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Rabbi Stiefel's Monthly Article

Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations

Since the founding of Reconstructionism ninety years ago, Reconstructionist Jews have been Jewish community pioneers. Some of our cutting edge innovations include the first Bat Mitzvah in the US, ceremonies to bring baby girls into the Covenant, gender-neutral prayer books and same-sex wedding ceremonies. Many of these developments, now commonplace for us, were originally pressing issues. Today we face other urgent questions and, as Reconstructionists, we still are on the forefront of addressing them.

In years past, The Reconstructionist magazine was the forum for dialoguing on and highlighting innovations. Today, our movement, Reconstructing Judaism, uses an online platform, http://evolve.reconstructingjudaism.org/, to address the urgent questions facing us. Just a few months ago, Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations, an initiative of Reconstructing Judaism, was launched. It includes seven urgent issues of our day:

·Why be Jewish? How do Jewish living and study make our lives richer and more meaningful?

·Harnessing Technology: How can we sanctify our on-line lives by acting according to our values? How can we use the resources on line to enrich our lives?

·Redefining Jewish Identity: Who is a Jew at this time of demographic disruption?

·Re-Imagining Jewish Communities: What are the structures and functions needed to serve the needs of Jews in the twenty-first century?

·Judaism and Race: How do we expand our image of Jews to include people of color, and how should Jews deal with systemic racism in America?

·Jewish Approaches to Justice Work: How do our Jewish values and heritage enrich and sustain our justice work?

·Constructive Conversations about Israel/Palestine: How do we move our communities toward constructive and meaningful conversations about Israel/Palestine? 

Multiple voices are brought together. The resources allow us to listen to one another’s points of view and to interact respectfully. The discussions are thoughtful and provocative. The goal remains the same as it has been in the past: to enhance the ongoing evolution of Jewish civilization.

My hope is that in the coming months we can come together to study some of the diverse opinions shared on these vital and challenging topics. Please take some time to look at the site for insightful essays and text resources. I look forward to continuing the conversations with you.