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

Collection of contemporary images from Israel

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. 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. 

Many of us living in Diaspora Jewish communities 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 about half the world’s Jews, Israel is deep in our hearts.  

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1881-1983), the founder of Reconstructionism, 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 the Reconstructionist movement includes congregations in Europe and South America as well, but the basic principles remain the same.  

Finally, 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. 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. For several decades now, the primary central organizations of the movement have advocated for a peace agreement that will protect Israel’s right to a secure existence, and that will also fulfill the legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people and guarantee the human and civil rights of all involved.  

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. Also, be sure to visit the Israel/Palestine section of our website, Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations

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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