It’s true. There is more going on in the world than the World Series. I love the way the Red Sox unite our city, even among non-fans. With 900 channels on tv, and with ipods, Pandora and Googleplay replacing standard radio listening, it’s nice to have a shared experience that brings us out of our neatly autonomous lives. But there are times when we’re not watching games, or otherwise talking, reading or tweeting about sports. This column is one of them (for this week, at least).
So you might not be aware that this has been a big week for the Reconstructionist movement.
Last week, I received two brand-new copies of volume two of A Guide to Jewish Practice. If you haven’t yet seen volume one, “Everyday Living,” it’s the first in a set of three, comprising a Reconstructionist guide to everything from Tikkun Olam/Social Justice practices to organizational ethics to keeping kosher to everyday spirituality. This first volume received the prestigious Myra Kraft Memorial Award for Contemporary Jewish Life from the Jewish Book Council in 2011. Feel free to borrow a copy next time you are at HBT or order your own copy.
In the second volume, “Shabbat and Holidays,” you will find two chapters that I authored. Whoever can guess which two holidays I chose gets a chocolate kiss. (email me: email@example.com) In addition, I contributed commentary on the other holidays in the book. The commentary is what makes this such a rich and cutting-edge resource on Jewish holiday observance. Each commentator adds an individual spark – a creative understanding, an unusual practice, an insightful teaching – to the main text. We have one copy for the congregation’s library. I would recommend you get a volume for your home to renew and inspire your family celebrations. The Shabbat chapter alone is worth the entire volume.
In an historic development this past week, the Reconstructionist movement announced the appointment of Rabbi Deborah Waxman as president-elect of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the movement. I have known and admired Rabbi Waxman for many years as a scholar, a leader and a rabbi who is deeply attuned to the real life of Jews today, grounded in an appreciation for the gifts of the Jewish past.
As I listened to Rabbi Waxman share her goals for the movement in a teleconference on Wednesday, I heard a vision that responds to a new generation of Jews and a 21st-century approach to Judaism, one that will “give us and the next generation ways and reasons to be Jewish, to connect and grow through engagement with our rich tradition and with our community.”
Her top two goals for the movement are about creating meaningful Judaism and bringing our religious perspective to issues of the day:
v The Reconstructionist movement should be a place where people “encounter wisdom or action, a ritual or person or experience that illuminates the moment in which they are living, that lights at least the next few steps of the path forward and hopefully leads to sustaining community.” She aspires to make sure that “Judaism is at least one place that people turn to, hopefully the first, but at least one place.”
v Rabbi Waxman also seeks to promote the Reconstructionist commitment to living a life of social justice into the public square, to ensure that progressive religion will be “a strong counter-force to fundamentalism.” With a vision well beyond the needs of Reconstructionist communities, her intent is to demonstrate emphatically that “it is possible to be sustained by a religious perspective that respects and does not delegitimize the other.”
While it may be obvious that Deborah will be the first woman to lead a rabbinical seminary or a Jewish movement, we should also be proud that she is the very openly gay/lesbian leader as well. To read more…
Finally, to launch the newly-structured Reconstructionist movement, this coming Sunday will be the first business meeting of the newly-constituted plenum of the Reconstructionist movement. Craig will be on the call as our congregational representative and I will participate, along with other congregational rabbis, as an ex-officio member. We look forward to sharing an update with you next week. We have much to celebrate in our small, yet influential, movement.
Having said all that,