The American movement, with branches elsewhere, founded by Mordecai Kaplan with a view to revitalizing Judaism in the modern world. The central idea of Reconstructionism is that Judaism is more than a religion in the narrow sense but is a religious civilization, with its own art, music, literature, culture, and folk-ways. Although Reconstructionists like Milton Steinberg were believers in the Personal God of traditional Judaism, the movement generally follows Kaplan's naturalistic interpretation in which God is ‘the power that makes for salvation’. Moreover, ‘salvation’ in this context does not mean of the soul in the Hereafter but of the Jewish people on earth through the enrichment of Jewish life that is the result of an acceptance of Jewish values and their dynamic adaptation to the new conditions in which Jews now find themselves. At first Kaplan thought of the movement as one cutting across the usual divisions in Jewish life between Orthodoxy, Conservative, and Reform Judaism. But, while all three branches have been greatly influenced by Kaplan's ideas, their followers preferred to develop their own philosophies of Judaism. Kaplan's religious naturalism was far from being to everyone's religious taste. Reconstructionism has now developed as a fourth movement with its own seminary for the training of Reconstructionist Rabbis, the Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, founded in 1957. A small number of Reconstructionist synagogues have also been established but Reconstructionist Rabbis serve in Reform and Conservative congregations as well. Founded in 1935, the journal The Reconstructionist is devoted to the philosophy of Reconstructionism.
Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.