The Plenum: Purpose and Membership
What Is the Plenum?
The plenum of the Reconstructionist movement is a group of representatives from each affiliated congregation and havurah who discuss and share the issues of the day, both internal movement discussions and thoughts on the movement’s relationship to the world. In order to foster that kind of discussion, the goal is to create a stable group, where representatives stay engaged with the plenum for a couple of years or more.
Plenum members give input for and vote on various matters in the Reconstructionist movement. Examples of these issues include sharing their perspectives on issues of inclusivity and diversity, and voting to affirm candidates for special commissions.
The plenum meets for a business meeting at least two times per year — by video conference call — and has ongoing communications before, between, and after each meeting.
The plenum includes one representative from each affiliated congregation or havurah. This can be the current president, another officer, or another designated person. As noted above, the goal is that this person stay engaged with the plenum for at least a couple of years.
Congregations can designate their representative by sending an email to Maurice Harris indicating their representative and their contact information. If no one has been designated in advance of the voting meeting, the staff of Reconstructing Judaism will assume that the congregation’s president will serve as the authorized representative to that meeting.
There are several categories of non-voting, ex officio members of the plenum:
- Rabbis of affiliated congregations
- Chair of the RRC board of governors
- Chair of the Jewish Reconstructionist Camping Corporation board
- Chairs of the movement commissions (Youth and Education, Movement Growth and Financial Health, Tikkun Olam)
Business of the Plenum
Agenda items for plenum sessions will include (but are not limited to):
- Votes on public positions as recommended by the Tikkun Olam Commission, and policies of the Reconstructionist movement
- Positions are taken in response to larger world developments. They are externally oriented (e.g., gun control, hunger, immigration policy). The board of governors will also vote on positions, separately from the plenum. Both the plenum and the board must agree for something to become the official position of the Reconstructionist movement.
- Policies are internally directed and guide the practice and behavior of the Reconstructionist movement (e.g., patrilineal descent, egalitarian roles). The plenum, board of governors, and membership of the RRA must all approve a proposal for it to become a policy for the movement.
- Regular updates on movement priorities
- Regular reports from the Congregational Services Committee
- Reports as needed from the movement commissions: Youth and Education, Movement Growth and Financial Health, Tikkun Olam
- At every spring meeting, the RRC president will facilitate a discussion on emerging budget and program priorities of the central organization.
The plenum also has a role in electing leadership of the central movement organization:
- The plenum elects its own chair, who serves as the chair of the Congregational Services Committee.
- The plenum also elects a congregational representative for the Congregational Services Committee and one for the Movement Advisory Committee.
- Finally, the plenum ratifies the board of governors slate for at-large governors and select ex officio governors, including the chairs of the movement commissions (Youth and Education, Movement Growth and Financial Health, Tikkun Olam).