Great Barrington — The president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, will be visiting Congregation Ahavath Sholom on Tuesday, July 22, to share with Berkshire Jewish community her views on the evolution of the Reconstructionist movement, the newest and most American of Jewish denominations.
She will be speaking at 7:30 p.m. at congregation’s shul at 15 North Street, the oldest continuously operating synagogue in the Berkshires.
During her presentation she will answer questions and lead a discussion exploring the defining characteristics of Reconstructionist Judaism. So come with questions.
Her remarks will also address the new partnership of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities (the JRC, formerly known as the JRF).
Barbara J. Cohen, Spiritual Leader of congregation, believes Rabbi Waxman is the first woman rabbi to head a Jewish congregational union and lead a Jewish seminary.
Cohen hopes to see many new faces at the event.
“It isn’t often that the head of a national movement comes to speak at a small congregation in a rural area like the Berkshires,” she points out.
Naturally, she has only the highest of expectations for the event.
“This is also a wonderful chance for our members and the broader community to expand our knowledge of the different ways one can live a relevant Jewish life in the 21st century,” she added. “Ask and learn along with us at Ahavath Sholom.”
“It is a great honor to host Rabbi Waxman at our synagogue,” said Sandra Flannery, president of Ahavath Sholom. “We are looking forward to a fascinating and enlightening discussion with Rabbi Waxman. People are not as familiar with Reconstructionist Judaism as they are with the other three major movements. This is an opportunity to learn about the movement from the source.”
Rabbi Waxman has sat on the faculty of RRC, teaching courses on Reconstructionist Judaism and practical rabbinics. She graduated cum laude from Columbia University and received rabbinical ordination and a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from RRC in 1999. Waxman studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as both an undergraduate and graduate student, and earned a Ph.D. in American Jewish History from Temple University in May 2010. She has published numerous articles among which are “ ‘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).
The Reconstructionist movement is committed to its roots in tradition, to egalitarianism and inclusion, and to helping Jewish communities flourish. The Jewish Reconstructionist Communities in association with the Recontructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) provide services for more than 100 congregations and havurot (a group which meets for study and/or prayer and community)where members help create the Judaism they want to live. RRC is a progressive rabbinical school where people of all backgrounds engage intensively with Jewish texts, thought and practice. As a combined organization, RRC and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities make up a unique kind of entity in the contemporary Jewish landscape.
Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, the intellectual founder of Reconstructionism, viewed Judaism as the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people. Each generation is responsible for guiding that evolution in order to meet the needs of contemporary Jews. Kaplan promoted democracy in the synagogue community and respect for the religious opinions of individuals. The Reconstructionist movement works to build Jewish communities that are spiritually and intellectually vibrant, and committed to Jewish learning, ethics and social justice.