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Reconstructing for Tomorrow: Reconstructionist and Reform Movements

The Reconstructionist movement investigates a natural or transnatural understanding of God…that is, setting aside the personal idea of God…and embraces the laws of natural science and accept that they are contained within a divinity.

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Our third session with Rabbi Deborah Waxman focused on unpacking the ideological and practical differences between the Reconstructionist and Reform movements. Though we collectively acknowledged that this topic is more complex than what can be touched upon in a one-hour conversation, Rabbi Deborah Waxman illuminated a few major divergences between two denominations which occasionally overlap. Historically, Reconstructionist thinkers reject a “personal” God in favor of a “natural” or “transnatural” understanding of God, in which laws of science and history are embraced within a divine presence. The Reconstructionist movement stands alone among most expressions of Judaism in setting aside the idea of Jews as a “chosen people.” At the College of Reconstructing Judaism, the movement focuses in on rabbinic training as a lay-rabbinic partnership, rather than rabbis as a figure of authority. Finally, we touched on the many aesthetic difference between Reconstructionist and Reform congregations and services.

The Reconstructionist Network