Reconstructionist Judaism,
May 2016
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RRC and the entire Jewish Reconstructionist community mourns the passing of Marjorie Ziegelman, z”l, and extends heartfelt condolences to the Ziegelman family. Marjorie and her husband, Aaron, have been among the most visionary supporters of RRC / Jewish Reconstructionist Communities and Camp JRF. May her philanthropy serve as an inspiration to future generations.

We were also saddened by the loss of Rabbi Ron Aigen, z"l, who graduated from RRC in 1976 and served Congregation Dorshei Emet in Montreal for the past 40 years. We extend our condolences to Rabbi Aigen's family and to the community of Congregation Dorshei Emet. Through his pulpit work and writings, he planted countless seeds: may they continue to grow and nourish the world. 

May their memories be for a blessing.
In this Issue:
No'ar Hadash Teen Kallah held from April 8-10, 2016 in Philadlephia. (Photo by Camp JRF)
.The Power of Kehillah
By Claire Rawson-Dannenbaum
Claire was one of 65 Reconstructionist teens from across North America who participated in our No’ar Hadash Teen Kallah, held on April 8 this year in Philadelphia.
The values I’ve learned at Camp JRF and at the Teen Kallah have been incredibly significant to my life. Through these programs, I have been given a kehillah—a communityand have made strong friendships through Camp JRF and No’ar Hadash. Throughout the Reconstructionist teen community, everyone shares a few fundamentals such as the values of spiritual peoplehood that shape Howie Bee (“how we be”) and the resulting mutual respect allows us to form deep and meaningful relationships that last a lifetime. There is no other place where I can sit casually with my boss late at night, laughing uncontrollably with an Oreo stuck to my forehead.
Wisdom. Through havayot—experiential educational programsand divrei Torah at Camp JRF and No’ar Hadash, I have explored the lessons of the Torah and the moral and ethical standards we hold ourselves to as Jews. I have learned what it means to zi a mentsch and ways of implementing that in my daily life.
Spirituality. Going to camp forced me to wrestle with my Jewish identity. I have questioned God and Torah and formed my own opinions instead of flat-out rejecting or blindly accepting my parents’ beliefs. Now I can participate in philosophical conversations, whether they are with a rabbi, peers, or even the occasional English teacher.
Joy. The happiness that comes out of these teen experiences is immeasurable. For weeks after a Kallah or camp, I feel the warmth and glow of this community. The Reconstructionist movement is home to so many intelligent, bright, funny, and kind young people. Whether we’re impersonating vegetables or pondering the existence of a divine entity, I am never happier than with my Reconstructionist kehillah.
For more information about Camp JRF, No’ar Hadash, and other ways to get your teens involved, please email
. Help us reach 10,000 views

Before we release this year's video annual report, we're trying to reach 10,000 views of the award-winning video we created last year about Reconstructionist Judaism.

Can you help us by watching it, and asking your family and friends to watch it too?
(Photo by Tivnu)
.Tivnu: The Jewish Gap Year Program Birthed at Portland’s Havurah Shalom

As many of her high school friends are finishing up their freshman year of college, 19-year-old Hadara Goldsmith has been busy this year building homes, tutoring students from disadvantaged backgrounds and working in a women’s homeless shelterall while learning about the links between Judaism and social justice.
Goldsmithwhose family belongs to Adat Shalom in Bethesda, MDhas also learned to live with others and developed some key life skills, such as cooking and mediating disputes. She is a participant in Tivnu: Building Justice, one of the few Jewish-themed gap year program based in the United States. It’s situated in Portland, OR.
Tivnu is the brainchild of Steve Eisenbach-Budner, a native New Yorker raised in communal housing who spent years working as a carpenter, including time in Israel working alongside Palestinian laborers. His program, inspired by the Labor Zionist and American Labor movements, combines a passion for Judaism and sustainable housing.
The aim of the program is to help society while also helping young people become more independent, compassionate, responsible, and Jewishly knowledgeable adults. Tivnu, which started out doing shorter programs, introduced a gap year in 2014.
“I have become more patient and I don’t get annoyed at people as easily,” said Goldsmith, who is headed to Warren Wilson College in North Carolina this fall. “Even though I am definitely not observant in any way, it is nice to be in a Jewish environment and be able to participate.”
Not only does the program embody Reconstructionist values, a number of Reconstructionists play leadership roles. Eisenbach-Budner is a member of Portland’s Havurah Shalom, as are many of the organization’s board of directors.
“Tivnu really tries to incorporate, not just classic texts, but lessons learned from lived Jewish history,” Eisenbach-Budner said.
Click here to watch Tivnu’s video.
.A Picnic Seder in May? Try Out Our New Haggadah for Yom Ha’atzmaut / Israel Independence Day!

