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Reconstructionist Judaism

SAJ is proud to be the founding congregation of the Reconstructionist movement, the spiritual home of Dr. Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, whose ideas changed Jewish life and continue to inform all denominations and Jewish communities today.

Judaism is an evolving religious civilization. For it to remain living, we must reach out and take hold of Jewish practice, reshape it, and make it new for each generation. Reconstructionist communities study our inherited traditions and shape their practices with the assumption that the past has a vote, but not a veto.

Reconstructionists approach Judaism — and life — with deep consideration of the past and a passion to relate it to the present. In a rapidly changing world, Reconstructionist communities share and create new ways of being Jewish to connect us to the divine and ensure our lives are filled with purpose.

  • We view Judaism as the evolving civilization of the Jewish people in an ongoing relationship with God. Our shared culture — rituals, traditions and practices — reflect over 3,000 years of that evolution, and we continue to share and shape it today.
  • We break down the walls that divide us — demonstrating what it means to be Jewish today — standing up for justice and creating a better world for all.
  • We experience — and discover — God through our daily acts of ritual, creative expression and humanity, which leads to individual spiritual fulfillment.
  • We have originated many of the core innovations within American Judaism and lead efforts to make our community even more forward-thinking, inclusive and relevant
  • We are committed to democratic practice in Jewish life and believe that people hold the right — and obligation — to reconstruct Judaism in order for it to remain relevant in our lives.

Reconstructionist Judaism believes belonging to the Jewish people is primary and that belonging leads to behaving which leads to believing:

  • Belonging: The idea of Jewish peoplehood is central to Reconstructionism. Jews share binding ties that cut across differing practice, beliefs, and national boundaries, binding us together through a common history and shared destiny. At the same time, Reconstructionists reject the traditional notion of Jews as the Chosen People: we take pride in our distinctiveness and sense of vocation at the same time as we affirm the dignity and potential sanctity of all faiths and peoples.
  • Behaving: Judaism is an evolving religious civilization. For it to remain living, we must reach out and take hold of Jewish practice, reshape it, and make it new for each generation. Reconstructionist communities study our inherited traditions and shape their practices with the assumption that the past has a vote, but not a veto.
  • Believing: Reconstructionists hold diverse ideas about God, but we share an emphasis on Godliness—those hopes, beliefs, and values within us that impel us to work for a better world, that give us strength and solace in times of need, that challenge us to grow, and that deepen our joy in moments of celebration. Recognizing that all descriptions of God are metaphor, our prayerbooks offer images of God that go far beyond “king of the universe.”

Camp Havaya

SAJ has a strong relationship with Camp Havaya, one of the crown jewels of Reconstructing Judaism. Camp Havaya, with its diversity and focus on acceptance and being one’s best self, is a truly extraordinary place. Your child will feel part of something bigger than themselves, and they’ll want to experience that magic year after year.

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