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Welcome!

Welcome to the digital revival of Reconstructionism Today, the long-running newsletter Reconstructionists enjoyed seeing in their mailboxes. Expect interesting articles, heartwarming stories, and important announcements delivered directly each month to your inbox. Now, wherever you are, the news of the Reconstructionist movement can reach you on your favorite device. We hope you'll be inspired and informed by these stories from RRC and Reconstructionist communities around the world.
In this Issue:
. Justice in Detroit: Reconstructionists Lead the Way

The Motor City, long a symbol of what’s wrong with urban America, is home to a dynamic new movement for change, and Detroit’s Reconstructionist Jews are leading the way—in the process, reinventing not only their city, but their congregation.

Three years ago, Congregation T’chiyah set out to rebuild itself as a social justice-focused community. T’chiyah President Andy Levin, a green energy entrepreneur and ex-nursing home union organizer, says “Many American Jews tie their Jewish identity to the idea of making the world a better place.” When it comes to the congregation’s new focus on social justice and organizing, he says, “A lot of young people are responding.”

At a recent event, for instance, Levin says, “We had a child Holocaust survivor interacting with 20-somethings.” And the congregation’s successful “It Takes a Shtetl” project raised money for Detroit Jews for Justice, enabling the organization to undertake their first big campaign: getting paid family leave time on Michigan's November ballot.

Congregation T’chiyah’s focus on social justice also mattered when it came to choosing a new rabbi. Long operating with lay-led services, the 39-year-old Reconstructionist congregation decided to recruit a leader with a passion for justice and community organizing, someone whose work would involve both fighting for social change and nurturing the spiritual life of the congregation.

They found her in Alana Alpert, an energetic young rabbi eager to combine activism and spirituality.

“I pray for nothing short of total transformation,” Alpert told the Michigan United Justice Assembly following her trip to Ferguson, MO to protest police violence. “And that we have the strength and courage to do our part to help bring that transformation about.”

Levin and other congregants see this new start as a way for the congregation to stay vibrant and nurture its members as they walk together into a new phase of their communal life.


For more information:
http://tchiyah.org
http://www.detroitjewsforjustice.org

(photos courtesy of Detroit Jews for Justice)

.Being an Ally to Muslim Americans

The events of 9/11 inspired a huge shift in Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer's research and activism. Fuchs Kreimer, Director of the Reconstructionist movement's Center for Multifaith Studies, had begun the important work of connecting Jews and Muslims in order to learn about each other's lives. What she hadn't done was to focus on clergy. Why? She had learned in other multifaith work that a focus on clergy often excludes women because women aren't ordained in some faith traditions.

Convinced that a Judaism/Islam 101 class wouldn’t be the answer to a shared understanding, she wanted to create the kind of learning environment that would allow both groups to truly connect and find out what keeps the other awake at night—what are each group’s shared hopes, dreams, and fears? Now, with the help of the Henry Luce Foundation, Fuchs Kreimer has created a space for Jews and Muslims to come together as neighbors.

Recently, Fuchs Kreimer’s work with her students was captured in this Philadelphia Inquirer article. For her winter class, “Religious Leadership in a Multifaith Society,” she brought her students—our future rabbi/leaders/changemakers—to spend an afternoon at a local mosque and engage in open discussion. Fuchs Kreimer also brought this work to January’s “New York Day of Reconstructionist Learning” in a workshop called "Being an Ally with Muslim Americans." Here are resources you can use in your community.
.Optimistic Israel
 
As Reconstructionists, we're finding new ways to relate to Israel. This year, we will focus on the positive combination of American values and religious pluralism. Our phrase, "Optimistic Israel," represents both this combination and our partnership with institutions of the new Israeli-Jewish Renaissance.

Click here to read our recent statement on the expansion of egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel. You’ll also be moved by this piece from RRC Director of Israel Engagement Adina Newberg, Ph.D., on the women who were left out of the decision, and how our deep commitment to religious pluralism and freedom compels us to support these Orthodox Feminists.

For more stories from the Israeli-Jewish Renaissance, follow the Gateways to Israeli-Jewish Renaissance Facebook page.

(photo by Or Glickman)
.Reconstructionist Ritualwell
 

Purim

Purim begins Wednesday evening, March 23, and Ritualwell.org, our website for gathering, sharing and reconstructing ritual, is filled with ideas and insights! Enjoy these reflections on Purim as a time to be who you are, embrace your hidden self with this essay, "Hidden in Plain Sight," and learn about how the Purim experience has changed over time into “a mysterious treat, a chance to grab some happiness in the midst of life’s inevitable sorrows.”
Ritual for Adopting a Pet

For anyone lucky enough to take home that doggie in the window (or listed on the Petfinder website) this month, here’s a Ritualwell.org ceremony for adopting a new pet.

(photo courtesy of Austin Martinez Photography)
.Coming up

Camp JRF Summer 2016!
It's not too late to register for Camp JRF, the camp that brings together Reconstructionist children. Let your kids experience our camp’s famous, inclusive “How We Be” vibe. All are welcome, whether they’re young first-timers or headed for the teen Eco-Village. If your child needs to take an airline flight, our incredibly friendly camp staff will work with you to ensure she or he gets to camp without any problems. Register now for Summer 2016.

