Following more than 18 months of discussions, the boards of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) – Reconstructionist Judaism’s only seminary – and the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (JRF), the congregational arm of the movement, have voted overwhelmingly to form one entity responsible for addressing all facets of Reconstructionist Judaism in North America. The new organization will also include formal participation by rabbis from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA), whose board voted unanimously to endorse the proposal. While participating in and working closely with the united organization, the RRA will remain an independent professional association representing over 300 rabbis.
The proposal will be sent to the 105 JRF-affiliated congregations and will be voted on at a special meeting scheduled for April 10th in Philadelphia. If approved, the new organization will include a united board made up of lay leaders and rabbis, a united professional staff and a single chief executive.
Reconstructionist leaders believe that combining resources will result in a more efficient use of communal funds, and that the new organization will allow for fully-focused planning to better meet the challenges and opportunities of contemporary Jewish life.
The focus of the united movement will include:
- Jewish scholarship, educating rabbis, and creating resources to serve both the Reconstructionist community and the larger Jewish community.
- Congregational services, congregational schools, adult education, teen and young adult activities and summer camp.
- Commitment to social justice activities and public leadership on issues that is important to the Jewish community, Israel and North American society.
In addition, the movement’s leaders believe a united organization will support an expansion of Reconstructionism’s recognized role as a laboratory for spiritual and intellectual innovation in the Jewish community, with influence that goes far beyond its numbers.
In recent years, the movement has expanded its reach to develop and sustain Jewish engagement outside of the congregational setting, working with college-age Jews as well as seniors, individuals and families who are served by Jewish chaplains. It has also created opportunities for unaffiliated individuals to connect with Judaism through online media.