The Reconstructionist movement is the result of Kaplan’s lifelong effort to create a Judaism that could bring the culture, community, and spirituality of the Jewish people forward and make it meaningful in a world of science, reason, and cultural diversity. “A people can live,” Kaplan said, “as long as it can reconstruct its life to meet changing conditions.” Striking a balance between respect for tradition, and the recognition that in the modern world not all aspects of tradition are relevant or meaningful, Reconstructionism seeks to do what Kaplan felt the Jewish people have done throughout our history — re-examine and re-invent tradition to make it vital in a particular time and place.
Kaplan described Judaism as the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people, and he encouraged American Jews to live fully in two civilizations — the Jewish and the American. In practice this means respecting tradition — but having a willingness to modify it when that makes sense. It means working to preserve the Jewish “religious civilization” and to enhance it by borrowing the best of modern American civilization, as Kaplan did when he celebrated the world’s first bat mitzvah at the SAJ in 1922.
Come to the SAJ and experience our ongoing reconstruction of Judaism to mesh our desire for traditional observance with our 21st-century needs.
We’re very pleased to send each new member a free copy of Exploring Judaism: A Reconstructionst Approach, by Rabbis Rebecca T. Alpert and Jacob J. Staub, published by the Reconstructionist Press.
To find out more about Reconstructionism, visit the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement.