. ... Orthodox Judaism is the oldest form of Judaism practiced by Jews. ... The circled U indicates that this can of tuna is certified kosher by the Union of Orthodox Congregations. ...


The OU supports a network of synagogues, youth programs, Jewish and Religious Zionist advocacy, programs for the disabled, localized religious study programs, and some international units with locations in Israel and Ukraine. A synagogue (from Greek συναγωγη, transliterated sunagoge, place of assembly literally meeting, assembly) is a Jewish house of prayer and study. ... The word Jew (Hebrew: יהודי) is used in a wide number of ways, but generally refers to a follower of the Jewish faith, a child of a Jewish mother, or someone of Jewish descent with a connection to Jewish culture or ethnicity and often a combination of these attributes. ... The Religious Zionist Movement, or Religious Zionism is an ideology combining Zionism and Judaism, which offers Zionism based on the principles of Jewish religion and heritage. ...


It is one of the largest Jewish Orthodox organizations in the United States. Its synagogues, and the rabbis who lead them, are mostly part of the world of Modern Orthodox Judaism. brendan is gay ... Modern Orthodox Judaism (or Modern Orthodox, also known as Modern Orthodoxy and sometimes abbreviated as MO) is a movement within Judaism that attempts to synthesize Orthodox Judaism with the secular modern world in its interactions with it. ...


This organization should not be confused with the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, a distinct Haredi rabbinical group with a similar name that was founded a few years after the OU.


History

The OU was founded in 1898, and today serves almost 1,000 congregations of varying size. The need for a national Jewish Orthodox rabbinical organization in the early twentieth century was recognized by a number of groups. The Union of Orthodox Rabbis was the most powerful rabbinical body at that time and many of its members saw the great value in eastblishing the early Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. 1898 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s The 20th century lasted from 1901 to 2000 in the Gregorian calendar (often from (1900 to 1999 in common usage). ...


Originally, the OU was formed by leaders of the Jewish Theological Seminary, with the charter coming from its headquarters in New York City, where it had been located since 1886. The first cracks between the OU and JTS formed in 1902, with the founding of the Agudah Harobonim, exactly 100 days after Solomon Schechter's arrival from Great Britain to lead JTS. The Agudah refused to recognize the credentials of those ordained at JTS, thus fragmenting Orthodox Judaism from Conservative Judaism. (See, American Judaism by Jonathan Sarna)


Some Orthodox rabbis viewed the nascent OU as insufficiently Orthodox, and thus did not participate in it, instead setting up their own more stringent rabbinical organizations.However, the idea for a national Orthodox congregational body took hold, and soon developed into the OU that exists today. The OU grew slowly until the 1950s, when it then began increasing the number of affiliated congregations (most of them small, but many of them of a large size.)


Most synagogues affiliated with the Orthodox Union were under the leadership of rabbis trained by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and alumni from Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theologiacal Seminary. These rabbis were ideologically Modern Orthodox. Joseph Ber (Yosef Dov) Soloveitchik (1903-1993) was an Orthodox rabbi, Talmudist and modern Jewish philosopher. ... Yeshiva University Yeshiva University is a private Jewish university in New York City whose first component was founded in 1886. ... Modern Orthodox Judaism (or Modern Orthodox, also known as Modern Orthodoxy and sometimes abbreviated as MO) is a movement within Judaism that attempts to synthesize Orthodox Judaism with the secular modern world in its interactions with it. ...


The OU plays a significant role in supervising kosher foods. It is the most well-known hechsher (kosher supervision agency) in the world and among the most widely accepted. In 2005 over 60% of kosher foods in the US are supervised by the OU, encompassing more than 275,000 products from over 2,400 manufacturers, produced in nearly 6,000 plants in 77 countries.[1] For its food supervision arm the OU has hired mostly Haredi and even Hasidic rabbis known as mashgichim (i.e. [kosher food] supervisors). The circled U indicates that this can of tuna is certified kosher by the Union of Orthodox Congregations. ... 2005 is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar and is the current year. ... Haredi Judaism, also called ultra-Orthodox Judaism, is the most theologically conservative form of Judaism. ... Hasidic Judaism (Hebrew: Chasidut חסידות) is a Haredi Jewish religious movement. ...


The OU holds all member synagogues to Orthodox Jewish interpretations of Jewish law and tradition. Men and women are seated separately, and nearly always are separated by a mechitza, a physical divider between the men's and women's section of the synagogue. OU synagogues follow Religious Zionism, meaning that they support the existence of the State of Israel. The laws of Shabbat (the Sabbath) and Kashrut are stressed. Members of OU synagogues have a diverse political background, and are not necessarily members of any one political party. Orthodox Jews are somewhat more politically conservative than those in Reform and Conservative congregations. Halakha (הלכה or Halakhah, Halacha, Halachah) is the collective corpus of Jewish rabbinic law, custom and tradition. ... The Religious Zionist Movement, or Religious Zionism is an ideology combining Zionism and Judaism, which offers Zionism based on the principles of Jewish religion and heritage. ... For the observance of a seventh day of rest in religions other than Judaism see Sabbath. ... The circled U indicates that this can of tuna is certified kosher by the Union of Orthodox Congregations. ...


