In this speech, Strassfeld addresses many issues relating to a Reconstructionist approach to spirituality. He also outlines his own journey, which goes from rejecting Hasidic texts to embracing them. He lauds a Reconstructionist "anti-fundamentalist" approach which asks its adherents to embrace life's unknown and not need or desire singular answers. Text and audio of this speech are both available for download.
This speech was given at the opening plenum of JRF's 41st convention held in Philadelphia in November of 2006. The overall topic for the plenum was Reconstructionism for the 21st Century: Aspirations, Expectations and Innovations. Rabbis Richard Hirsh, Les Bronstein, and Toba Spitzer were the other participants on the panel.
We are, I believe, the anti-fundamentalists. And I don't mean a particular political and social and religious point of view. What I mean is that there is a kind of idolatry that says, “what this position is, is the position of truth and everything else is less than that.” We, as Reconstructionists, I believe, are happy to live—maybe not happy to live—but are willing to live with intentions of conflicting truths. We do live in two civilizations; in fact we live in multiple civilizations. I think we should enjoy, we should be willing to celebrate the tension of living with that tension, of not being sure of the truth, of not being certain. Kaplan said it well:From the cowardice that shrinks from new truths, from the laziness that is content with half-truths, from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, Oh God of Truth, deliver us.
The audio version is 17 minutes.