temple beth shalom

WHAT IS Reconstructionism?

Reconstructionist Jews describe Judaism as the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people.  As a civilization, Judaism encompasses not only religion, but also the history, literature, art and music, land and languages of the Jewish people, all of which form part of our people’s legacy and search for meaning.

There have been various forms of Judaism in the many times and places in which our people have lived.  As Judaism has entered the modern world, medieval forms of Jewish community and tradition have largely broken down.  Jewish community and tradition are therefore once again in need of reconstruction.

We believe that this reconstruction of Judaism must begin with Jewish communities, which are inclusive, supportive, participatory and egalitarian.  Within these communities, we want Jews from all walks of life to be able to live out a search for ultimate meaning, value and purpose in dialogue with Jewish tradition.  We appreciate traditional Jewish practice and teachings, and are also open to new forms of religious expression.

 Among ourselves we have a diversity of views about God.  Yet, we share a sense that we have inherited a spiritual and cultural legacy that bears the mark and carries the lessons of our people’s life with God throughout the ages.  We believe that tradition has a vote, but not a veto, in building the Judaism of tomorrow.

The Reconstructionist movement originated within the Conservative movement in the 1920’s.  In the 1960’s it organized as a separate movement.  The first Bat Mitzvah was a typical Reconstructionist innovation.

"To be an inclusive community of Jews and their loved ones who are pursuing a thoughtful, contemporary Jewish life."

This statement developed out of a clarification process in which a representational cross-section of the congregation was brought together to discuss what we understood ourselves to be and what we wanted to see ourselves become.  Eventually, the statement was approved by the board of directors and the membership of the congregation.  

Every year we review the statement, assessing ourselves and our words against each other.  The statement is reaffirmed, sometimes with emendation and sometimes not, each year at our May membership meeting. We commit to educational, spiritual and religious growth by promoting the study, practice and ideas of Reconstructionist Judaism. We strive to partner with local congregations as well as other faiths to foster a more just and peaceful world.

Our Mission