The Reconstructionist community has adopted a new-ish name: Reconstructing Judaism (Are you laughing? I am). According to Rabbi Deborah Waxman, who’s also the movement’s president: “We are committed to ‘doing’ Jewish. With our new name, we are defining ourselves by what we do, and not just what we believe or how we feel.”
Because they focus more on universal values and consider Halacha to be non-binding, that’s to be expected. With approximately 50,000 members, this small movement never held much appeal for the greater Jewish community, even though it was originally an offshoot of Conservative Judaism.
It’s sometimes confused with Humanist Judaism, another fringe group, but they’re not the same. It is interesting to note, however, that Reconstructionist and Humanist are the only forms of Judaism that were created in America.
Its most prominent family, the Golubs, were instrumental in the creation of Reconstructionist Judaism. Many of you will recognize Rabbi Mark Golub of Shalom TV fame. I used to watch regularly when it was an On Demand option through Comcast. Currently, they’re not in production, but I hope it comes back. While I don’t agree with many of Rabbi Golub’s ideas, he is a powerhouse of innovation and has truly dedicated his life to Judaism. Wonderful person who does great work.
Reform Judaism is plenty liberal enough for me, and I don’t see the appeal of these other groups. That said, there’s nothing wrong with someone choosing to embrace it. Different strokes for different folks, as they say, but surely they could’ve picked a better and more meaningful name. Otherwise, why make the effort at all?
If you have any firsthand experience with the Reconstructionist movement, I’d love to hear your opinion. Personally, I have never met anyone who was interested.