Reconstructionist Judaism Today

Reconstructionist Judaism matures under new leadership.

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He also plans to re‑emphasize tikkun olam, or social action, and establish a center for that purpose. He anticipates that both will be modeled on a current RRC center.

Kolot: The Center for Jewish Women's and Gender Studies runs as a semi‑autonomous entity, working both inside and outside of RRC. It has its own board and funding, and a small staff based at the college. Its academic director, Lori Hope Lefkowitz, is a professor of Jewish Women's and Gender Studies at RRC, teaching courses and influencing curriculum. Kolot also runs feminist Jewish programs in several cities for people who have nothing to do with the Reconstructionist movement.

If, as they say it is, the Reconstructionist movement represents the values shared by a majority of American Jews better than any other movement, why is it still so tiny?

"Not everybody is prepared to be part of the leading edge of Judaism," says Rabbi Stein. "A lot of people don't care about Judaism that much and don't want to have to think about it. Some people have called us the thinking person's Judaism. There's a whole range of rituals and behavior that are acceptable in Reconstructionist life, and that can be confusing for people. We're a very complex movement."

In the past, "the movement shied away from being in the mainstream in any number of ways," said Rabbi Stein. But now "the time has come for us to find our place at the table."

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Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Debra Nussbaum Cohen is a staff writer for The Jewish Week.