Reconstructionist movement


Reconstructionist movement (ree-kuhn-STRUHK-shun-ist MOOV-mint) listen


  • n. The youngest and smallest Jewish denomination which views Judaism as an evolving religion that reinterprets traditions in response to modern times.

Example Sentences

  • "I've attended reform services out of curiosity and even talked with the student rabbi about convers. But I'm more interested in reconstructionist. An issue I've found is that I live almost 2 hours away from the nearest reconstructionist congregation." (source)

Languages of Origin

  • English

Who Uses This

  • Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements


  • North America


  • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
  • Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).

Alternative Spellings



  • "One of the four movements with which most North American Jews identify themselves, the Reconstructionist movement is the youngest and smallest Jewish denomination. It was founded by Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan in 1935...Reconstructionists are committed to protecting tradition while preserving contemporary meaning; they emphasize individual responsibility over commandments. Reconstructionist theology holds that the Torah was not revealed by God at Mount Sinai; but rather it and other sacred texts are the creation of the Jewish people over time. God is not a supernatural being who knows the mind of each individual, but the source of high ideals and virtues inside each human being.

    The Reconstructionist prayer book has no references to Jews as the Chosen People and avoids all notions of a personal Messiah; it speaks instead of a Messianic Age. Men and women participate equally during services, in education, and in Jewish rituals; Reconstructionists developed the Bat Mitzvah ceremony. Their services are similar to Conservative ones, with the addition of some creative readings. The movement is committed to support the State of Israel and Jews around the world, and members participate in social action and in interreligious programs in their local communities. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College is its rabbinical school; Reconstructionist congregations generally belong to the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation." (JPS)

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