Our tradition instructs us: From the day you bring the sheaf of wave-offering, you shall keep count until seven full weeks have taken place. This is the time of counting. From the second night of Passover until Shavuot—the time of receiving the Torah, we count, day after day for 49 days. Sefirat HaOmer, the counting of the Omer. read more »
The Omer is not one of the most widely observed Jewish practices, yet I think it is one of the most profound and meaningful. There is something about taking some time in the darkness of the evening to mark the passing of time that resonates powerfully. It is an opportunity to bring a consciousness to our transition from our being avdei Pharoah—servants of Pharoah—to avdei Hashem —servants of a Higher Power.
I am entirely unequal to giving anything like adequate expression to the feelings that well up in my heart at the thought that the war in Europe is at an end. If only it were like waking up from a terrible nightmare! read more »
But unfortunately the unspeakable atrocities committed by the insane murderers are too real to disappear with the break of the dawn, and the living victims of the war are too much part of our own lives to be forgotten.
Audio and written versions of the speech and Rabbi Potemkin's introduction are available. A one-paragraph excerpt is also provided.
Rabbi Spitzer has received much attention as the first gay or lesbian head of a rabbinical association. She meakes reference to this attention in speech, welcoming it.
Reconstructionism Today's latest issue (Winter, 2007) is now available online and is attached to this post. Detailed coverage of the JRF convention held in November is included. The full texts of talks given by Rabbis Richard Hirsh, Toba Spitzer, Michael Strassfeld and Lester Bronstein are printed in the volume.
Other articles of note include Reconsidering Reconstructionist Liturgy by Dan Cedarbaum and Art Goes to Shul by RT editor Lisa Tuttle.
Monday July 13, 1936 read more »
The main difficulty in effecting the transition from the anthropomorphic to a rational conception of God could be overcome, it seems to me, by the following approach: accustom yourself to the thought that the reality of God cannot be grasped by any effort at visualization.
January 29, 1935 read more »
How little the Seminary authorities have any idea of the religious unrest among the very men who are studying for the rabbinate! Could they imagine for a moment that in a class at the Seminary there could go on the kind of discussion that went on during the hour in Homiletics this afternoon. In discussing the outline I had given them on "Humanism is not enough" I was bombarded with questions as to why I insist upon retaining the name of God in the ethical pattern of thought. The usual arguments about the misconceptions in the minds of those who hear it used were advanced with a great deal of clarity and force by the best men in the class.
A speech delivered by Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer at the 2006 Reconstructionist Rabbinical Convention has just been added to the JRF Resources database.
Here is a brief quote from the speech.
Reconstructionism teaches that each of our civilizations is not in its essence either peaceful or dangerous. In its essence each is the product of centuries of history and changing still. The truth is that our own civilization is made up of strands of ideas some of which are light and some of which are very dark. This idea is sobering, liberating and ultimately hopeful. It means being honest and also, sometimes, courageous in naming what is problematic.
Related reading can be found in the four speeches (text and audio available) of the plenary of the November, 2006 JRF Convention.
[Though Reconstructionist Jews aren't famous for attesting to miracles, I don't know how else to describe this: Mordecai Kaplan has registered at this web site and posted an article. Wow! :> Dr. Mel Scult, Kaplan's biographer, has already posted a comment. Ed.]
January 22, 1939.
It seems to be that unless we can identify some basis for faith within accessible experience of the average person, life is bound to lose all worth and meaning. read more »
The fact is that before a person can have faith in human life as a whole he must first have faith in himself. We put the cart before the horse if we want to find reason for faith in mankind before we have cultivated any genuine ground for faith in ourselves. The problem of faith can be met only if we go about it the other way around. If upon looking into our own souls we become aware of something in us which, if universalized, would render life as a whole worthwhile, then we cannot be mistaken. The only thing of which that can be true is love and good will.
The opening plenum of JRF's 41st Convention was called Reconstructionism for the 21st Century: Aspirations, Expectations and Innovations. Below are the talks delivered by the four rabbis on the plenum. Text and audio versions are available for each presentation.read more »