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Reconstructionism as an Approach

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Deeply Rooted, Boldly Relevant

Reconstructionists approach Judaism—and life—with deep consideration of the past and a passion to relate it to the present. Applying our understanding of Judaism as the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people, we draw from the rich wellsprings of Jewish tradition to face the challenges and opportunities of the current moment.

The name “Reconstructionism” was adopted by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan in the 1920s to communicate that Judaism itself—its structure, beliefs, rituals, customs and culture—must be “reconstructed” in each generation to renew its relevance and ensure its sustainability. We are proud to carry on Kaplan’s legacy of grounded, purposeful and brave innovation.

group of people wearing tallits

Embracing Diversity

We believe that an embrace of diversity—in ways of being Jewish, in religious practice, in who is centered in community life and leadership—is both a strength and a requirement. Following Kaplan’s lead, we continually work to expand the boundaries of the Jewish community without watering down what it means to be Jewish.

We seek to engage the glorious range of Jews and the people who love us as community members and conversation partners. We believe we find our humanity most powerfully in communal conversation. We are clear that the Jewish community must make space for all individuals in our fullness, and that in doing so, the community itself will be continually remade.

Core Commitments

A Reconstructionist approach is infused by commitments to:

  • Learning from the vast storehouse of Jewish wisdom and practice while understanding that the past has a vote, not a veto;
  • Openness to insights from contemporary society, especially democratic practice and commitments to advancing equity;
  • Thinking, dreaming and making decisions in conversation with community—the community gathered around us today, the voices of our ancestors, and, as best as we can anticipate, the needs and aspirations of the communities of tomorrow;
  • Feeling empowered to reconstruct and co-create rituals, practices, texts and more in order to build the Jewish community we want to live in

Meaning and Purpose in Jewish Life

Reconstructionism helps individuals find and create their own pathways toward meaningful Jewish living. Reconstructionist communities share and create new ways of being Jewish to connect us to the divine and to each other, and to ensure our lives are filled with purpose.

To learn more about the life and teachings of Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism, visit.www.kaplancenter.org.

The Reconstructionist Network