Reconstructionist Judaism

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Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern American-based Jewish movement based on the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan (1881–1983). The movement views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization.[1] It originated as a branch of Conservative Judaism before it splintered. The movement developed from the late 1920s to 1940s, and it established a rabbinical college in 1968.

There is substantial theological diversity within the movement. Halakha is not considered binding, but is treated as a valuable cultural remnant that should be upheld unless there is reason for the contrary. The movement emphasizes positive views toward modernism, and has an approach to Jewish custom which aims toward communal decision making through a process of education and distillation of values from traditional Jewish sources.

Contents

Origin

Reconstructionism was developed by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1881–1983) and his son-in-law, Rabbi Ira Eisenstein (1906–2001), over a period of time spanning from the late 1920s to the 1940s. It made its greatest stride in becoming the fourth movement in North American Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform being the other three) with the founding of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1968.

Reconstructionist Judaism is the first major movement of Judaism to originate in North America; the second is the Humanistic Judaism movement founded in 1963 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine.

Theology

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan believed that in light of advances in philosophy, science and history as they existed in the 1930s and 1940s, it would be impossible for modern Jews to continue to adhere to many of Judaism's traditional theological claims. Kaplan's naturalism theology has been seen as a variant of John Dewey's philosophy.[citation needed] Dewey's naturalism combined atheist beliefs with religious terminology in order to construct a religiously satisfying philosophy for those who had lost faith in traditional religion.

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