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Reconstructing Judaism offers prayers, and positive action steps, following an 11-hour hostage standoff at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. 

The Reconstructionist movement is being well represented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Society of Jewish Ethics, taking place Jan. 6-9 over Zoom. In fact, in terms of the number of presenters —at least three — the movement will have a greater presence at this year’s virtual gathering than at any time since the first conference was held in 2003.

Rabbi Toba Spitzer explores the obstacles to prayer posed by stale language about God, and suggests new language that may ease our way in finding connection.

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. 

In 2001, RRC and Kolot, in partnership with Ma’yan, a Jewish feminist organization, uploaded the prayers scrawled on those papers to the newfangled Internet, creating an archive of Jewish writing that filled in the gaps of liturgies and practices that historically excluded women and LGBTQ+ Jews. Community members were invited to write and submit their own liturgies and rituals.

Almost two decades later, Ritualwell has not only become a library of prayers and poetry, but an online community center for Jews looking to hone their skills through writing workshops and classes.

For 20 years, Ritualwell has served as a pioneering resource for original Jewish liturgy and rituals, along the way nurturing an informal network of liturgists, poets and ritual innovators. Now, it has launched ADVOT @ Ritualwell, a formal online community offering unprecedented support and empowerment to writers who are imagining new ways to mark life’s most salient moments in a Jewish context.

Reconstructionism

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.

The first American bat mitzvah took place nearly a century ago, but its effects reverberate to this day. This podcast episode explores how the bat mitzvah helped pave the way for greater inclusion of women in public Jewish ritual and practice and laid the groundwork for further steps toward inclusion.

In her presentiation, Rooted and Relevant: 21st Century Jewish Life, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., explores how Reconstructionist Judaism can lead the way in the post-COVID world toward a religious revival that meets this century's new realities. 

Reconstructionism, Videos

In this enriching conversation, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D.  and Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, Ph.D. focus on the things that traditional and Reconstructionist Jews have in common, the challenges that social distancing is posing to community, and ways that Jewish practice can bolster resilience.  

Videos, Reconstructionism

If we are serious about building Jewish community, what could be more important than educating, nurturing and supporting Jewish leaders — rabbis — who will partner with us, teach us, learn with us, and both ground us in our tradition and inspire us to reach for new meaning?

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D. spoke at the Chautaqua Insitution about divine justice, about good and evil and about God's presence, plans, and love in the face of what seems to be unearned suffering. 

Theology, Reconstructionism

A Year With Mordecai Kaplan: Wisdom on the Weekly Torah Portion by Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D. is a deeply rooted and boldly relevant Torah commentary. For each week's reading, Rabbi Reuben weaves together traditional commentary, a nugget of Mordecai Kaplan's thought, and a vivid personal insight that illuminates the connection between the two. This powerful and accessible work invites us to engage with Torah, Kaplan and contemporary human experience in ways that are nourishing, optimistic and inspiring.

In a brief video, Seth Rosen talks about the role Reconstructing Judaism plays in supporting and connecting Reconstructionist communities, and amplifying our collective Reconstructionist voice. Seth Rosen is chair of the board of governors of Reconstructing Judaism.

On the opening night of the Reconstructing Judaism Convention in November of 2018, an extraordinary panel of rabbis reflected on a crucial question: how do we reconstruct Jewish communities in this time and place, to meet tomorrow's challenges? We've divided up the conversation into five sessions, and supplied material for reflection and discussion. We hope you'll find this conversation as thought-provoking as we did. 

Audience questions and answers at Reconstructing Jewish Communities panel

Rabbi Shira Stutman on Reconstructing Jewish Communities panel

Rabbi Michael Strassfeld on Reconstructing Jewish Communities panel

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann on Reconstructing Jewish Communities panel

Rabbi Sid Schwarz introducing Reconstructing Jewish Communities panel

Synagogues are a means, not an end in themselves. But thriving synagogues contribute to Judaism's goal: to create healthy individuals, thriving communities, flourishing Jewish life, interconnected human life and a sustainable planet.

Pluralism is dead. Long live pluralism.

Two November events loom as I write this column: the mid-term elections on November 6, and the first Reconstructionist movement-wide convention in a decade, a week later.  The first admittedly will have far more impact on the world than the latter, but they are linked in my mind for one important reason: movements matter.

Reconstructionism

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!

A history of the beginnings of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

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.

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 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. 

Judaism as an "evolving civilization" has been a Reconstructionist catchphrase for decades. But as board chair Seth Rosen writes, a deeper understanding of evolutionary biology gives fresh insight on the path ahead.

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.

The story of Temple Emmanuel's ongoing exploration of Reconstructionist liturgy, and the rich conversations the process has opened up.

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.

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 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.

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