You Shall Pursue

January 21, 2013

Reconstructionism Part 7: You Might be a Reconstructionist if…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — marleyweiner @ 2:20 pm

I know a lot of “closet Reconstructionist Jews.” People who publicly identify as Conservative, or Reform, or non-denominational, or post-denominational, and yet their world outlook is more similar to Reconstructionism than to the movement that they are living their lives in. Heck, when I was at JTS for college, I was VERY invested in the Reform movement, but my friends used to tease me that I was the Reconstructionist of the group. And now here I am.

Kaplan wouldn’t have had a problem with this; he wasn’t actually a Reconstructionist either (exaggerated for impact). He spent the majority of his professional life at JTS, his first synagogue was Orthodox, and while RRC opened during his lifetime, he was never on its faculty (athough he did lecture there on and off). Kaplan saw Reconstructionism as a Jewish philosophy that could be applied to the other movements of his day, so that there could be “Reconstructionist Conservative Jews” or “Reconstructionist Reform Jews” or “Reconstructionist Orthodox Jews.” His vision worked out in some ways, and not in others.

While Reconstructionism now has its own seminary, its own affiliation network for synagogues, its own publications, and many of the trappings of a movement, there is still an acceptance within the movement of diversity of identification. I came into my rabbinical school interview as a “post-denominationalist,” which I still am in a lot of ways. The admissions board let me in, and what’s more important, they were comfortable with my liturgical, practical, and political disagreements with the movement and treated my desire to stay a little bit outside the boundaries with nothing but respect.

In other words, if you think this whole “Reconstructionism” thing sounds interesting, there’s no reason that you can’t identify as a little bit Reconstructionist! You might be a Reconstructionist if:

  • You believe that Judaism has been changing ever since people started calling themselves Jews. You think that this is a good thing.
  • You want to talk about how Judaism is problematic, but you don’t want to abandon Judaism all together.
  • You believe in a God who acts through the natural world, and probably doesn’t cause supernatural miracles.
  • You care about Jewish law, but aren’t necessarily interested in having every aspect of your life dictated by halakhah.
  • You are invested both in your Jewish community and in being an informed and participatory American.
  • You are comfortable with liturgical changes, especially liturgical changes that mess around with God and chosen-ness language.
  • You care about social justice. A lot.
  • You enjoy thinking things through (and often in endless discussion loops that drive your friends and loved ones crazy).
  • You want to be in a Jewish community where the laity is expected to fuel major aspects of the decision making.

This list is not comprehensive, and you do not need to identify with every aspect in order to call yourself Reconstructionist. However, it is my personal summation of the major characteristics that give Reconstructionsim its special flavor.

For more information on Reconstructionism, the movement offers an online course that is designed to teach about the history and thought of the movement. And feel free to ask questions!

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: