Reconstructionism "On One Foot"
"Reconstructionist Judaism is a progressive contemporary approach to Jewish life which integrates a deep respect for traditional Judaism with the insights and ideas of contemporary social, intellectual and spiritual life."
— From the article, Is Reconstructionist Judaism For You?
What is Reconstructionist Judaism?
The movement was inspired by the writings of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan who proposed that we should think of Judaism as a civilization — a culture with a history, a land, a religion, a literature, and arts.
Jewish civilization/culture has been periodically reconstructed when the people found themselves in a changed world. In ancient times it served the needs of a settled agricultural society. During the Babylonian exile, a new understanding of the Jewish people's relationship to Godevolved that sustained them through exile and return. After the destruction of the second temple, synagogue worship and the role of the rabbis was created to replace temple sacrifice and the priesthood. Today, Reconstructionist Judaism continues to evolve to meet the challenges we face today.
As Reconstructionists, we understand the Torah to be a history of the Jewish people's search for the divine rather than a document dictated by a supernatural being. It contains much wisdom, acquired over close to a millenium, but it also represents a variety of views developed at different stages in our history, not all of which we accept today. We try to understand the contexts in which different parts of the Torah were written, and, wherever possible, preserve and use our ancient traditions. When we find something that is simply not compatible with our current understanding of the world and human relations, we modify it appropriately. When we alter tradition, we want to do it from a broad base of knowledge.
Rabbi Kaplan's ideas and teaching have shaped the evolution of progressive Judaism, influencing contemporary thinkers in the Reform and Conservative movements as well as within Reconstructionism.
For more information about Reconstructionism and related Jewish topics, see Reconstructionist and Judaic Links