Peoplehood | Reconstructing Judaism
Peoplehood

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A resource for exploring values and commitments around Israel, seen through the lens of the phrase "Next year in Jerusalem" at the close of the Passover seder

Israel, Pesakh, Peoplehood

In 2004, the JRF Israel Policies Task Force issued a report calling for a recommitment to Zionism. This excerpt from that report explores Kaplan's definition of "New Zionism." It also discusses how a communal covenant could strengthen the relationships among the Reconstructionist community, Israel and the broader Jewish community.

Israel, Peoplehood

Waxman asks if it is “possible to believe that all people are created equal and to believe that Judaism is superior to other religions.”

Glanzberg-Krainin explores how Reconstructionist Judaism draws on diverse traditions to create a relevant contemporary Judaism.

Peoplehood, Reconstructionism

Weiner ponders the "authenticity" of past generations and looks to Reconstructionist community as the place where the various strains of Judaism’s past can come together.

Reconstructionism, Peoplehood
D'VAR TORAH
Exodus 19:1-20:23

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

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

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? 

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.

This resource on Jewish peoplehood provides tools for Jewish educators, including early childhood educators, to reflect and teach on issues of Jewish identity and peoplehood.

This evaluation tool provides a rubric for assessing the contemporary state of Jewish education

Peoplehood, Assessment, Educators

This short biography of Mordecai Kaplan is written for children from 5th to 9th grade.

This pilot program for Jewish teen education provides several activities for exploring and sharing beliefs about God. 

This short article reflects on the challenges and opportunities presented by digital technology in Reconstructionist education. 

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

The story of Ruth, read on Shavuot, provides a powerful model for welcoming newcomers to the Jewish people. 

Shavuot, Peoplehood

Should children receiving conflicting, non-Jewish, religious education be allowed to enroll in a synagogue school? This question is at core about the differences between how the individual is seen by the community, his status, and how the individual sees herself, her identity

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

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."

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 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.

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

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

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.

The small Italian village of Serrastretta has a hidden past: among its population are many families of anusim, hidden Jews whose ancestors were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition. Now, many locals are exploring their roots, thanks to new Reconstructionist affiliate Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud. While many are satisfied to understand the origins of mysterious family customs and learn about their ancestral heritage, some choose to fully embrace Judaism through conversion. Through a unique document of “Reclaiming Jewish Status”, this community has reconstructed standard conversion as a reclaiming of stolen Jewishness.

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.

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.

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!

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