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This situation began to change with the Age of Enlightenment and calls by some European liberals to include the Jewish population in the emerging empires and nation states, as well as with Jewry's own Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment).This group argued that Judaism itself had to reform in keeping with the social changes taking place around them.Other Jews insisted on maintaining strict adherence to halakha (Jewish law and custom).In Germany, the opponents of Reform rallied to Samson Raphael Hirsch, who led a secession from German Jewish communal organizations to form a strictly Orthodox movement with its own network of synagogues and schools.In contrast to Modern Orthodox Judaism, which hastened to embrace modernity, the approach of the Haredim was to maintain a steadfast adherence both to Jewish Law and custom by segregating themselves from modern society.
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. In Israel, Haredi Jews are sometimes also called by the derogatory slang words dos (plural dosim), that mimics the traditional Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation of the Hebrew word datim, meaning religious, The forebears of the contemporary Haredim were the traditionalists of Eastern Europe who fought against the new movements emerging in the Jewish communities.
Sometimes the community has been characterized as "Traditional Orthodox", in contradistinction to the Modern Orthodox, the other major branch of Orthodox Judaism (not to be confused with the movement represented by Union for Traditional Judaism, which is yet more "modern" than the Modern Orthodox). For several centuries before Jewish emancipation, most European Jews were forced to live in Jewish ghettos, where both the culture and their religious observances were preserved.