The monthly newsletter for Reconstructionist Leaders
June 2016
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In This Newsletter

What You Need to Know:
          New Congregational Directory On the Way
          Tell Us What Is Happening in Your Community
          Can We Receive Your Newsletter?
          Synagogue Connect
          2016-2017 Affiliation Benefits Package
Beyond the Obvious: Experience Israel Through Our New Partnership
Have you seen our new video, Dream With Us?
You Won’t Learn This in the Yeshivah: How Kol Ami Tackled the Tanakh
Recon Communities in the News
RRC in the News
What We're Reading
How to Reach Us
What You Need to Know

New Congregational Directory On the Way: Send Us Your Pictures and Promo Paragraph!
As the launch of a revamped grows closer, our new online directory will contain not only geographical listings but also a profile page for each congregation. We will populate your congregation’s page with basic contact information, links to your website, and a mapping link. We’d also like to give your community the opportunity to provide:
  • A promotional “about us” paragraph describing your congregation, with a focus on the specific strengths and unique qualities of your community.
  • One to three high-quality, high-resolution photos representing your community (at least 1000x1000 pixels if possible).
  • Any special notes with contact information or directions. (Different mailing and physical addresses? Driving directions that Google Maps consistently gets wrong? Let us know!)
We’d like to get an initial round of profiles entered by July 15, though we’ll take submissions on an ongoing basis. Please email your paragraph and photos to Rabbi Michael Fessler, editor of, at
Thank you!
Important Dates

July 4

Independence Day (U.S.)
(Our office will be closed.)

July 20-24
Hevreh (Adult Learning Retreat)
A retreat for adults who seek study, prayer, spiritual renewal and growth with leading Jewish scholars.

August 14
Tisha B’Av


Latest Reconstructionist News to Share

Latest Reconstructionism Today

Living Jewish Learning (blog)

RENA (website)

The Jewish Reconstructionist Communities' Marketing Resource Kit (pdf)

Compassion Fatigue Among Rabbis (pdf)
Tell Us What Is Happening In Your Community
Is your congregation or havurah doing something unique that you want to share with the entire Reconstructionist community? Please let us know!

Stories help us stay connected as a movement, and we would like to share stories about your recent projects, initiatives, events and people in our monthly newsletters, Reconstructionism Today (which is sent to our entire movement) and Leadership Brief (which is sent to our congregational leaders). If there’s something going on that you would like us to share, please let us know on this form, email Rachael Burgess at, or call 215.576.0800, ext. 141.

Can We Receive Your Newsletter?
We know there are many things going on in your community, and we’d love to hear all about them. Can you please add to your email distribution list so members of our Community Engagement department can receive and read your newsletter?

Thank you for helping us stay in touch!

Synagogue Connect

We wanted to share information with you about Synagogue Connect, a project designed to reach out to American college students with the goal of connecting them with congregations for the High Holidays and beyond. Rabbis Ronald N. Brown and Charles Klein, the initiative’s founders, are working together with AEPi, the international Jewish fraternity, to create a list of participating congregations in the U.S. So far, eighteen Reconstructionist congregations have joined; we’d love to add yours to the list as well! 

If you would like more information about participating, please contact Tresa Grauer at

2016-2017 Affiliation Benefits Package
We mailed next year's Affiliation Benefits Package to congregational presidents and executive directors earlier this spring. Please start sending your updated leadership rosters and budgets so that we can stay connected to your current and future congregational leaders to Rory Schonning at

To view the entire Affiliation Benefits package, download a copy here.
Beyond the Obvious: Experience Israel Through Our New Partnership

We’re thrilled to announce that we are planning the first ever Reconstructionist Birthright Israel trip (planned dates: December 18-29, 2016) for young adults age 21-26. Participants will hike, learn, sing and connect with the land, people, history and culture. There are only 40 spots available, and they will fill fast! Learn more at, and be sure to share this exciting opportunity with members of your community.

How are we making this possible? We set out to find unique ways to connect our communities with Israel, and so we’ve partnered with Israel Experts—an Israel-based organization that will not only help individuals and congregations organize trips to the country, but can also provide Israel education to communities in North America.
Israel Experts takes pride in its ability to take visitors “beyond the obvious;” the organization provides more than visits to historic sites such as the Western Wall. Visitors can see areas where the Israeli-Jewish Renaissance is in full bloom or experience fact-finding tours between Israel and Palestine.
For more information about Israel Experts, visit the website.
Have you seen our new video, Dream With Us?

