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Encyclopedia > Reconstructionist Judaism

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Jews and Judaism This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

         

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Alternative · Renewal Several denominations have developed within Judaism, especially among Ashkenazi Jews living in anglophone countries. ... Rabbi, in Judaism, means ‘teacher’, or more literally ‘great one’. The word Rabbi is derived from the Hebrew root word , rav, which in biblical Hebrew means ‘great’ or ‘distinguished (in knowledge)’. Sephardic and Yemenite Jews pronounce this word ribbÄ«; the modern Israeli pronunciation rabbÄ« is derived from a recent (18th... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Conservative Judaism, (also known as Masorti Judaism in Israel predominantly), is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s. ... Reform Judaism can refer to (1) the largest denomination of American Jews and its sibling movements in other countries, (2) a branch of Judaism in the United Kingdom, and (3) the historical predecessor of the American movement that originated in 19th-century Germany. ... Liberal Judaism is a term used by some communities worldwide for what is otherwise also known as Reform Judaism or Progressive Judaism. ... Karaite Judaism or Karaism is a Jewish movement characterized by the sole reliance on the Tanakh as scripture, and the rejection of the Oral Law (the Mishnah and the Talmud) as halakha (Legally Binding, i. ... Alternative Judaism refers to several varieties of modern Judaism which fall outside the common Orthodox/Non-Orthodox (Reform/Conservative/Reconstructionist) classification of the four major streams of todays Judaism. ... The term Jewish Renewal refers to a set of practices within Judaism that attempt to reinvigorate Judaism with mystical, Hasidic, musical and meditative practices. ...

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Jewish feminism · Israeli politics Jewish political movements refer to the organized efforts of Jews to build their own political parties or otherwise represent their interest in politics outside of the Jewish community. ... Zionism is a political movement that supports a homeland for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, where Jewish nationhood is thought to have evolved somewhere between 1200 BCE and late Second Temple times,[1][2] and where Jewish kingdoms existed up to the 2nd century CE. Zionism is... Labor Zionism (or Socialist Zionism, Labour Zionism) is the traditional left wing of the Zionist ideology and was historically oriented towards the Jewish workers movement. ... Palestine (comprising todays Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza strip) and Transjordan (todays Kingdom of Jordan) were all part of the British Mandate of Palestine. ... Religious Zionism, or the Religious Zionist Movement, a branch of which is also called Mizrachi, is an ideology that claims to combine Zionism and Judaism, to base Zionism on the principles of Jewish religion and heritage. ... General Zionists were centrists within the Zionist movement. ... A Bundist demonstration, 1917 The General Jewish Labour Union of Lithuania, Poland and Russia, in Yiddish the Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeter Bund in Lite, Poyln un Rusland (אַלגמײַנער ײדישער אַרבײטערסבונד אין ליטאַ, פוילין און רוסלאַנד), generally called The Bund (בונד) or the Jewish Labor Bund, was a Jewish political party operating in several European countries between the 1890s and the... World Agudath Israel (The World Israeli Union) was established in the early twentieth century as the political arm of Ashkenazi Torah Judaism. ... Jewish feminism is a movement that seeks to improve the religious, legal, and social status of women within Judaism and to open up new opportunities for religious experience and leadership for Jewish women. ... Politics of Israel takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Israel is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. ...

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Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern American-based Jewish movement, based on the ideas of the late Mordecai Kaplan, that views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization. It originated as the radical left branch of Conservative Judaism before it splintered. There is substantial theological diversity within the movement. Halakha is not considered binding, but is treated as a valuable cultural remnant that should be upheld unless there is reason for the contrary. The movement emphasizes positive views towards modernism, and considers religious custom to be subservient to personal autonomy. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Several denominations have developed within Judaism, especially among Ashkenazi Jews living in anglophone countries. ... Rabbi Mordecai Menahem Kaplan (June 11, 1881- November 8, 1983) founded Reconstructionist Judaism. ... Conservative Judaism, (also known as Masorti Judaism in Israel predominantly), is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s. ... Halakha (Hebrew: הלכה; also transliterated as Halakhah, Halacha, Halakhot and Halachah with pronunciation emphasis on the third syllable, kha), is the collective corpus of Jewish religious law, including biblical law (the 613 mitzvot) and later talmudic and rabbinic law as well as customs and traditions. ... For Modernism in an American context, see American modernism. ...

