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.
For Reconstructionists, Judaism is more than Jewish religion; Judaism is the entire cultural legacy of the Jewish people. Religion is central; Jewish spiritual insights and religious teachings give meaning and purpose to our lives. Yet our creativity as expressed through art, music and drama,
languages and literature, and our relationship with the land of Israel itself are also integral parts of Jewish culture. Each of these aspects provides a gateway into the Jewish experience that can enrich and inspire us.
Reconstructionist communities are characterized by their respect for such core values as democratic process, pluralism, and accessibility. In this way, they create participatory, inclusive, egalitarian communities committed to exploring Jewish life with dedication, warmth and enthusiasm.
Torah” means “teaching.” In Jewish tradition, Talmud Torah, the study of Torah, is a life-long obligation and opportunity.Reconstructionists are committed to a serious engagement with the texts and teachings, as well as the art, literature and music of tradition. But we are not passive recipients; we are instead challenged to enter the conversation and to hear voices other than our own, but to add our own voices as well.
Reconstructionist Judaism is respectful of traditional Jewish observances but also open to new interpretations and forms of religious expression. As Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881-1983), the founder of Reconstructionism, taught, tradition has “a vote, but not a veto.” Reconstructionists share a commitment to making Judaism their own by finding in it joy, meaning, and ideas they can believe.
Reconstructionism emphasizes the importance of religious community in shaping individual patterns of observance. Belonging to a community leads us to take the patterns of observance within that community seriously; our choices do not exist independently, but are made in response to our community as part of our practicing in it. Reconstructionism thus retains a warmly traditional (and fully egalitarian) approach to Jewish religious practice.
Reconstructionist communities emphasize acts of social justice alongside prayer and study as an essential part of their spiritual practice. Reconstructionist Judaism affirms that religion can and must be a powerful force for promoting communal discussion about ethics and values. The Torah tradition itself is a deep and wide resource for this project. Yet we know that generations of Jews have sharpened and distilled the ethical insights of Judaism as a result of their encounter with other cultures and traditions, and so it is in our time.