Haredi Judaism  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Haredi Judaism is a stream of Orthodox Judaism characterized by rejection of modern secular culture. Its members are often referred to as strictly Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox in English. However the term "ultra-Orthodox" is considered a derogatory slur by some in the community. Haredim regard themselves as the most religiously authentic group of Jews, and although this claim is contested by other streams, it is a perception which is often held in wider Jewish society.

Haredi Judaism emerged in response to the sweeping changes brought upon the Jews in the modern era: emancipation, Enlightenment and the Haskalah movement derived from it, acculturation, secularization, religious Reform in all its forms, Jewish nationalism etc. In contrast to Modern Orthodox Judaism, which hastened to embrace modernity, the approach of the Haredim was to maintain a steadfast adherence to Jewish religious law by segregating itself from modern society.

Their communities are primarily found in Israel, North America and Western Europe. During the Holocaust, their numbers were devastated, with whole communities wiped out. Their estimated global population currently numbers 1.3–1.5 million and due to a virtual absence of interfaith marriage and a high birth rate, their numbers are growing rapidly. Their numbers have also been boosted by a modest number of secular Jews adopting a Haredi lifestyle.

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