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Greetings, Hebrews!

Discussion in 'Judaism DIR' started by JonM, Jan 16, 2006.

  1. JonM

    JonM Member

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    Shalom, y'all. Looks as if the Jewish community is pretty small around here. Hopefully, I'll make it a little bit bigger. I'm a Reconstructionist (disappointed that there's no Reconstructionist forum), and I'm considering becoming a rabbi. Any other Reconstructionists in the house?
     
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  2. Deut 13:1

    Deut 13:1 Well-Known Member

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    shalom...

    what exactly is reconstructionst??? sounds like reformed to me.
     
  3. JonM

    JonM Member

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    Well, like the Reform movement, the Reconstructionist movement is progressive, but they are distinct; in fact, they're unrelated. Reconstructionism was founded by the writings of Mordecai Kaplan in the mid-20th century as an offshoot of the Conservative movement for progressive Jews dissatisfied with the Reform movement. The Reform movement emphasizes the notion that Jews should be, first and foremost, good citizens of their nation in order to promote the common good, an idea taken from Baruch Spinoza, a philosopher whom I like very much but whom most traditional Jews don't even consider Jewish (he was excommunicated for his radical panentheistic ideas). The way this teaching has manifested itself in the Reform movement is alarming to Reconstructionists; Reform services are very anglicized and, well, Christian-feeling. There is a feeling of assimilation into Christianity-dominated society which is upsetting to many Jews for whom tradition is very important, even if they are ethically very progressive.

    Reconstructionist Judaism is based on the Conservative movement, with mostly Hebrew prayer and traditional melodies, but Reconstructionists are far more progressive. Halacha is optional; each may interpret the mitzvot in her own way. The emphasis is community, not observance. Services are very musical, and interfaith prayer and dialogue is very important. Most importantly, though, Reconstructionist Judaism does away with much of the discrimination present in more traditional Jewish denominations. The Reform movement and even parts of the Conservative movement allow much more religious responsibility for women, but Reconstructionists make no distinctions based on gender or sexual orientation. In fact, my synagogue at home was founded for gay and lesbian Jews ostracized by the greater Atlanta Jewish community. This tolerance and openness, combined with the distinctly Jewish identity I feel is lacking from Reform Judaism, is what I love about Reconstructionism.
     
  4. Deut 13:1

    Deut 13:1 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. What are their thoughts on the Torah?
     
  5. JonM

    JonM Member

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    We see the Torah as holy for many reasons, but not because the words came directly from God. Words are human inventions, imperfect symbols for which God has no use. We believe that the words were inspired by God, and that inspiration has held our people together for nearly 6,000 years, and that makes the Torah holy, but we believe that the mitzvot must be updated with the times as people and society evolve. Those commandments that were written down in the five books of Moses were appropriate for their own era, and they represent overall Jewish attitudes that have remained fairly constant, but our cultural context for those attitudes is very different from the context in which the Torah was compiled. With that in mind, Reconstructionists observe the mitzvot with which they are personally comfortable, but the major ethical framework, the moral tenets as close to universal as possible, are as Jewish as those of any other denomination.
     
  6. Avi

    Avi Member

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    Halacha isn't important? Do Reconstructionists do away with the Mishna? What about the basic inspirations of the Torah such as the 10 commandments; are those followed unconditionally?
     
  7. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    I'm sorry that you choose to introduce yourself by stigmatizing Liberal Judaism, but that is your right. Perhaps we can discuss Kaplan's transnaturalism someday. Shalom.
     
  8. Deut 13:1

    Deut 13:1 Well-Known Member

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    So who chooses what was meant for the ancient hebrews and meant for today?
     
  9. JonM

    JonM Member

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    It isn't that Halacha isn't important, it's that it's important because it is tradition and not because it is the binding word of God. Tradition is very important to Reconstructionists, because it is what makes Jews a family, and therefore many Reconstructionists intentionally keep as many mitzvot as any other mainstream Jew. Nothing is followed unconditionally; rather, we follow the commandments which our community makes us feel responsible to follow, which is most of the important ones.

    The community does. Of course there are grey areas, but Judaism is all about grey areas. For the most part, we see the near-universal importance of most of the commandments, anyway, but we do away with those which clearly offend and discriminate.

    I meant to stigmatize nothing; I merely wished to express my sentiments and those of my congregation on their behalf.
     
  10. Deut 13:1

    Deut 13:1 Well-Known Member

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    Yes and those 'grey' areas are cleared up with intense study into the Oral Law and the surrounding commentaries. IE. Mishnah, Gemora, Midrash. I assume you're at least familiar with those terms. Let's start with something simple, pork. Who chooses if it's okay to eat pork?
     
