About Reconstructionist Judaism
At its inception, Congregation Shir Hadash chose to affiliate with the Reconstructionist movement, thereby identifying itself with the principles and values it represents. These values are expressed in our liturgy. For example, we don’t ask for the blessing of peace for only the Jewish people but expand the blessing for all who dwell on the earth, recognizing our lives are interwoven with all those around us.
Our prayer book includes Hebrew prayers that have come down to us from our ancestors as well as creative English interpretations, poetry, commentaries, and kavanot that add meaning and resonance. We believe Judaism is an evolving religious civilization, so our music, prayers, and readings give expression to the questions, fears, and yearnings of our time and place.
We reject the concept of Jews as the chosen people, respecting the diversity of each religion and culture for its unique contribution to the global community while finding meaning and value in our distinctly Jewish traditions, practices, and language. We explore concepts of God beyond the idea of an omniscient and omnipotent being and beyond gender; our liturgy interprets God's four letter name as the myriad forces and experiences that are often attributed to the concept of the Divine. We observe Shabbat and holidays, study Jewish texts and traditions, and engage in acts of justice and kindness, often with a contemporary and universal approach. Reconstructionist Judaism acknowledges that we live simultaneously in two civilizations - Jewish and secular/American - which inform one another.
The Reconstructionist Movement was founded on gender equality and is committed to inclusivity within its institutions and congregations. It was the first to hold a bat mitzvah ceremony in the synagogue, nearly 100 years ago. Its rabbinical school welcomed women from the outset and was the first to ordain gays and lesbians as rabbis. Reconstructionist Judaism has also been at the forefront of integrating non-Jewish family members into the life and leadership of the Jewish community and removing barriers to the rabbinate for individuals in relationships with non-Jews.