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News

Overhead view of an Or Zarua Purim party, with most people wearing costumes.

Or Zarua Takes a Collective Approach to Synagogue Life

Back in 2017, Rabbi Shelley Barnathan met with 100 prospective members individually over coffee to ask some central questions about what they wanted in a new Reconstructionist synagogue in Philadelphia’s western suburbs.

She had just completed rabbinical school after leaving a 32-year career as a language arts teacher. A child of Holocaust survivors, she wanted to realize a childhood dream that wasn’t accessible in her Modern Orthodox community.

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Rabbi Lily Solochek poses in front of a tree.

Rabbi Lily Solochek: Taking K-12 Reconstructionist Education to the Next Level

Rabbi Lily Solochek is a key part of a bold new endeavor and has been tasked with taking Reconstructionist education to the next level. They have been named director of Reconstructing Judaism’s new Wenger-Markowitz Family Education Initiative. Funded with a $1 million gift from Reconstructionist leaders Jonathan Markowitz and Ruth Wenger, the initiative will bolster K-12 educational offerings across the Reconstructionist movement.

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Ritualwell’s ADVOT Creates Poetic Community

Before Ritualwell was a website containing more than 2,200 liturgy and rituals crowdsourced by Jews, it was an idea of where to put dozens of scraps of paper in the drawers of offices in the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Kolot: Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies in Wyncote.

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The “Next Normal” and Our Movement

The last sixteen months of the pandemic have highlighted the necessity of community as something both poignant and urgent.  With many of us physically removed from our “normal” sites of gathering (i.e., workplaces, schools, cultural venues, “third spaces,” places of worship), we’ve learned to cultivate relationships online, to use digital tools to create new places of meeting and connection, and to experiment with alternative and even more accessible forms of engagement.  Despite the very real challenges of long-term isolation and Zoom fatigue, we’ve found new ways to experience community, to address pragmatic needs, and to fill our souls.

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Dreaming Up High Holy Days

Rabbi Joshua Lesser (RRC ‘99) has had a front seat to one of the most joyful spots of our tragic time. With a group of Jewish leaders from different movements and perspectives, he helped create a Facebook group called Dreaming Up High Holy Days 2020.

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Synagogues and Congregants: A COVID Covenant

When COVID-19 hit, synagogues closed their physical doors, pivoting their presence online.  Responding to the tensions and conflicts arising from this challenge, Rabbi Nathan Weiner (RRC ‘16) offers a covenental approach guiding synagogue leaders and congregants to navigate these difficult times with integrity, understanding, and generosity of spirit. 

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Cross-Movement Resource Guide Published on Re-Opening Synagogue Buildings

This past month, a working group made up of staff at the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements collaborated, with major support from the Secure Community Network, on putting together a “Guide to the Considerations about Re-Opening Synagogue Buildings.” The document offers synagogues some guidance and suggested methodical steps for decision-making and implementation of re-opening plans.

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The Reconstructionist Network