Archive for the ‘Reconstructionist News’ Category

Future rabbis learn Arabic for peace building


Rabbinical students at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College were engaged in a progressive initiative earlier this year when they were taught Arabic as a way to learn about the similarities between Arabic and Hebrew and to find ways to bridge the divide between Jews and Arabs.

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, 1982, invited Dr. Barry Mann to teach the class, using their knowledge of Hebrew. Both languages, like the people, are cousins with many similarities. Mann learned Arabic during his sojourn in Israel.

Each person was tasked with learning enough of the language so that a presentation could be done in Arabic as part of a final “testing” of knowledge and understanding.

In addition to rabbinical students, graduates and community members also participated.

To learn more, visit to see how the class unfolded.

Haiku and win a free machzor

reconachzorThe Reconstructionist Press has announced a haiku contest for the High Holidays.

Enter to win a copy of the Reconstructionist Kol Haneshamah machzor by creating a short verse creation written especially for the High Holidays.

Two separate contests are being held, one for adults and one for youth, ages 8-16.

To submit a haiku, “like” the Reconstructionist Press on Facebook at and post the verse on the Facebook page.

Deadline is Aug. 22. Winning haikus will be posted on Facebook.

No purchase is required.

Six graduate from RCC

RRC Logo copy

Six rabbinical students received smichah (ordination) from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College during the spring commencement ceremony.

Those graduates are Danielle Parmenter, Ilanit Lauren Goldberg, Nicholas Renner, Ellen Jaffe-Gill, Malka Packer and Tamara Ruth Cohen.

To learn more about these new rabbis, visit

RRC elects new prez


Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., has been elected as the new president of the Reconstuctionist Rabbinical College (RRC) in Philadelphia, Penn. She takes office on Jan. 1, 2014.

She is considered to be the first woman to hold a post of this nature for a Jewish congregational union.

She has a deep commitment to the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement (JRM), from her time as a student and up through her service more recently as vice president. She was also on deck for the strategic plan to merge the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation with the rabbinical college.

She brings an inclusive vision to her tenure.

Waxman, a historian of American Judaism, brings to the fore a vision that emphasizes relevance and pluralism. She believes that in the 21st century, as Jewish people choose from a vast array of spiritual, religious and cultural sources to construct their identities, Reconstructionist Judaism offers a distinctive way toward meaning and connection. She also is interested in fostering a more robust presence for all progressive religions in the public square.

Waxman brings particular expertise in strategic planning. In her previous work as RRC’s vice president for governance (2003 to 2013), she played a central role in creating RRC’s first-ever such initiative as well as its first institution-wide assessment plan. In winter 2014, along with a team of Reconstructionist movement leaders, she will move forward another first — a strategic plan for RRC as a combined organization, which trains Jewish leaders and also provides services to congregations.

Waxman also is a strong fundraiser. Her grant proposals have won support from leading funders such as the Kresge Foundation, Wexner Foundation and Cummings Foundation; and she has cultivated and stewarded major individual donors for RRC.

As vice president, she staffed the organization’s board of more than 40 members and 13 committees — setting mandates and evaluating impact — and was key in the successful integration of the rabbinical college and the congregational union in June 2012. She led RRC’s academic accreditation work as well; she chaired self-study and review processes to demonstrate the College’s compliance with required standards.

Her academic presentations include “Reconstructing Religious Authority in a Democratic Context: Early Reconstructionist Approaches and their Contemporary Resonances,” for the Association for Jewish Studies Conference in December 2011. At the 2013 conference, she will participate in a round table discussion titled “Mordecai M. Kaplan Reconsidered: The Meaning and Significance of His Legacy for Our Time.” She has presented frequently for lay audiences as well; most recently she taught on the subject “Rejecting Chosenness — An Exploration.” She has received a number of academic honors, including the Ruth Fein Prize given by the American Jewish Historical Society. She serves on the society’s academic council.

Waxman has sat on the faculty of RRC, teaching courses on Reconstructionist Judaism and practical rabbinics. From 2002 to 2012, she served as High Holiday rabbi for Congregation Bet Havarim in Fayetteville, NY.

Her published articles include “‘A Lady Sometimes Blows the Shofar’: Women’s Religious Equality in the Postwar Reconstructionist Movement” in A Jewish Feminine Mystique?: Jewish Women in Postwar America (Rutgers University Press, 2010), “Distinctiveness and Universalism: How to Remain Jewish if Jewish Isn’t Better” (Zeek, fall 2010); “The Challenge of Implementing Reconstructionism: Art, Ideology and the Society for the Advancement of Judaism’s Sanctuary Mural,” co-authored with Joyce Norden (American Jewish History, September 2009), and a review of the National Museum of American Jewish History for Pennsylvania History (winter 2012).

Waxman graduated cum laude from Columbia College, Columbia University, where she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society. She received rabbinical ordination and a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from RRC in 1999. She studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as both an undergraduate and graduate student, and received a Horace W. Goldsmith Fellowship to support her graduate work. She earned a Ph.D. in American Jewish History from Temple University in May 2010; her dissertation was titled “Faith and Ethnicity in American Judaism: Reconstructionism as Ideology and Institution, 1935–1959.”

To hear her acceptance remarks, click below:


To hear about her vision, click below:


info: 215.576.0800, ext. 129.

Movement opens 2013 PEARL sessions

The Jewish Reconstructionist Movement has announced its 2013 PEARL sessions.

PEARL (Providing Education and Resources for Leadership) is a distance-learning program designed to provide meaningful information and strategies for congregational leaders, members, clergy, educators and staff. Expert speakers partner with movement professional staff and lay leaders to help strengthen congregations and havurot, grow leadership, deepen Jewish spiritual life and continue critical tikkun olam/social justice work.

These one-off educational opportunities cover a broad range of topics, from Israel to budgets to curbing gun violence, and more.

Visit the site to learn more about the sessions and register at

An archive of previous years’ sessions is also available online.

Sessions to date:

Having the Hard Conversations About Israel
Feb. 4

Managing Money and Mitzvot: Congregational Budgets, Dues and Fundraising 1 (smaller congregations)
Feb. 13
1 p.m.

Managing Money and Mitzvot: Congregational Budgets, Dues and Fundraising 1 (larger congregations)
Feb. 21
1 p.m.

Jewish Education Programs for the Future
Feb. 25
8 p.m.

Tikkun Olam Series: Citizen Action on Climate Change
April 3
1 p.m.

Tikkun Olam Series: Curbing Gun Violence
April 17
1 p.m.

Tikkun Olam Series: Poverty
April 23
3 p.m.

JRF has now restructured

On June 3 a Plenum was held across the globe where delegates overwhelmingly voted to approve the restructuring of the movement by unifying the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (JRF) and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC).

RRC will now begin running programs formerly offered by JRF, said Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz. He went on to say that he looked forward to the “creative possibilities before us, now that we’ve brought together our training of tomorrow’s rabbis and our administration of services we offer the community today.”

The changes were immediate. A new board is in the process of being formed and should be filled as quickly as possible to assure that all services will be met relative to both congregations and clergy.

The movement will launch a new website by August to reflect all of the changes. The current site may be reached at Once the changeover is made, it will be Additionally, more information will be made available in August with regard to program offerings.

Answers to questions regarding the restructuring may be found at

Annual report from RRC available

A new interactive annual report has been posted online from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College which includes a number of interesting stories.

The piece may be enlightening to those who are unfamiliar with the composition of the movement.

To view this document, visit