Contents

Origin

Reconstructionism was developed by Rabbis Mordecai Kaplan (1881–1983) and Ira Eisenstein over a period of time spanning from the late 1920s to the 1940s. It made its greatest stride in becoming the fourth movement in North American Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform being the other three) with the founding of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1968. Rabbi, in Judaism, means ‘teacher’, or more literally ‘great one’. The word Rabbi is derived from the Hebrew root word , rav, which in biblical Hebrew means ‘great’ or ‘distinguished (in knowledge)’. Sephardic and Yemenite Jews pronounce this word ribbÄ«; the modern Israeli pronunciation rabbÄ« is derived from a recent (18th... Rabbi Mordecai Menahem Kaplan (June 11, 1881- November 8, 1983) founded Reconstructionist Judaism. ... 62. ... The 1920s is a decade that is sometimes referred to as the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties, usually applied to America. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Conservative Judaism, (also known as Masorti Judaism in Israel predominantly), is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s. ... Reform Judaism can refer to (1) the largest denomination of American Jews and its sibling movements in other countries, (2) a branch of Judaism in the United Kingdom, and (3) the historical predecessor of the American movement that originated in 19th-century Germany. ... The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC), located in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia, is the only seminary affiliated with Reconstructionist Judaism. ...


Reconstructionist Judaism is the first major movement of Judaism to originate in North America; the second is the Humanistic Judaism movement founded in 1963 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine. Humanistic Judaism is a movement within Judaism that emphasizes Jewish culture and history - rather than belief in God - as the sources of Jewish identity. ... Sherwin T. Wine (b. ...


Theology

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan believed that in light of advances in philosophy, science and history as they existed in the 1930s and 1940s, it would be impossible for modern Jews to continue to adhere to many of Judaism's traditional theological claims. Kaplan's naturalism theology has been seen as a variant of John Dewey's philosophy. Dewey's naturalism combined atheist beliefs with religious terminology in order to construct a religiously satisfying philosophy for those who had lost faith in traditional religion. Rabbi Mordecai Menahem Kaplan (June 11, 1881- November 8, 1983) founded Reconstructionist Judaism. ... The philosopher Socrates about to take poison hemlock as ordered by the court. ... Part of a scientific laboratory at the University of Cologne. ... History studies the past in human terms. ... Naturalism is any of several philosophical stances, typically those descended from materialism and pragmatism, that reject the validity of explanations or theories making use of entities inaccessible to natural science. ... At Wikiversity you can learn more and teach others about Theology at: The School of Theology Theology finds its scholars pursuing the understanding of and providing reasoned discourse of religion, spirituality and God or the gods. ... John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, whose thoughts and ideas have been greatly influential in the United States and around the world. ... “Atheist” redirects here. ...


In agreement with most classical medieval Jewish thinkers, Kaplan affirmed that God is not personal, and that all anthropomorphic descriptions of God are, at best, imperfect metaphors. Kaplan's theology went beyond this to claim that God is the sum of all natural processes that allow man to become self-fulfilled. Kaplan wrote that "to believe in God means to take for granted that it is man's destiny to rise above the brute and to eliminate all forms of violence and exploitation from human society." This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... An anthropomorphic character; a cat ascribed human characteristics. ...


Not all of Kaplan's writings on the subject were consistent; his position evolved somewhat over the years, and two distinct theologies can be discerned with a careful reading. The view more popularly associated with Kaplan is strict naturalism, à la Dewey, which has been criticized as using religious terminology to mask a non-theistic, if not outright atheistic, position. However, a second strand of Kaplanian theology exists, which makes clear that at times Kaplan believed that God has ontological reality, a real and absolute existence independent of human beliefs. In this latter theology, Kaplan still rejects classical forms of theism and any belief in miracles, but holds to a position that in some ways is neo-Platonic. Theism is the belief in the existence of one or more gods or deities. ... In philosophy, ontology (from the Greek , genitive : of being (part. ... Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is the modern term for a school of philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists. ...


