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Session 4: The Need to Wrestle with Difficult Issues

PRESENTER: Rabbi Shira Stutman (RRC ’07)

Rabbi Shira Stutman

YouTube segment: Rabbi Shira Stutman (click here to watch)


Key ideas for discussion:

One of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan’s great insights was to observe that Judaism was a civilization – not just the religion of the Jews. Rabbi Stutman makes the case for revisiting the idea of Judaism as a religion in this era. At Sixth & I, there’s a strong focus on teaching people “hard skills” – the skills involved in participating and leading Jewish ritual, so they can actually practice the religion. “If people don’t know how to have a Shabbat dinner, they will not have a Shabbat dinner.”

“Fee for service” makes some people uncomfortable, but in American culture it is an essential way that people express what they value. There’s no membership at Sixth & I – it has gone against the grain of conventional wisdom and designed itself as a place that is almost entirely fee-for-service.

“Our competition is not the synagogue down the street. Our competition is Soul Cycle. Our competition is going for a walk. Our competition is yoga. …We are a proselytizing congregation.” Our young people want meaning and personal human flourishing.

Some of the most interesting work happening Jewishly today is happening outside the denominational structure. 100 years from now we won’t have denominationalism that looks how it looks now.

“The world is not living in denominations. Our young people do not care. They want meaning. They want to feel of value. They want to feel welcomed in, no matter who their partners are, no matter how they identify about Israel, no matter how they identify about Judaism. They don’t care what the denomination is.”


Connected Resources

Sixth & I

Example of program series on Israel issues: “The Hardest Conversation”

Podcast: New Jewish Spaces


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The Reconstructionist Network

Serving as central organization of the Reconstructionist movement

Training the next generation of groundbreaking rabbis

Modeling respectful conversations on pressing Jewish issues

Curating original, Jewish rituals, and convening Jewish creatives

The Reconstructionist Network