  11. JonM

    JonM Member

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    Agreed, but we don't expect congregants to study commentary. We believe that a good, Jewish life can be lived without them. The answer to your question here is very simple: We keep kosher if we're moved to do so, and we don't if we're not, just like any other mainstream denomination. However, I'd be willing to bet that a disproportionately high number of Reconstructionists are vegetarians, as am I, so we keep kosher by default, I suppose, unless you want to get REALLY technical, because I certainly don't search for the kosher label on everything I eat.

    Interestingly, though, my dietary choices are based in a way on my religious responsibility. My interpretation of the laws of kashrut is that they were written for their time out of the same health and environmental sustainability concerns that drive me to stop eating meat, and buy organic and fair trade produce whenever possible. Some political party in Israel recently tried to change the kashrut laws to reflect similar concerns. I thought that was pretty cool. It was updating kashrut for a much more complicated time.
     
  12. Deut 13:1

    Deut 13:1 Well-Known Member

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    No rabbinic supervision = non-kosher
    Non-kosher plates = non-kosher

    I guess my biggest problem is ignorance. You're stating that the laws were meant for people back then. What about murder? Was that a law meant for back then?

    You're arbitarily picking and choosing which ones apply and which ones don't. Especially after what HaShem says in Deut 4:2.

    Give me an exact time that the laws of kashrut wore out. Then explain why you arbitarily picked that day.
     
  13. Green Gaia

    Green Gaia Veteran Member

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    Just for you: Recontructionist forum, Shalom.
     
  14. jewscout

    jewscout Religious Zionist

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    Shalom JonM!
    It's great to have other views, especially that of the Reconstructionist branch here on RF.

    I attend a Conservative Shul though my beliefs and desires fall more in line w/ Orthodoxy.

    I look forward to learning more about Reconstructionist Judaism and discussing the similarities as well as the differences we will no doubt find.:)
     
  15. JonM

    JonM Member

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    WOW! I forgot what being on a relatively small forum was like! Or maybe this one just has particularly benevolent moderators! Thank you!
     
  16. Avi

    Avi Member

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    A good case can be made that the laws of kashrut have mostly nothing to do with health, but rather are to be obeyed because G-d views them as spiritually clean. How is mixing dairy and meat unhealthy? Or eating Pork?
     
  17. Deut 13:1

    Deut 13:1 Well-Known Member

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    And where have I put forth an argument based on health? Open your version of the Torah to Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21.

    I love G-d, and G-d says that we need to do commandments in the Torah. When I do what G-d wants me to do, this is one of the ways in which I show my love for him. G-d revealed Himself to people on Sinai and allowed us a relationship with Him. Now, considering the fact that man is nothing, and G-d is everything, on whose terms do you think that this relationship should be on??? G-d's? Or yours?

    G-d's terms... Furthermore, G-d gave us the terms of the relationship (His commandments). He basically says, if you love Him, then do His commandments. If you love Him, then express your love on His terms. Because He is G-d, and you are NOT.

    That is the essence of Judaism. Having a relationship with G-d on HIS terms, not yours.

    So my problem with your approach to having a relationship with G-d and Christianity's general approach is this, you basically are saying, "G-d, those terms You laid out in our relationship, they are too much, we don't need to follow them anymore. Now, before You say anything, G-d, it's important for you to know that we still love You a lot...but not on Your terms. On our terms...Now what are our terms??? Well, G-d, I'm thrilled for You to ask, we looooooooooooove you very,very, very much. We ignore most of the terms on which You established a relationship with us, but we still loooove You.".

    This is basically your approach which I find nothing but trash
     
  18. JonM

    JonM Member

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    Well, that was out of nowhere. Don't worry, I'm quite familiar with the contention that I'm not a Jew. Usually I just wonder how the dogma machine that says it to me missed that whole "I am your God" commandment thing and decided that a book was God instead.

    We have very different views on God, religious life, and Judaism itself. I respect yours, but evidently you don't respect mine. That's unfortunate. I really thought you were interested up to this point.
     
  19. Deut 13:1

    Deut 13:1 Well-Known Member

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    Were you born of a Jewish mother? Then you're Jewish. Period. Nor have I claimed yer not Jewish, so don't put words in my mouth.

    I respect your right to worship whatever you want, I just don't give it much validation for the reasons above.

    Oh, I'm interested in listening to your opinion on Torah and what verses mean as well as rabbinic commentaties, just realize, I don't give it much credit when you set the relationship on your terms and not G-ds. Simple as that. That's why I posted what I did, to explain the difference between yer approach and mine.
     
  20. JonM

    JonM Member

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    Okay, well you said my beliefs were "trash" and that they violate "the essence of Judaism," so I was just checking.
     
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