Prayer is done exclusively, or almost exclusively in Hebrew, using the same traditional text of the siddur (prayer book) that has been used in Ashkenazi Jewish communities for the last few centuries. Until recently the most common prayerbook used in OU synagogues have been Ha-Siddur Ha-Shalem edited by Philip Birnbaum. In recent years the most common siddur has been the RCA edition of the Artscroll siddur, a prayerbook that is identical to the regular Artscroll siddur, but for the addition of a new preface, and prayers for the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces. Until recently the most common Hebrew-English Humash used has been the Pentateuch and Haftarahs, edited by Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz; in recent years this has been supplanted by The Chumash: The Stone Edition, also known as the Artscroll Chumash. Jewish services are the prayers recited as part of observance of Judaism. ... The Modern Hebrew language is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family. ... The siddur is the prayerbook used by Jews the world over, containing a set order of daily prayers. ... Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim (אַשְׁכֲּנָזִי אַשְׁכֲּנָזִים Standard Hebrew, AÅ¡kanazi,AÅ¡kanazim, Tiberian Hebrew, ʾAÅ¡kănāzî, ʾAÅ¡kănāzîm), are Jews descended from the Jewish communities of Germany, Poland, Austria, and Eastern Europe mostly established between the 10th and 19th centuries. ... ArtScroll is an imprint of translations, books and commentaries from an Orthodox Jewish perspective published by Mesorah Publications, Ltd. ... The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) (Hebrew: צבא ההגנה לישראל Tsva Ha-Haganah Le-Yisrael ([Army] Force [for] the Defense of Israel), often abbreviated צהל Tsahal, alternative English spelling Tzahal, is the name of Israels armed forces, comprising the Israel army, Israel air force and Israel navy. ... Humash or Chumash (Hebrew: חומש) is one name given to the Pentateuch in Judaism. ... Joseph Herman Hertz, 25 September 1872–14 January 1946, was the first graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1894) and later the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire. ...


The official youth program of the OU is the National Conference of Synagogue Youth known as NCSY. It sponsors the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists.


For many years the OU, along with its related rabbinic arm, the Rabbinical Council of America, worked with the larger Jewish community in the Synagogue Council of America. In this group Orthodox, Conservative and Reform groups worked together on many issues of joint concern. The group became defunct in 1994, mainly over the objections of the Orthodox groups to Reform Judaism's official acceptance of patrilineal descent as an option for defining Jewishness. (See Who is a Jew.) The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) is the worlds largest organization of Orthodox Jewish rabbis; it is affiliated with The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, more commonly known as the Orthodox Union, or OU. History The roots of the organization go back to 1923 when it was... The Synagogue Council of America was an organization of American Jewish synagogue associations, founded in 1926, including : The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox) The Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox) The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (Conservative) The Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative) The Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Reform... Conservative Judaism (or Masorti Judaism) is a denomination of Judaism characterized by: A positive attitude toward modern culture The belief that traditional rabbinic modes of study, and modern scholarship and critical text study, are both valid ways to learn about and from Jewish religious texts. ... Reform Judaism (also known as: Progressive Judaism, while in the U.K. Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism, together, make up Progressive Judaism) is a branch of Judaism characterized by: The belief that an individuals personal autonomy overrides traditional Jewish law and custom. ... Judaism is the Jewish religion, but Jews, religious or not, also form an ethnic group or nation. ...



Note on division of JTS from Orthodox/neo-Orthodox to Conservative: The JTS has a policy of using critical-historical scholarship to deconstruct religious practices and texts. Traditional Torah study, allows critical thinking, but does not allow revisionism, nor the suggestion of non-divine origins. It also places strictures on contradicting or overturning accepted scholarship. Thus, JTS practices were always seen as heretical by most Orthodox rabbis. As the JTS form of scholarship evolved to the Masorti way of today, this view became universal among Orthodox Jews. Today, this has led to a nearly complete split of Orthodoxy from Conservative, and further underlies the OU's leaving the Synangogue Council. Torah study is the study of Jewish religious texts by Jews for the religious (as opposed to academic) purposes. ...


See also

A hechsher (he: הכשר) (plural: hechsherim) is a marking on products (generally foods) certifying that the item is kosher. ... The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) is the worlds largest organization of Orthodox Jewish rabbis; it is affiliated with The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, more commonly known as the Orthodox Union, or OU. History The roots of the organization go back to 1923 when it was... Orthodox Judaism is the oldest form of Judaism practiced by Jews. ...

External link

  • Official website of the Orthodox Union

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