As envisioned by founder Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, Reconstructionist Judaism is a progressive, contemporary approach to Jewish life. It integrates a deep respect for the traditions of Judaism with a modern social, intellectual, and spiritual life.
The Jewish Experience
For Reconstructionists, Judaism is more than religion; Judaism is the entire cultural legacy of the Jewish people. Religion is central and Jewish spiritual insights and religious teachings give meaning and purpose to our lives. Yet our creativity as expressed through art, music, drama, languages, and literature, and our relationship with tradition, are also integral parts of Jewish culture. Each of these aspects provides a gateway into the Jewish experience that can enrich and inspire us.
In Reconstructionism, we believe that God is that spirit within us, and within the universe, which helps us become loving and caring people; and that power which we perceive through reason, experience, and intuition urges us towards self-fulfillment and ethical behavior. We find God by understanding ourselves, by being morally concerned, and by being motivated to study and live as Jews.
There Is No Right Way to Be a Jew
Each person is actively urged to study Jewish tradition and then to select those ideas and mitzvot that are personally and spiritually meaningful. There is also no single definition of a “good Jew” – some will find meaning in Kashrut and Shabbat, others in study, still others in Jewish culture, Zionism, or social action. What is important is that each Jew acquires a mature and sophisticated level of knowledge about Judaism, so that his or her choices will be informed and educated ones.
Judaism for Modern Life
In order that Judaism may play a life-enhancing role in our lives, we place greater emphasis on positive actions, rather than negative prohibitions. According to Reconstructionism, tradition is entitled to a vote, but not a veto.