Last year, we gave our annual report a new twist with a video that explains what the Reconstructionist Movement is. The video won the MarCom Gold Award in the e-annual report category; the Silver Award for redesign/rebrand by the Summit International Awards; Gold Quill Merit Award for digital communication from the International Association of Business Communicators; and the Bronze Anvil Award for annual reports from the Public Relations Society of America. 
Not to be outdone, in this year’s video we’re highlighting what Reconstructionists do in the greater world. Through the work of our rabbis, leaders, children and communities, we’re making Judaism relevant in the 21st century.

Feel free to use this video on your website, social media or other marketing materials:

If you have any questions, contact Victoria Guentter at or 215.576.0800; ext. 133.
You Won’t Learn This in the Yeshivah: How Kol Ami Tackled the Tanakh

There have been many transitions during Marcel Infeld’s tenure as president of Kol Ami: The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community. But despite his many duties and challenges, Marcel has never missed a beat when it comes to teaching his adult Jewish education courses.
Infeld is a Holocaust survivor who grew up in a strict Hasidic community and lived in Israel before immigrating to the U.S. in 1951. While he sees himself as more of a secular Jew now, his love for tradition is something he shares with his students.
This September, he will wrap up a four-year Bible study in which participants have read all 24 books of the Tanakh, also known as the Hebrew Bible.
Infeld tried to teach this Tanakh course many times since 1970, but he could not find a method that was both meaningful and efficient. “The Tanakh is ancient literature, our literature,” he says. “Every educated Jew and non-Jew should be familiar with it.”
After maintaining a strong attendance for a monthly Torah study class, his students wanted more. Seeing an opportunity, he began to work on a new method of teaching a larger course.
Adapting a study model similar to the Orthodox Daf Yomi (a practice where students gather to read one page from the Talmud daily in a cycle that takes seven years), Infeld spent a year creating a syllabus and calendar that would cover all three major sections of the Bible – Torah, Prophets and Writings - over the course of a few years. The class meets monthly for an hour and a half, discussing the 15-25 chapters they read in between classes. The class starts promptly at 5 p.m. and even continues throughout the summer. “We don’t have time to waste,” he laughs.
Between the disciplined schedule and the opportunity to learn materials not covered in even the Orthodox Yeshivah, Infeld is happy to say that the course engages 20 percent of Kol Ami’s members (10 students) and has maintained its size the entire time.
Last summer, the class finished studying Nevi’im (the Prophets) and celebrated with a special siyum, similar to the Simchat Torah celebration. This September, the class will celebrate the end of Ketuvim (the Writings) with another siyum, which Rabbi Deborah Waxman, RRC / Jewish Reconstructionist Communities’ president, looks forward to attending.
“I’ve been fascinated with the Tanakh, trying to find wisdom in it, but not always finding it,” he says. “The Tanakh was composed by a committee with varying points of view. My theory is that the editors were really saying to the readers: you decide what materials will reach your needs.”
Recon Communities in the News

Mitzvah Day Unites The Community
Port Washington News

Laurel Synagogue Celebrates Its Inclusivity
Washington Jewish Week

Her Unique Path Provides Life Lessons
Jewish Journal

A Pioneer Looks Back
New Jersey Jewish Standard
What We're Reading

8 Ground Rules for Great Meetings [Harvard Business Review]
The One Quality Most People Want From A Leader [Fortune]

Membership and Engagement:
The Habits Of The Most Successful Networkers [Fast Company]
How to Reach Us:

Tresa GrauerDirector of Affiliate; 215.576.0800, ext. 144
Cyd WeissmanDirector of the Reconstructionist Learning Networks; 215.576.0800, ext. 257
Rabbi Joel AlpertDirector of Rabbinic Placement; 215.576.0800, ext. 304
Jackie LandEducation and Program Specialist; 302.500.0863
Rory SchonningCommunity Engagement Assistant; 215.576.0800, ext. 131
Rachael Burgess, Communications Associate and Editor of Leadership Brief and Reconstructionism Today,; 215.576.0800, ext. 141

Our business hours are Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET; Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. ET

1299 Church Road, Wyncote, PA 19095
P: 215.576.0800 | F: 215.576.6143

.RRC | Jewish Reconstructionist Communities | Ritualwell | Gateways to Israeli-Jewish Renaissance

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The Jewish Reconstructionist Communities in association with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) provide services for more than 100 congregations and havurot where members help create the Judaism they want to live. RRC is a progressive rabbinical school­­ where people of all backgrounds engage intensively with Jewish texts, thought and practice. As a combined organization, RRC and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities make up a unique kind of entity in the contemporary Jewish landscape.
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