Reconstructionism is a progressive movement within Judaism that attempts to fuse tradition with modernity—taking the practices and rituals of Judaism seriously, but also recognizing importance of equality and inclusiveness, and the realities of science. It dates back to the early 20th Century.
Its founder, Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, believed that Judaism is an “evolving civilization”—defined by beliefs, culture, language, art, and music, with members participating in an ongoing conversation about what Judaism should be. One motto of Reconstructionism is that “the past has a vote, not a veto.”
Reconstructionism emphasizes the spiritual aspects of Judaism, while allowing for different interpretations of God and godliness. It sees Judaism as something the Jewish people created, not something that was handed down to them by a supernatural being. Reconstructionism places particularly high value on compassion, social responsibility, and open-mindedness. In keeping with these priorities, it rejects the idea of the Jews as a “chosen people,” and teaches that no one faith is “correct.”
Reconstructionist Judaism is passionate Judaism. AARC members actively explore and debate Jewish beliefs and practices, balancing a respect for traditional Jewish teachings with the responsibility to interpret them in the light of our contemporary values. Our approach to tikkun olam includes social action, tzedakah, caring for the planet, and embracing pluralism. Within klal yisrael (the Jewish community) this commitment involves respecting a wide range of Jewish practices and beliefs.
For more information on Reconstructionism, try the following links:
- Reconstructionist Rabbinical College video, at the RRC website.
- “Perhaps You Belong in a Reconstructionist Community” at the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities website
- “FAQ’s on Reconstructionist Approaches to Jewish Ideas and Practices” at the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities website
- “Reconstructionism: The Most Misunderstood Movement in Judaism,” an essay by Stephen Carr Reuben
- “Reconstructionist Judaism,” at the BBC
- “What Is Reconstructionism?” Camp JRF