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Reconstruction­ism

Reconstructionists approach Judaism — and life — with deep consideration of the past and a passion to relate it to the present. In a rapidly changing world, Reconstructionist communities share and create new ways of being Jewish to connect us to the divine and ensure our lives are filled with purpose.

  • We view Judaism as the evolving civilization of the Jewish people in an ongoing relationship with God. Our shared culture — rituals, traditions and practices — reflect over 3,000 years of that evolution, and we continue to share and shape it today.

  • We break down the walls that divide us — demonstrating what it means to be Jewish today — standing up for justice and creating a better world for all.

  • We experience — and discover — God through our daily acts of ritual, creative expression and humanity, which leads to individual spiritual fulfillment.

  • We have originated many of the core innovations within American Judaism and lead efforts to make our community even more forward-thinking, inclusive and relevant.

  • We are committed to democratic practice in Jewish life and believe that people hold the right — and obligation — to reconstruct Judaism in order for it to remain relevant in our lives.

Let’s Journey Together - Rebranded

Belonging

The idea of Jewish peoplehood is central to Reconstructionism. Jews share binding ties that cut across differing practice, beliefs, and national boundaries, binding us together through a common history and shared destiny.

Believing

Reconstructionists hold diverse ideas about God, but we share an emphasis on Godliness—those hopes, beliefs, and values within us that impel us to work for a better world, that give us strength and solace in times of need, that challenge us to grow, and that deepen our joy in moments of celebration. Recognizing that all descriptions of God are metaphor, our prayerbooks offer images of God that go far beyond "king of the universe."

Resources on Reconstructionism

"Where Was God?" - Lesson Plan On Natural Disasters and Parashat Noah

During disasters and their aftermaths, many people wonder about God’s role in their suffering. This lesson seeks to explore God’s role in tragedy from a Jewish Reconstructionist perspective. This lesson is intended for children ages 8-12.

Document

How Can Reconstructionists Pray?

How does a non-supernatural notion of God fit together with the practice of prayer? Rabbi Jacob Staub explores their intersection. 

Article
News and Blogs

Nothing Neutral About It: Inspired by Reconstructionist Judaism in Switzerland

Paul Piwnicki, a Polish-born, German-raised scientist and Jew-by-choice, credits Reconstructionist thought with helping him develop a personal theology and practice. Piwnicki’s story highlights the influence of Reconstructionist ideas and thinkers, even in countries lacking Reconstructionist congregations.

News

If God Is Good, Why Do Pain and Suffering Exist?

The question is an old and venerable one: If God is good, and God is all-knowing, and God is all-powerful, then why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? Rabbi Jacob Staub explores this longstanding question. 

Article
News and Blogs

Light Through The Cracks

Rabbi Deborah Waxman reflects on finding spiritual equilibrium in a time of shifting sands.

News

Liturgy and Prayer Leadership: Distance Learning Session

This distance learning conference call explores the dynamics of worship and the human impulse to pray, some of the deep structures of Jewish prayer services, and specifically Reconstructionist liturgy.

Spoken Audio

Kaplan and the Meaning of Ritual: Reconciling the Mind and the Heart

The author reflects on the way Mordecai Kaplan's philosophy  helped him see Jewish ritual as spiritually meaningful and, at the same time, intellectually honest.

Article

Author Interview: Guide to Jewish Practice

Interview with Rabbi David Teutsch, Ph.D., about the issues addressed in the new Guide to Jewish Practice

Article

Reconstructionism Explained

What is Reconstructionist Judaism? Its essence is contained in the phrase, “Judaism is the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people.” Unpacking this phrase, we find five simple keys to understanding the philosophy and beliefs of Reconstructionist Judaism.

Article

A Hasidic Lens on Parashat Bo

In this short talk, Rabbi Lester Bronstein brings 18th and 19th-century Hasidic thought into dialogue with contemporary Reconstructionist theology.

Spoken Audio

A New Approach to the Rules Shaping Shabbat Practice

Congregation B’nai Israel in Willimantic, Connecticut underwent a long communal Reconstructionist process to decide on congregational rules for Shabbat practice. This is the result.

Document

Yigdal: A Reconstructionist Examination

Yigdal, one of the most beloved of the medieval piyyutim (liturgical poems) summarizes the thirteen principles of the Jewish faith as formulated by Moses Maimonides (RaMBaM; late 12th century C.E.). Reconstructionists often proudly assert that when we pray with a Reconstructionist siddur, we feel that we can 'say what we mean and mean what we say,' because our liturgical language reflects Reconstructionist theology. How might a Reconstructionist interpret the words of Yigdal in this way?

Document

Exploration of God Beliefs: A Teen Program

This pilot program for Jewish teen education provides several activities for exploring and sharing beliefs about God. 

Document

A Child's Biography of Mordecai Kaplan

This short biography of Mordecai Kaplan is written for children from 5th to 9th grade.

Document

For The Sake Of The World

Rabbi Toba Spitzer grapples wtih the traditional notion of Jewish chosenness, arguing that our Torah is integral to the maintenance and perfection of this world—even as we acknowledge that other people’s teachings, other people’s truths, are also a path to redemption. It matters that  Judaism survives—not just for our own sake, but because it’s good for the world, and because we have unique work to do.

Sermon