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Ethics and Values

Often described as a way of life, Judaism must shape the everyday conduct of Jews to deserve that description. While most modern Jews do not see Jewish law (halakha) as binding, Jewish approaches to moral thought and action deserve attention, study, and engagement.

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In an essay that appeared in Philadelphia's Jewish Exponent, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., makes the case that Reconstructionist Judaism matters now more than ever.

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Looking for ways your community can get involved in immigration issues, directly assist a family, or advocate for systematic change? This resource offer a number of concrete steps your community can take.

In its annual content, the Center for Jewish Ethics has recognized two essays that together demonstrate the vitality and breadth of the field of Jewish ethics: one on sexual ethics, the other on Kant's influence on modern Jewish ethical thought.

The Center for Jewish Ethics' conference in March 2019  highlighted voices from across the Jewish world, yet the proceedings embodied the Reconstructionist approach to conversation. Presenters and attendees examined issues from many sides, exchanging perspectives with deep respect for one another and Jewish tradition.

Ethics and Values

What are the key ethical questions facing Jews and Jewish communities today? How can scholars, rabbis and communal leaders discuss ethics in a way that impacts how people behave in the real world?  “Jewish Values & the Ethical Now: A Conference in Celebration of Rabbi David A. Teutsch, Ph.D” will explore these questions on March 10-11, 2019 in Philadelphia.

Emet Tauber, a rabbinical student facing terminal illness, devoted his last days to supporting causes and institutions that he values — including affordable and accessible rabbinic education. 

In 5778, the hashtags #TimesUp #MeToo #GamAni sparked a broad communal conversation about abuses of power on the part of individuals and institutions, within and beyond the Jewish community. The year brought revelations of misconduct among celebrities and government officials, and in Jewish schools, organizations, and synagogues. Now, powerful people who abuse their power are being held accountable, and this is a development that is welcome and long overdue. That doesn’t mean it is easy.

Reconstructing Judaism has just rolled out Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations with the intention of hosting difficult, groundbreaking conversations that are nevertheless mutually respectful and supportive. We invite you to visit Evolve and to join the conversations!

As we continue to develop new ways to build community across time and distance, we must also continue to find ways to “be there” for one another.

The RRA recently became a partner of the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC). In the last two weeks the PPC has coordinated rallies and acts of civil disobedience in over 30 state capitals, including the participation of over 15 RRA members. 

Belonging connects us to something larger than our own individual experience. I belong to the Jewish people because claiming this connection enters me into a millennia-old conversation and joins me into community both vertical—all those who came before me and all those who follow—and horizontal—the Jews of today, in all our diversity.

With a welcoming ethos and a drive to break down barriers, Reconstructionist congregations and havurot have been part of a revolution that’s taken place in the public awareness of the importance of disability inclusion and related services.

The leadership of Reconstructing Judaism and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association condemn with horror the travesty that has become our immigration system under the administration of U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

People across Philadelphia gathered together for Fair Trade Shabbat Dinner, a night of Jewish learning, locally-sourced food, and provoking conversation about Jewish values.

This manual will help you use all three volumes of A Guide to Jewish Practice to boost your adult and teen education programming in meaningful ways.

Why belong to the Jewish people? Why belong to a synagogue? Why belong to the Reconstructionist movement? These are some of the most important questions that I am asked and that I, along with all of us at Reconstructing Judaism, strive to answer powerfully and convincingly.

Though we count time Jewishly, by any consideration the secular year 2018 is an exciting year for the Reconstructionist movement.

Serving Jewish prisoners in state prison, rabbinic students find new perspectives on freedom and responsibility.

 In our final conversation with Rabbi Deborah Waxman, we looked at new Reconstructionist approaches to God and the language of the divine.

Our third Reconstructing for Tomorrow conversation with Rabbi Deborah Waxman focused on unpacking the ideological and practical differences between the Reconstructionist and Reform movements.

RRC faculty address sexual harassment in Jewish organizations, including harassment of women rabbis. 

Ethics and Values

Reconstructionist leaders call for institutional reform and lasting change in the wake of the #metoo campaign.

In our second Network for Network Builders session, we discussed the values that drive our work and identified strategies for weaving our values into building networks.

In our second session of Reconstructing for Tomorrow, we were led in a discussion about the spiritual and tangible ways we can integrate ecological values into our Jewish lives.

In our followup to the 2016-17 Innovators Incubator, our new Rev Your Engines session focused on the development of a close-knit, supportive network of participants facing similar challenges in their start-up endeavors. From teen focused programming to a havurot for baby boomers, we looked into the support and development resources available to these community leaders.

Our Network for Network Builders discussion, led by Cyd Weissman, welcomed us into a world of thinkers and leaders guided by a "culture of generosity." By taking time to share success stories, open up challenging discussions, and provide mentorship, we learned about building a network of trust among colleagues near and far.

In our second Fair Trade session, we looked into an issue a little less than sweet: child labor in the chocolate industry. Together, we discussed the ways that synagogue communities can take steps to invest in buying ethically-sourced chocolate for their holiday celebrations. 

Ethics and Values

In our first Fair Trade session with Ilana Schatz, we dove into a discussion about the standards of Fair Trade certification and the values behind it.

Ethics and Values

In a piece for the Forward, Reconstructionist rabbi Michael Strassfeld argues that posting inflammatory comments on social media isn't just tacky. It's a sin. 

Ethics and Values, Yom Kippur

Ariana Katz, the inaugural recipient of the 2016 Launch Grant, created "Kaddish," a podcast about illness, death, and mourning in Jewish ritual traditions. Her work seeks to build an online community that "holds space at the intersection of life and death."

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities are strongly opposed to President Trump’s recently announced decision to end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals or DACA and put the lives of over 800,000 young people in America at risk.

Ethics and Values
D'VAR TORAH
Genesis 21:1 – 22:24

To love the stranger represents an outrageous leap out of the typical moral economy, in which we do kindnesses and expect to be repaid in kind. In loving the stranger, we transcend self-interest.

This alternative Amidah was used during mincha prayers by members of the Reconstructionist Rabbinic Association outside of an Immigration Processing Center in order to call attention to the plight of immigrants and underscore the importance of the Jewish obligation to welcome the stranger. 

Rabbi Brant Rosen's poem responds to Psalm 79, challenging us to welcome the stranger even, and especially, in uncomfortable ways.

D'VAR TORAH
Genesis 12:1-17:27

This provocative Rosh Hashanah sermon draws parallels between Hagar, Sarah's mistreated servant, and today's immigrant workers.

This excerpt from The Guide to Jewish Practice delves into the holiday's meaning and message. 

D'VAR TORAH
Exodus 19:1-20:23

Rabbi David Gedzelman explores the Book of Ruth with an eye toward structures of covenantal openness, societal protection and compassion towards the other.

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