Experience our new Camp JRF video
 
Chesapeake Annual CelebrationMarch 13, 2016 at 4 p.m.
Register now for the 25th Chesapeake Annual Reconstructionist Celebration at Oseh Shalom (7515 Olive Branch Way, Laurel, MD)! We will honor long-time Chesapeake Reconstructionist leader John Riehl, along with volunteers from communities in the region, followed by a buffet dinner. Learn more and register.
 
No’ar Hadash North American Teen Kallah in Philadelphia for 8th-12th gradersApril 8-10, 2016
This April, 8th through 12th graders from across North America will have the opportunity to attend the exciting No'ar Hadash North American Teen Kallah in Philadelphia, PA. We’ll be staying in the heart of Philadelphia, walking distance from incredible landmarks like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Teens will explore the city, taste the many flavors of Reading Terminal Market, celebrate Shabbat near Rittenhouse Square, and eat at Han Dynasty, one of the top 50 Chinese Restaurants in America! Download a registration form and send it in today. For more information, contact Brianna Spatz at bspatz@rrc.edu
 
"Wrestling with Jewish Peoplehood” Shabbaton and ConferenceShabbaton: April 8-9, Conference: April 10-11, 2016
Join the discussion and celebration of Peoplehood at our Shabbaton and Conference in Philadelphia or via livestream. Register here, see the schedules as well as a list of the local Reconstructionist and other congregations we’re partnering with, including Mishkan Shalom, Or Hadash, Kol Tzedek, Congregation Shireinu, Leyv Ha-Ir, Minyan Dorshei Derekh, Society Hill Synagogue and Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel. 

Spring Retreat at Camp JRF for 3rd-7th gradersMay 13-15, 2016
Join other 3rd through 7th graders for a fun-filled weekend at Camp JRF. Whether you've been with us before or this is your first time, whether you’re coming on your own or have lots of friends attending, this spring retreat promises to be an amazing weekend of fun, experiential Jewish education, eating, friends, and laughter. Transportation will be provided from locations in Boston, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania (locations to be confirmed based on registration). Make sure to register by April 11 so we can save you a seat on the bus! Download a registration formFor more information, contact bspatz@rrc.edu

Hevreh Summer Adult LearningJuly 20-24, 2016
A spiritual retreat for adults who seek study, prayer, spiritual renewal and growth with leading Jewish scholars, Hevreh returns for a second summer. July 20-24, in Waynesboro, PA. Register now.
.In the News
 
  • “Join me in defending our cherished values of welcoming and embracing the stranger,” writes Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D, president of RRC / Jewish Reconstructionist Communities in this article about Syrian refugees.
     
  • Our Canadian and US communities have staunchly supported Syrian and Kurdish refugees. Dorshei Emet (Montreal) and Darchei Noam (Toronto) have all raised money to support refugee families. B'nai Keshet (Montclair, NJ) hosted a "Jewish-Christmas" dinner of Chinese food for 10 refugee families. Rabbi Elliott Tepperman wrote in the Huffington Post that “It only happened because good people kept saying we have to do something.”
     
  • “Being an inclusive and welcoming community isn’t a goal or a dream – it’s something we do right now.” Camp JRF Director Rabbi Isaac Saposnik on Radical Inclusion for our Youth.
     
  • For the first time, Conservative Congregation Ohavi Zedek has chosen a rabbi outside of the denomination. Her name is Amy Small, former President of Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. Hear about her new position in A New Rabbi For Vermont's Largest Jewish Congregation.
     
  • At Congregation Beth El, Interim Rabbi and RRC graduate Howard Cohen is helping the congregation work toward a “stable community that’s viable and meaningful for people.” Interim Rabbi Howard Cohen a familiar face in Bennington.
     
  • After graduating from RRC, Elizabeth Bolton became Ottawa’s first female congregational rabbi. But before that, she was a mezzo soprano in church and choral operas. The journey from classical singer to trailblazing rabbi.
.Inspiration and Connection
 
  • Join members of other Reconstructionist Congregations on our Facebook page where we post nuggets of wisdom to help infuse your daily life with a bit of Reconstructionist connection and meaning.
     
  • Ideas, info, inspiration and recipes, all day, all the time on our Twitter feed.
     
  • Keep up to date with the democratic trends in Israel on our Gateways to the Israeli-Jewish Renaissance Facebook page, curated by our Director of Israel Engagement, Adina Newberg, Ph.D.
     
  • Need a ritual boost? Browse Ritualwell.org, Reconstructionism’s home for experimental ritual. Follow Ritualwell on Facebook and Twitter.
     
  • Study Torah on your time with Kehillat Israel’s Podcast! While at home or on the go, you can listen to this free podcast from our Pacific Palisades Reconstructionist synagogue with weekly Torah study led by Rabbi Amy Bernstein and other master classes led by Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben.

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



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