Inclusion | Reconstructing Judaism
Inclusion

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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.

Rabbi Jacob Staub reflects on the difference between welcoming others and seeing through their eyes.

In valuing parenthood, Rabbi Jacob Staub argues, we must not devalue the experiences and wisdom of those who are not parents. 

Wine is the traditional vehicle for prominent Jewish ritual moments. At the same, Jewish communities contain people who struggle with alcohol.  Rabbi Richard Hirsh outlines simple steps to recognize and support all in a community who wish to participate. 

Lesser describes the evolution of an LGBT synagogue and dissects the meaning of inclusive community.

In a piece for eJewishphilanthropy.com, Rabbi Isaac Saposnik and Rabbi Jacob Lieberman liken the maintaining of an inclusive and safe camp environment to a balance beam routine: Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but you get back on the beam and move forward.

Small version of welcoming poster for synagogues

Large version of welcoming poster for synagogues

We have created a poster that congregations can use to send a clear message of inclusion and welcome.

Together we will explore how life cycle rituals can provide opportunities to honor and express a wide range of Jewish identities and experiences.

Inclusion, Ritual and Liturgy

All branches of the Reconstructionist movement have adapted resolutions affirming the full equality of transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals.

LGBTQ Inclusion, Inclusion

Jennifer Janes may live in the same city she had as a teen, but she’s traveled a long road to find her spiritual home in Reconstructionist Judaism and Congregation Beth Am in San Antonio, Texas.

To truly live justly, we need to move out of our comfort zones and embrace unfamiliar ideas and habits of mind. 

Inclusion, Pesakh, Pursuing Justice
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.

At times, we have the opportunity and challenge of embracing strangers when we meet them face-to-face. These encounters can be deeply unsettling at first. But as barriers of difference fall, they can be deeply meaningful, even transformational. 

Inclusion

Further resources on embracing the stranger face-to-face

Inclusion

The lines of "inside" and "outside" are not always clear, as a second-generation American and Jewish convert attests. 

Peoplehood, Inclusion

Embracing the stranger is not just an individual journey—it's a communal calling. We are commanded as Jews to "Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 10:19) In the face of fear, hostility, or simple disregard toward those who are different, our challenge is to lift up our common humanity, and our inherent dignity and worth as beings b'tzelem Elohim, reflecting the divine image.

Peoplehood, Inclusion

Further resources on embracing the stranger within.

Inclusion, Peoplehood

Embracing the stranger is an endeavor that requires not just outward action, but internal effort on many levels. Both as individuals and communities, real inclusion involves rethinking of boundaries.

Inclusion, Peoplehood

Six Reconstructionist rabbis were asked to write on the subject "Welcoming the Stranger" for their colleagues, in the RRA Connections newsletters. We've collected their contributions below. 

Inclusion

Rabbi Shelly Barnathan, the 2017 Launch Grant recipient, is busy creating a co-constructed network of baby boomers and empty nesters, a commonly-overlooked generation within the Jewish community. Her project, Or Zarua, features "holy conversations" over coffee and musical Shabbat dinners.

Older Adult, Inclusion

Our first session of Reconstructing for Tomorrow, led by Rabbi Deborah Waxman, began the difficult and exciting task of grappling with the history of the Reconstructionist movement and the questions of Jewish peoplehood in the future.

In our second session with author Abigail Pogrebin, we talked about "embracing the other" in our holiday celebrations and reinterpreting the Hannukah story to embrace this idea.

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 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.

In our third session with author Abigail Pogrebin, we talked about taking an "Elijah moment" at our Passover celebrations: enacting change in the world in an effective and fulfilling way.

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.

Reflections on the recent Jewish Social Justice roundtable meeting on racial justice and equity.

Pursuing Justice, Inclusion

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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