Reconstructionist Movement: Helping To Save Old Jews And Usher In The Next Generation

This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Cite this essay cite-image

The reconstructionist movement of the Jews is, in my opinion, beneficial to both the modern-day Jew and the older generation of Jewish people. For many reasons, this movement has helped to save what I would consider a much more conservative era of Jewish people who relied on the traditional ways of practicing Judaism. The reconstruction of the present-day Jew is one of progression and mindfulness during these radical times in our changing world. This new outlook on how you practice your own religion in your own way, has also helped to usher in a new and growing generation of Jew. A few differences between the reconstructionist Jew and what is now considered the “Orthodox” or traditional Jew would be things such as; The modern Jew may view the theology of Jewish texts, such as the torah or even god himself, as guidelines written by other Jews during the last few centuries, to follow and practice at one's leisure. Other things may include a restriction on the well-known kosher diet as some people, especially in today's day and age, carry allergies or other biological deficiencies that cannot be fulfilled using this dietary constraint. These differences and how they affect people's lives today, Jew or not, need to be considered and scrutinized when discussing what defines someone as being part of the Jewish culture.

Firstly, an introduction to where is all started, why it all started and whomst pioneered this new branch of Judaism. New York 1922, being ridiculed by Orthodox rabbis for his focus on​ issues in the community and the sociopolitical environment, a man by the name of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan and his son-in-law Rabbi Ira Eisenstein founded the first synagogue for the advancement of Judaism simply named the “Society for the Advancement of Judaism”, where they also happened to hold the first ever American bat mitzvah to none other than Kaplan's daughter. The whole point of this new movement was to give rabbis the opportunity to form new outlooks on Judaism in a more modern way. In an attempt to spread the word about his newfound way of Judaism, and in his eyes a new way of life, Kaplan wrote and published his own book called Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American Jewish Life. ​ ​It was this book that Kaplan claimed was the beginning of the Reconstructionist movement. In his book, Kaplan states that the modern way of practicing Jewish traditions needs to be reevaluated.

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place an order

The church maintained that having been founded by Christ, who was God incarnate, it alone, through its bishops, was the final and authoritative instrument of divine revelation. Allegiance to the church and obedience to its ordinances were the sole means to salvation. No salvation was therefore possible to anyone who remained outside the church… (Kaplan, p. 7)

Here we can see that he means to fundamentally change how Jews, during that era, go about practicing their religious traditions in a way that does not interfere with their modern-day routines. Kaplan believed that, because of advances in (way of thinking/related to learning about how people think), science and history, it would be impossible for modern Jews to continue to stick to many of Judaism's traditional religious claims. In agreement with People (who strictly follow religious or social rules) study of God, Kaplan stated as true that God is not human-like in any way. All human-like descriptions of God are understood to be symbolic. Kaplan's study of God went further to claim that God is not personal, and not a conscious being, nor can God in any way relate to or communicate with people/ (the kindness of people). Kaplan's study of God defines God as the sum of all-natural processes that allow people to become self-satisfied. The entire purpose of religion is to live a good healthy life and to be seen as a pure soul by God in whatever you believe comes after death. But for Kaplan the so called “Laws” that have been placed by the holy texts would not suffice for our current times. Considering these religious laws as folklore rather than an interpretation of God's will written directly in text was the first step in reconstructing the modern Jew. Following his synagogue, Kaplan also established the

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania in 1981. This school was meant to produce rabbis and spread the recently established branch of Judaism Kaplan has created, across America. Still open and training rabbis as we speak, we finally reach the new century of Jews and their religious practices.

