Celebrating Israel- Reconstructing Zionism : Mordecai Kaplan believed that nowhere else could Jews live so completely a Jewish life as in Israel. However, because not all Jews intend or even desire to emigrate to Israel - nor did Kaplan believe that there is an imperative to do so - he envisioned that Jewish communities around the world ought to be interdependent. Such a relationship to Israel and to Jewish communities around the world, maintains Israel as central to our historical self definition and affirms our identity as a nation within the global family.
One of the core principles as a Reconstructionist community is the support of Israel's right to exist as an independent nation, which includes both advocating on behalf of policies and needs in Israel, as well as challenging policies if they contradict other sacred values. Because of the emotional complexity of dealing with Israel, opportunities for real dialogue and discussion of the critical issues facing the Jewish homeland have suffered. Such discussion will also, we hope, help promote our movement's active support of a Jewish state that is secure and living at peace with its neighbors, a place where democracy and pluralism can flourish. This goal comes directly out of our movement's support and love of Israel, as well as out of our commitment to Jewish values of peace and justice.
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Adina Newberg, Ph.D., is a member of the faculty at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She is organizational consultant and a researcher for non profit organizations, particularly religious organizations in the USA and in Israel. Her current research interests focus on issues of contemporary religious organizations and spiritual journeys of those who participate in them in Israel.
Newberg;s research examines and follows the emergence of pluralistic houses of studies and prayer communities there. These are places where participants combine exploration and deep connection to Jewish tradition and Jewish sources with social action and concern for social justice, at the same time maintaining their identity as nonobservant, pluralistic Israelis. Newberg spent a year studying in one such house of study-Elul in Jerusalem during her sabbatical year.
Newberg studied for her Bachelor of Arts at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and holds a doctorate in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania.
Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit, www.rabbizevit.com is a congregational consultant and Director of Outreach and Tikkun Olam for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. He is the Co-Director of the award-winning Davennen Leaders Training Institute and is a spiritual director for many clergy. A recording artist he has also written and developed resources in the areas of Community Building, Leadership, Prayer, Contemporary views of GOD, Jewish Men's issues ("Brother Keepers: New Essays in Jewish Masculinity), and Money and Jewish values ("Offerings of the Heart: Values-Based Approaches to Money in Faith Community". Rabbi Zevit moved to Cleveland in 2009 to be with his wife Simcha and family, continuing his work for JRF from there.