Most "Classical" Reconstructionist Jews [those following Kaplan] reject traditional forms of theism, though this is by no means universal. Many are deists; a small number accept Kabbalistic views of God, or the concept of a personal God. For other uses, see Ceremonial deism. ... // Kabbalah (Hebrew: , Tiberian: , Qabbālāh, Israeli: Kabala) literally means receiving, and is sometimes transliterated as Cabala, Kabbala, Qabalah, or other permutations. ...


Though many of Kaplan's followers found his ideas about God compelling, Kaplan's theology, as he explicitly stated, does not represent the Reconstructionist understanding of theology. Theology is not the cornerstone of the Reconstructionist movement. Much more central is the idea that Judaism is a civilization, and that the Jewish people must take an active role in ensuring its future by participating in its ongoing evolution.


Consequently, a strain of Reconstructionism exists which is distinctly non-Kaplanian. In this view, Kaplan's assertions concerning belief and practice are largely rejected, while the tenets of an "evolving religious civilization" are supported. The basis for this approach is that Kaplan spoke for his generation: he also wrote that every generation would need to define itself and its' civilization for itself. In the thinking of these Reconstructionists, what Kaplan said concerning belief and practice is not applicable today. This approach may include a belief in a personal God, acceptance of the concept of "chosenness", a belief in some form of "resurrection" or continued existence of the dead, and the existence of an obligatory form of Halakhah. In the latter, in particular, there has developed a broader concept of "Halakhah" wherein concepts such as "eco-Kashrut" are incorporated.


Jewish law and tradition

As in Reform Judaism, Reconstructionist Judaism holds that contemporary Western secular morality has precedence over Jewish law and theology. It does not ask that its adherents hold to any particular beliefs, nor does it ask that Jewish law be accepted as normative. Unlike classical Reform Judaism, Reconstructionism holds that a person's default position should be to incorporate Jewish laws and tradition into their lives, unless they have a specific reason to do otherwise. The most important distinction between Reconstructionist Judaism and traditional Judaism is that Reconstructionism feels that all of halakha should be categorized as "folkways", and not as law. Reform Judaism can refer to (1) the largest denomination of American Jews and its sibling movements in other countries, (2) a branch of Judaism in the United Kingdom, and (3) the historical predecessor of the American movement that originated in 19th-century Germany. ... Halakha (Hebrew: הלכה; also transliterated as Halakhah, Halacha, Halakhot and Halachah with pronunciation emphasis on the third syllable, kha), is the collective corpus of Jewish religious law, including biblical law (the 613 mitzvot) and later talmudic and rabbinic law as well as customs and traditions. ... Halakha (Hebrew: הלכה; also transliterated as Halakhah, Halacha, Halakhot and Halachah with pronunciation emphasis on the third syllable, kha), is the collective corpus of Jewish religious law, including biblical law (the 613 mitzvot) and later talmudic and rabbinic law as well as customs and traditions. ... Folkways are the patterns of conventional behavior in a society, norms that apply to everyday matters. ... Lady Justice or Justitia is a personification of the moral force that underlies the legal system (particularly in Western art). ...