The newfound flexibility of practicing the Jewish religion as you yourself sees fit, is a much more approachable stance on obtaining and retaining new members to Judaism. More leniency of the traditional Jewish practices, in my opinion, leads to a less restricted way of life as a whole. Not required to be Jewish to attend Jewish ceremonies, no limitations on if you were born male or female depending on which of your parents are Jew and no requirement to take birthright are all things the reconstruction movement seeks to improve upon. The ability for non-Jews to attend Jewish hearings and practices in a synagogue is a very reassuring feeling and, in a way, lets people feel out how the religion of Judaism stands with them. Another great example is the difference of gender roles in the Jewish religion. Reconstructionist Judaism allows its leaders of Jewish synagogues to decide their own policy relating to the officiating of marriages (between different races, religions, etc.). Some congregations accept patrilineal as well as matrilineal descent, and children of one Jewish parent, of any (male/female status), are perceived as Jewish by birth if raised as Jews. This is very different from the usual understandings of Jewish law of both Rabbinical Judaism, in which a child is Jewish by birth if its mother was Jewish, and of Karaite Judaism, in which a child is Jewish by birth if its father was Jewish. This is just to show a few of the many so called radical changes in which reconstructionism wishes to provide to the religious seeking people of modern civilization.

A major change to the restrictions of how Judaism is practiced is not only appealing to the new religious seeking public, but also to the traditional/conservative Jew. We speak about limitations and constraints in the Jewish religious practices themselves, yet we forget about how our environment can cause obstructions in our daily lives as well. A modern-day New York Jew may find it difficult to continue practicing traditional Jewish laws, or even holidays for that manner. Let us take the holiday of Kapparot for example. This is a practice in which a chicken or money is waved over a person's head and the chicken is then slaughtered in accordance with halachic rules. From The Complete ArtScroll Machazor: Yom Kippur​ ​ “This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement. This rooster (hen) will go to its death, while I will enter and proceed to a good long life and to peace” (p. 4). Although I’ve never lived in New York during my lifetime before, I can see how it continues to get harder and harder to obtain a live chicken in the city with its limited farm raising land areas and rising expenses. The ability to practice this holiday in your own, personal way seems to be a much more appealing approach in dealing with the struggles of modern-day civilization constraints. Another example is the unknown certainty of whether a food is kosher or non-kosher. Some may say that you could just a restaurant if their food is considered kosher or not, but there is no guarantee if kosher food is processed on the same stove as non-kosher foods. Especially in today's day and age where food dye and coloring are placed in many, many meats and other products, knowing if, for example, food coloring derived from shellfish is used in your food or not would make that food non-kosher. The problem derives from whether or not the ingredients states what the food coloring was created with. Other things such as pork, rabbit, eagle, sturgeon, shellfish, and reptiles, among others, are non-kosher. Although Jews through the years have survived on a non-kosher diet, the possibility of having this restriction in your meals could lead to a deficiency of vital nutrients for a newborn, or even a person who carries a deficiency of a vitamin or protein in their system already. With most modern restaurants and foods actually listing whether their products are kosher or non-kosher, now a days it is seen as easier to identify what you are actually consuming. My main point is that you can never know for sure what those in the food industry are doing to the general public's meals and food products, or if those things cause you to break the kosher diet. In my opinion, environmental factors could cause a traditional Jew to break a kosher diet without him/her even knowing, and that shouldn't be seen as indefensible by Jewish law.

Being able to have that freedom of how you practice the Jewish religion is one thing I vouch for in the reconstructionist movement. Reaching new heights and having a more progressive stance on how you practice your own religion, the reconstructionist movement is a gateway to the modern and even the more traditional style of Judaism. Helping to convert new Jews or keep old ones, reconstructionism was created for our new and still developing world.

And that in of itself, is worth considering when looking to keep your faith, or adopt a new one.


  1. The Complete ArtScroll Machzor: Yom Kippur​, p.4
  2. “The First Bat Mitzvah in the United States”. Jewish Virtual Library. 1922-03-18. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  3. Kaplan, Mordecai Menahem. Judaism as a Civilization: toward a Construction of​ American-Jewish Life​. T. Yoseloff, 1957.
Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this paper

Reconstructionist Movement: Helping To Save Old Jews And Usher In The Next Generation. (2022, February 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
“Reconstructionist Movement: Helping To Save Old Jews And Usher In The Next Generation.” Edubirdie, 18 Feb. 2022,
Reconstructionist Movement: Helping To Save Old Jews And Usher In The Next Generation. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
Reconstructionist Movement: Helping To Save Old Jews And Usher In The Next Generation [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 18 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from:

Join our 150k of happy users

  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
Place an order

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.