Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

< Q2.12 TOC Q2.14 >

Question 2.13:
What are OCR (O-C-R) wars? Why all the flames?


These are disputes among Orthodox-Conservative-Reform Jews, perhaps the most regular and least productive discussion topic.

Why is this? Perhaps it's a carryover from Talmudic study, in which decisions are reached by proposing a series of ideas, vigorously attacking them, and seeing which remain standing when the dust clears. Everyone is expected to be able to state his first principles and demonstrate how his practices are consistent with said principles.

If the correctness of one of your practices is attacked, the best defense is to show that it is consistent with your principles, but not the attacker's. Once a debate boils down to different principles, there's nothing more to add, except to try to change each others' principles somehow.

Another form of attack is to assert that another group's practices harm the Jewish people or Jewish survival. That group may well disagree with your assessment. If the different assessments are due to different principles, there's nothing more to add.

Before jumping into the RCO pot, consider the following story, which was shared by David Kaufmann:

Rabbi Manis Friedman, at a lecture to the women's organizations of a Reform synagogue and Chabad (co-sponsored by both), gave the following parable/analogy:
The Jewish people are like children of a father gone on a long journey. They argue over what type of soup their father wants when he comes back - and are busy preparing the soup. "Father will want chicken soup, just like he did before." "No, Father wanted chickens soup then, now he'll want vegetable soup." When the father returns, what will matter is that the children cared most about what their father wanted and tried to have it ready for him.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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