Reconstructionism promotes many traditional Jewish practices, while holding that contemporary Western secular morality has precedence over Jewish law. Thus, mitzvot (commandments) have been replaced with "folkways", non-binding customs that can be democratically accepted or rejected by the congregations. Folkways that are promoted include keeping Hebrew in the prayer service, studying Torah, daily prayer, wearing kipot (yarmulkas), tallisim and tefillin during prayer, and observance of the Jewish holidays. Main article: Mitzvah 613 Mitzvot or 613 Commandments (Hebrew: ‎ transliterated as Taryag mitzvot; TaRYaG is the acronym for the numeric value of 613) are a list of commandments from God in the Torah. ... Folkways are the patterns of conventional behavior in a society, norms that apply to everyday matters. ... “Hebrew” redirects here. ... Listed below are some Hebrew prayers and blessings that are part of Judaism that are recited by many Jews. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... A yarmulke (also yarmulka, yarmelke) (Yiddish יאַרמלקע yarmlke) or Kippah (Hebrew כִּפָּה kippāh, plural kippot) is a thin, usually slightly rounded cloth cap worn by Jews. ... The tallit (Modern Hebrew: ) or tallet(h) (Sephardi Hebrew: ), also called talles (Yiddish), is a prayer shawl cloak that is worn during the morning Jewish services (the Shacharit prayers) in Judaism, during the Torah service, and on Yom Kippur. ... Tefillin (Hebrew: תפלין), also called phylacteries, are two boxes containing Biblical verses and the leather straps attached to them which are used in traditional Jewish prayer. ... A Jewish holiday or Jewish Festival is a day or series of days observed by Jews as holy or secular commemorations of important events in Jewish history. ...


Principles of belief

In practice, Rabbi Kaplan's books, especially The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Religion and Judaism as a Civilization are de facto statements of principles. In 1986, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA) and the Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations and Havurot (FRCH) passed the official Platform on Reconstructionism (2 pages). It is not a mandatory statement of principles, but rather a consensus of current beliefs. [See the FRCH Newsletter, Sept. 1986, pages D, E.] Major points of the platform state that:

"Judaism is the result of natural human development. There is no such thing as divine intervention; Judaism is an evolving religious civilization; Zionism and aliyah (immigration to Israel) are encouraged; Reconstructionist Judaism is based on a democratic community where the laity can make decisions, not just rabbis; The Torah was not inspired by God; it only comes from the social and historical development of Jewish people; The classical view of God is rejected. God is redefined as the sum of natural powers or processes that allows mankind to gain self-fulfillment and moral improvement; The idea that God chose the Jewish people for any purpose, in any way, is "morally untenable", because anyone who has such beliefs "implies the superiority of the elect community and the rejection of others".

Most Reconstructionists do not believe in revelation (the idea that God can reveal His will to human beings). This is dismissed as supernaturalism. Kaplan posits that revelation "consists in disengaging from the traditional context those elements in it which answer permanent postulates of human nature, and in integrating them into our own ideology ... the rest may be relegated to archaeology." (The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Religion). Zionism is a political movement that supports a homeland for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, where Jewish nationhood is thought to have evolved somewhere between 1200 BCE and late Second Temple times,[1][2] and where Jewish kingdoms existed up to the 2nd century CE. Zionism is... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... Revelation is an uncovering or disclosure via communication from the divine of something that has been partially or wholly hidden or unknown. ... Look up Supernatural in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Revelation is an uncovering or disclosure via communication from the divine of something that has been partially or wholly hidden or unknown. ...


Many writers have criticized the movement's most widely held theology, religious naturalism. David Ray Griffin and Louis Jacobs have objected to the redefinitions of the terms "revelation" and "God" as being intellectually dishonest, and as being a form of "conversion by definition"; in their critique, these redefinitions take non-theistic beliefs and attach theistic terms to them. Religious Naturalism is a phrase coined by Ursual Goodenough, author of It is a system of thought that posits that the need for religious experience can be fulfilled within a purely scientific understanding of the universe. ... Louis Jacobs (born 1920) is a Masorti rabbi in England, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the UK, best known as the central focus of events in the early 1960s that came to be known as The Jacobs Affair. Jacobs was ordained as an...


Similar critiques have been put forth by Rabbis Neil Gillman (Sacred Fragments, p.200); Milton Steinberg (Milton Steinberg: Portrait of a Rabbi) by Simon Noveck, Ktav, 1978, p.259-260; and Michael Samuels (The Lord is My Shepherd: The Theology of a Caring God 1996). Neil Gillman is an American rabbi, an adherent of Conservative Judaism, and a philosopher. ...


