The Reconstructionist Movement
- Founded by Mordecai Kaplan in the 1920s
- First Jewish denomination formed in US
- Rabbinical school started in 1968
- Currently 109 synagogues and approximately 40,000 members
- Influence in American Judaism much greater than size
- Judaism is more than a religion; it is an evolving religious civilization.
- Judaism is the creation of the Jewish people themselves, not of God.
- Jewish law is not the sole decision maker: i.e. the past “has a vote, not a veto.”
- A belief in a non-supernatural deity: “God is the process that leads to salvation”
- The driving force behind Judaism is belonging rather than believing.
- Judaism and working for social justice are inseparable.
- The State of Israel is vital to Jewish cultural and spiritual survival.
Differences between Reform and Reconstructionism
- Reform Judaism values individual autonomy/ Reconstructionism values communal decision making.
- Reform Judaism is the largest of the major US denominations/ Reconstructionism is the smallest.
- Reform Judaism uses more traditional God language/ Reconstructionism uses a more traditional prayer style.
- Founded in Germany in the early 1800s
- The 1st Jewish response to Enlightenment
- Key figures:
- Abraham Geiger (1810-1874)
- Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900)
- Stephen S. Wise (1874-1949)
- The largest Jewish Denomination with 1.5 million members, 900 synagogues
- Belief in God as defined in the Shema.
- Belief that the Torah was written by human hands, in the language of its time, with divine inspiration.
- Belief in the rationality of humanity.
- Belief that the process of reinterpretation of the Torah to the language of today is ongoing, and that every Jew has a stake and a role in that restatement and extension.
- Belief in egalitarianism (equal treatment of the sexes) wherever possible.
- Belief in the strong moral and social action commitment inherent in the Torah and embodied in the concept of Tikkun Olam, rebuilding the world.