What is a Reconstructionist Jew?
As Reconstructionist Jews we are willing to question conventional answers and keep open minds. We are Jews who take the Jewish tradition seriously and live Jewish lives We believe that just as Jewish civilization has adapted to new circumstances throughout Jewish history, so must it adapt to modern North American society. We Reconstructionists tend to conduct more intimate worship services in which everyone is involved. Being a Reconstructionist indicates active participation – the reconstruction of Jewish life and tradition to integrate it with the particular lifestyle that each of us chooses. As members of the Reconstructionist community we commit ourselves to ongoing study, to discussions of issues and to intelligent decision-making. As Reconstructionists we focus on mitzvot, social action and social equality.
Who we are
We are a diverse community actively involved in social action, education and worship that depends on congregation-wide participation for our existence.
As a Reconstructionist community we recognize the spiritual needs of all of our members. Through intimate, participatory services we try to find ways to sense and manifest the divine presence in our lives. Our prayer book makes prayers accessible through transliteration and a balance of Hebrew and English. The service can be enhanced by the accompaniment of instrumental music.
We strive to meet the educational needs of all of our congregants through a wide range of programs such as continuing education and Torah study for adults, and religious school for children from kindergarten through high school. By utilizing a curriculum based on prayer book fluency, Jewish values and beliefs, rituals and practices, our goal is to promote quality Jewish memories that will inspire our young people to continue their Jewish education.
We believe as Reconstructionists that as we serve our fellow human beings we serve as partners with God in the spirit of mitzvah. At Kol Emet our congregants have historically been involved in social and political action. We expect all of our members to express their individual commitment to social and political involvement regardless of their religious affiliation. Through Tikun Olam, we accept responsibility for the well being of the greater world of which we are part by performing such acts as assisting the elderly and the less fortunate.
Women and Judaism
In Reconstructionist circles, women have been taking an active role in leadership and ritual since the early 1950s, a generation before this became common elsewhere. Continuing in this tradition, women at Kol Emet have the equal opportunity to lead the congregation, participate in all prayer rituals including aliyahs, Torah readings, and minyanim. The Reconstructionist prayer book utilizes language that recognizes the contributions women have made to the spiritual growth of the Jewish people.
The non-Jewish partner is recognized as a full member of the congregation, welcomed to participate completely in all social, religious and leadership aspects of Kol Emet. A non-Jewish member can hold any board position, except president and vice president of the synagogue. At Kol Emet, as throughout all Reconstructionism, a child is recognized as Jewish if either the mother or father is Jewish.
Today we must live and work with the awareness that we ourselves can and do make changes. From the Reconstructionist perspective, what is constant; in Judaism are the Jewish people and their devotion to the highest ideals of the religious civilization. The Jewish people who share in this devotion should determine in any given era what Judaism would be like. Because of our reverence for our past we must carefully think through how we will reconstruct Judaism in every generation.
A Found Poem by Julie Asplen
Derived from the text found on the Reconstructing Judaism website (www.reconstructingjudaism.org).
Generation to generation,
Country to country,
Ongoing relationship with God.
Language, literature, art, history, music, food, land, rituals and beliefs,
Celebrating values, customs, beliefs,
Creative Jewish living, learning, leadership
Guides our lives toward holiness, meaning and purpose
Building a more just and compassionate world.
Living that reveals holiness and godliness
In the world,
In moments of everyday,
In discovering life’s meaning.
God is the everyday miracles of our lives,
The power that animates life,
The daily acts of creation,
The highest strivings of the human spirit,
A power that works through us.
A feeling of belonging
Ultimate worth and dignity
Of every human being
Celebrated and valued.
Choose a unique path
To answer the ultimate questions of life,
Spiritual, humanistic answers,
Embracing the totality of human knowledge,
Highest levels of intellectual integrity,
In partnership with others
To repair the world
Through actions that reflect fundamental Jewish values.
Tradition has a vote, not a veto.
Freshness and relevance in each new generation of Jews.