Jewish identity

Reconstructionist Judaism allows its rabbis to determine their own policy regarding officiation at intermarriages; about two-thirds will do so. It accepts patrilineal descent as well as matrilineal, i.e., children of one Jewish parent, of either sex, are considered Jewish if raised as Jews, by some congregations. This is less restrictive than the traditional standard that only considers children with Jewish mothers to be considered Jewish, regardless of how they were raised. Reconstructionist Jews may be less restrictive in this sense because of the emphasis on personal morality rather than stated, necessary rituals; in other words, it's more important to Reconstructionist Judaism to be a good person than to pray daily, because the prayers are only meant to enhance your goodness as a person.[citation needed] Rabbi, in Judaism, means ‘teacher’, or more literally ‘great one’. The word Rabbi is derived from the Hebrew root word , rav, which in biblical Hebrew means ‘great’ or ‘distinguished (in knowledge)’. Sephardic and Yemenite Jews pronounce this word ribbī; the modern Israeli pronunciation rabbī is derived from a recent (18th... Patrilineality (a. ... Matrilineality is a system in which one belongs to ones mothers lineage. ...


The role of non-Jews in Reconstructionist congregations is a matter of ongoing debate. Practices vary widely between synagogues. Most congregations strive to strike a balance between inclusivity and integrity of boundaries. The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (JRF) has issued a non-binding statement attempting to delineate the process by which congregations set policy on these issues, and sets forth sample recommendations. These issues are ultimately decided by local lay leadership. [Can Halakha Live? by Rabbi Edward Feld, The Reconstructionist, Vol.59(2), Fall 1994, p.64-72]


Role of men and women

Reconstructionist Judaism is egalitarian with respect to gender roles. Egalitarianism is the moral doctrine that equality ought to prevail among some group along some dimension. ... A bagpiper in military uniform. ...


Relation to other Jewish movements

Originally an offshoot of Conservative Judaism/Masorti Judaism, Reconstructionism retains warm relations with both the Conservative/Masorti movement and Reform Judaism. Orthodox Judaism, however, considers Reconstructionism and all non-Orthodox movements to be incompatible with its beliefs, and it does not recognise those movements as Jewish.[1] Conservative Judaism, (also known as Masorti Judaism in Israel predominantly), is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s. ... Masorti means traditional in Hebrew. ... Reform Judaism can refer to (1) the largest denomination of American Jews and its sibling movements in other countries, (2) a branch of Judaism in the United Kingdom, and (3) the historical predecessor of the American movement that originated in 19th-century Germany. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...


References

  • Platform on Reconstructionism, FRCH Newsletter, Sept. 1986, pages D, E
  • Exploring Judaism: A Reconstructionist Approach, Rebecca T. Alpert and Jacob J. Staub, The Reconstructionist Press, 1988
  • David Griffin's article in Jewish Theology and Process Thought, Ed. Sandra B. Lubarsky and David Ray Griffin, State University of New York Press, 1996
  • Louis Jacobs God, Torah, Israel: Traditionalism Without Fundamentalism Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati, 1990;
  • Judaism As a Civilization Mordecai Kaplan, The Jewish Publications Society, 1994
  • Mordecai Kaplan "The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Religion", 1962

External links

  • Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
  • Is Reconstructionist Judaism For You?
  • Role of gentiles in Reconstructionist synagogues
  • Reconstructionist reading list
  • http://www.shamash.org/lists/scj-faq/HTML/faq/02-06.html
  • Role of women in liberal Judaism
  • The Reconstructionist, Fall 1994 (large pdf) includes Ed Feld article mentioned above.
  • Review Published in The Reconstructionist of Visions of Jewish Education by Seymour Fox. It includes a Reconstructionist vision for Jewish education at the end of the article.


A new form of Judaism -Doesent keep all of the laws of Shabbat -Hate to say lesser form of Judaism


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