Originally Posted by ema-adama
Also, my understanding of the current Othrodox Judaism is slightly different. Ie Judaism was not always 'orthodox' like it is today. The current Orthodox interpretation of Judaism is a backlash to the Reform movement. Where Judaism has been evolving and changing through the ages, with the birth of the Reform movement there was an understandable need to keep the traditions of Judaism alive. And so a movement that looked to preserve the Judasim of the day was born at around the same time. Orthodox Judaism from Eastern Europe and the Judaism from North Africa and the Middle East are quite different from each other. But the histories of the communities living in these different areas is also very different. (Also worth noting that Reform Judasim has gone through changes and Reform in Israel is different from Reform in the USA)
Well sure the cultural differences between Ashkenaz and Sepharad, and Edot HaMizrach (communities from Middle Eastern and other Eastern areas) are different. However all share the same commitment to Torah and not one disputes it was given by G-d. In fact, one of the amazing things about the disparate communities is that even through all the centuries of exile and isolation, each kept the same Torah.
The Torah of the Yemeni community is the same as the Persian, is the same as the North African, is the same as the Egyptian, is the same as the Ashkenazi, is the same as the Bukharian and Afghani...etc. Cultural customs might be somewhat different, but even prayer nusach (service) is very, very similar. Same Shemona Esrei (major prayer). Same Sh'ma. Same Tehillim. Same all around. Maybe the order of things is a bit different, maybe different p'erakim (chapters) in Pesukei d'Zimra (early morning prayers), etc. Otherwise, the same.
All of those non-western communities, by the way, never had the splits in 'denomination' as did Ashkenaz. No Reform/Conservative/Reconstructionist movement. Those who were less observant...were /are just less observant. They are very traditional. You know that expression...'the shul we/they don't go to is Orthodox.'
Which is why Reform and Conservative hasn't caught on much in Israel the way it did in the US. Since the majority of the population is Sepharad/Edot HaMizrach and very traditional (even if not 'observant') the change in hashkafic focus (religious perspective) in the Reform/Conservative mvmts is just too...much. From my experience with this (significant, as it was a part of my dissertation) they think those movements are a joke -- even if they go to soccer games and the beach on Shabbat.
Anyway, back to the topic. Regardless of those kinds of issues, I would never ever characterize any Jewish movment as calling the Torah a 'collection of writings.' But still, for the purposes of comparison with another religion, it's worthwhile to use as a marker the kind of Judaism that's been around for almost 4,000 years as opposed to a break-off movement that's less than 200 years old. Dontcha think?