The Reconstructionist movement has adapted a ritual everyone knows, the seder, and repurposed it for a new kind of celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut / Israel Independence Day. Just like the Passover seder, our Yom Ha’atzmaut haggadah tells our story and asks our questions.

Plan your picnic now, and use this new haggadah, modeled on a progressive Israeli tradition, to study, eat, sing and discuss the hopes and dreams of our ancestors that became part of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Reflect on Israel’s story since the establishment of the state, while sharing our aspirations for the future. Download the new, mobile-friendly haggadah.
.Reconstructionist Ritualwell
"Omer 2014" by D’vorah Horn.

Counting the Omer
On Passover, we left Egypt. On Shavuot, we become a nation when we receive the Torah. Now we count the 49 days in between the two holidays as we transition from a life of slavery to a life of freedom and Torah.
For Omer 2016, we are featuring artist D’vorah Horn’s practice of nonverbal expressive creative counting. Each year, D’vorah creates 49 painted panels, one for each day of the Omer.
She writes, “The paintings are meant to inspire a deeper reflection in the viewer, as we respond to them on each day of the Omer.”

Join us at Facebook/RRCcommunity (and on our new Instagram) as we feature the painting of the day with the corresponding meditative text and prayer.

For more rituals, prayers and other ideas for counting the Omer, visit, the Reconstructionist movement's creative ritual website.
If Dr. Seuss Wrote the Shema
You may not like green eggs and ham, but you may like this witty interpretation of the Shema written in the poetic style of Dr. Seuss by RRC student Leiah Moser.
.Coming Up

RRC Graduation
June 5, 2016
Dresher, PA
Join RRC for one of our largest annual gatherings, as we confer the title of Rabbi upon six graduating students. We look forward to announcing their pulpit placements and professional choices over the next few months. Learn more about the graduates.
Camp JRF Summer 2016!
June 26-August 14, 2016
South Sterling, PA
It's not too late to register for Camp JRF, the camp that brings together Reconstructionist children. A few beds are still open. Experience our new Camp JRF video
New Year/New Mode: Creative Leadership for the High Holidays
June 2, 2016
Philadelphia, PA
For anyone who leads High Holiday prayer services—rabbis, lay leaders, educators, rabbinical students—join us to explore creative ritual. Click here to learn more and register.

Hevreh Summer Adult Learning
July 20-24, 2016
Waynesboro, PA
A retreat for adults who seek study, prayer, spiritual renewal and growth with leading Jewish scholars, Hevreh returns for a second summer. Register now.
.Reconstructionists in the News
When two RRC students driving to class began listening to the soundtrack of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” their rabbinic instincts kicked in: What if they wrote a “Hamilton”-inspired haggadah parody? With crafty word play to an urban hip-hop rhythm, Emily Cohen and Jake Best Adler wrote a fun and educational Passover haggadah that has caught national attention in both the Washington Post and the Forward. Check out the haggadah.
Moses found himself in court shortly before Pesakh for aiding and abetting the murder of the Egyptians’ firstborn sons in a mock trial organized by Kol Halev in Cleveland. After spirited arguments from the prosecution and the defense, and testimony from religious leaders like Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, ’82, the audience and jury found Moses “Not Guilty” on all charges. Read more about the trial and interfaith discussion.
Speaking out against corruption in the national government, Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, ’85, joined other religious leaders in a protest in Washington, D.C., with the symbolic golden calf.
Congregation Beth Hatikvah held an interfaith Passover seder at Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, NJ “I had the idea we should take Passover and use it to talk about racism today. So we decided we would have a seder together,” Rabbi Hannah Orden told New Jersey Jewish News.
Speaking at the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center at Indiana University, Rabbi Sue Silberberg, ’88, discussed the role of women in the rabbinate and in the wider Jewish world.
Rabbi Joshua Lesser, ’99, of Congregation Bet Haverim traveled to the Dominican Republic for a week to help the thousands of Dominicans unable to claim citizenship because of their Haitian ancestry.
Inspiration and Connection

Join members of other Reconstructionist congregations on our Facebook, where we post daily wisdom and special announcements.  

Ideas, info, inspiration and recipes, all day, all the time on our Twitter.

Keep up to date with the democratic trends in Israel on our Gateways to the Israeli-Jewish Renaissance Facebook, curated by our Director of Israel Engagement, Adina Newberg, Ph.D.

Need a ritual boost? Browse, Reconstructionism’s home for experimental ritual.

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, '97, and other master classes led by Rabbis Steven Carr Reuben and Nick Renner, ’14.

If you’re looking for spiritual Jewish music, check out the newest CDs released by Congregation Bet Haverim’s Merkavah Project.

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

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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 / Jewish Reconstructionist Communities make up a unique kind of entity in the contemporary Jewish landscape.
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