Reconstructionism | Page 2 | Reconstructing Judaism

LEARN

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.

 

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

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

Changing the Equation: A Reflection On God

Rabbi Toba Spitzer offers a reconceptualization of our image of God through the vehicle of process theology.

Sermon

"Peoplehood" Reconsidered

Reconstructionism has long held the notion of Jewish Peoplehood as a central organizing principle. But does it mean the same thing that it used to? How can “Peoplehood” itself be reconstructed to remain relevant today? 

Article

Why We Need Process Theology

What is “process theology”? Rabbi Toba Spitzer argues that it offers ways to think and talk about God that make sense in a modern scientific framework, that resonate with Jewish texts and traditions, and that promote wise and ethical behavior.

Document

Jewish Peoplehood: Philosophies of Jewish Engagement in the 21st Century

What is Jewish peoplehood, and how is it relevant today? Rabbi James Greene assembled this collection of texts to explore these questions.

Article

What is Reconstructionist Judaism? The CORE Answer

Rabbi Doug Heifetz shares a memorable framework for understanding Reconstructionism.

Article

Shavuot Theology

How are we to understand the traditional claim that the Torah is divinely revealed? And what exactly is the Torah that was revealed? Rabbi Jacob Staub examines Reconstructionist theology through the lens of the holiday of Shavuot. This article is excerpted from the Guide to Jewish Practice. 

Article

Introduction

Summary article introducing Cutting Edge Judaism dialogue

Article

What Makes a Reconstructionist Congregation Different?

In this talk, Rabbi Jacob Staub describes what makes Reconstructionist communities unique. Recorded in November 2014 at Congregation Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades, California. A full transcript is included. 

Spoken Audio

Jewish Peoplehood: Educational Resources

Rabbi Jeffrey Schein has created this suite of educational resources on Jewish peoplehood, under the auspices of the Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood.

Video