Though we count time Jewishly, by any consideration the secular year 2018 is an exciting year for the Reconstructionist movement.
- In January, we introduced a new identity for the movement’s central organization. This identity includes a name, Reconstructing Judaism, tagline and logo. As part of the identity investigation, we also crafted new vision and values statements to expand upon our mission statement.
- That same month, we also welcomed our newest affiliate, Emek Shalom of Ashland, Oregon. They join Sinagoga Ner Tamid Del Sud of Serrastretta, Italy as our second new affiliate this year.
- In March, we will lead an Israel trip. This is the first of an annual “guaranteed departure” for Reconstructionists wishing to travel together. I am very excited to participate in this inaugural trip.
- In June, Havaya Arts will open in Redlands, CA. This specialty camp, which will uniquely focus on camper-created art, will augment our wonderful Camp Havaya in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains and will make our extraordinary summer camp experience accessible to even more children.
- Later in the summer, we will roll out Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations, a new Reconstructionist thought project co-created with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association.
- And in November, we will gather together for the first time in nearly a decade for a convention. In this convening, we will sing together, learn together, pray together, repair the world together. Think of it as summer camp for adults. Think of it as an opportunity to nourish your souls and deepen your connection with the movement and with each other. Think about joining us in Philadelphia!
All of these events are sustained by ongoing activities, many of them happening through webinars and conversations. This year, Reconstructionists across the movement have participated in 25 learning networks, on topics ranging from the practical to theological to intellectual. The learning networks bring people from across the movement together to talk about “questions that can’t be Googled.” I learned a lot teaching my network on reconstructing Reconstructionism. In my travels, I am always excited to hear from folks who are participating in the networks. And we continue to generate extraordinary digital resources, including our award-winning website Ritualwell.org, podcasts, blogs, and the resources gathered together on ReconstructingJudaism.org.
We continue to work on governance structures to foster participation across the movement. The Israel Commission, jointly sponsored by Reconstructing Judaism and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, met for the first time in February. We are in the process of establishing a joint Tikkun Olam Commission. And a volunteer group is working to vitalize the Reconstructionist plenum, which includes representatives from every congregation. We are excited to convene all of these bodies in person at our upcoming Convention.
In the course of my travels, I have now visited or met with leadership from more than 60 affiliated congregations. While there is extraordinary diversity within our movement—no surprise, since this was one of the founding principles—I consistently find shared characteristics. Folks who belong to Reconstructionist congregations are interesting, curious in the world and in each other, and are willing to build the Jewish communities they want to live in. And I find that all of them—all of you—live out the values of the Reconstructionist movement:
We strive to realize these core values in every initiative and interaction:
Talmud Torah: Sacred Study
We delve into the wellsprings of our tradition, taking hold of Torah and challenging it to speak to our lives today.
We open ourselves to manifestations of the divine as transmitted in our tradition and experienced in our lives.
Kehillah: Diverse and Inclusive Community
We build diverse, participatory, joy-filled communities that embrace Jews, seekers and our loved ones. As we encounter difference, we strive to respect each other’s voices, listening deeply and engaging with hesed (open and generous hearts).
Ahavat Yisrael: Hope and Healing
We act to bring about the vision that the Jewish people, in Israel and throughout the world, will flourish along with our neighbors in peace and security. We seek healing for the rending of our communities and our hearts.
Tzedek: Justice and Sustainability
We fight for justice, sustenance and dignity for all peoples. We work toward sustainability for our world.
Hiddush: Evolving Judaism
Inspired by Torah, the wider world and the Jewish people in all our diversity, we co-create new ways of expressing Jewishness.
It is an honor and a blessing to build this movement with you.