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Israel

Reconstructionist Judaism has long viewed Israel as an essential element of Jewish peoplehood. 

Starting with little, what Israelis have achieved in just a few generations is astonishing. Israel has absorbed millions of Jews seeking refuge; revived the Hebrew language; shared breakthrough agricultural, medical, computer science, and communications technologies with the world; created the freest press in the Middle East; and maintained a parliamentary democracy with peaceful transitions of power from one election to the next. There is nowhere safer in the Middle East to be openly gay, to demonstrate against the government, or to publicly criticize the opinions of religious leaders. This small country provides a safe haven for Jews in a world that, 75 years ago, was often either hunting them or else denying them entry as refugees.

In the North American Jewish community, many of us have spent time in Israel and have a visceral connection to the people, the land, and the society. Many of us also have family and friends there. Collectively, we’ve grown up with Israel, followed its triumphs and tragedies, felt both pride and disappointment in its actions, and tracked the news from Israel day to day. Israel can be complex, raw, engaging, controversial, maddening, and inspiring – sometimes all in the same day. Home now to almost half the world’s Jews, Israel is deep in our hearts.

Our love for Israel has not blinded us to the Israeli Occupation, to its daily impacts on the Palestinian people, or to the need for a just and lasting peaceful resolution to the conflict. As North American Jews, we understand our relationship to our governments – both Canadian and American – to be complex. And very often we celebrate our home country’s positive contributions to humanity and critique our home country’s moral failings – all in the course of having a loving, complex, honest, and even critical stance towards understanding our own societies.

As Reconstructionists, we are similarly called to engage with Israel in a mature and loving, complex and honest way. Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan supported a Zionism grounded in three core values: Jewish survival, Jewish cultural and religious renaissance, and Jewish ethical nationhood. He promoted a vision in which two vibrant centers of Jewish life – Israel and the North American diaspora – would productively and fruitfully support, shape, and when needed, give feedback and critique to each other.

Today we continue to engage with Israel through Kaplan’s basic framework. Though political views differ among members of our movement, our Reconstructionist ideals tend to attract Jews who share Kaplan’s values. We are a movement of people who welcome the complexities, questions, concerns, dilemmas, debates, and critiques that come with the territory of caring deeply about a country and its society. 

We hope you’ll explore the Israel section of our website with eyes that are open to both Israel’s wonders and its flaws, and with an appreciation of our tradition’s love of presenting multiple viewpoints. Over time, we’ll share:

  • Resources for adult and youth education on Israel
  • Resources for planning individual or group trips to visit Israel
  • Links to remarkable cultural, religious, and advocacy organizations in Israel and the Palestinian Territories
  • Essays and op-eds by different individual members of Reconstructionist communities
  • Examples of liturgy about Israel and the hope for peace
  • Links to LGBT organizations and events in Israel
  • Links to liberal synagogues and havurot in Israel, as well as Israeli groups promoting Jewish religious pluralism in Israeli society

We’ll also post Israel-related public statements from RRC/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities on the Israel home page, and maintain an archive of them here.

Finally, got a suggestion for a resource you didn’t find here? Or maybe you have a resource you’d like us to consider adding? Please let us know using this feedback form.

Israeli Jewish Renaissance

Recently in Israel, there has been an exciting new trend toward Jewish engagement among Israeli Jews who do not identify as Orthodox. This movement strives to connect a renewed interest in Jewish learning, celebration, and community building with values like democracy, tolerance, diversity, pluralism, and general concern for Israeli society and its future. We call this the Israeli-Jewish Renaissance. This Facebook community is the first stage in a larger project sponsored by RRC that will bring the sounds, words, images and ideas of the Israeli-Jewish renaissance to progressive North American Jews, and create a gateway for further understanding and collaboration between these two important groups.

Gathering of tour group in Israel

Israel Experts

Plan an Israel tour that goes beyond the basics with Israel Experts, in partnership with the Reconstructionist movement!

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A Version of Israel's Secular Shabbat -- Via a Song

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A Guide to Talking about Israel in your Congregation

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Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom

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Limiting Debate on Israel Will Only Hurt Us

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Israeli-Jewish Renaissance: Lights in the Darkness

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Hope and the New Zionism

Adina Newberg sees the ideals of Israel’s Declaration of Independence under increasing pressure, but also acted out by community leaders.

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Lights in the Darkness

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A Light Gone Dim

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Flight to Tel Aviv

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