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Reconstructing Judaism

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An initiative of Reconstructing Judaism focused on online learning opportunities about Jewish topics that affect our daily lives. Yu can study with rabbis and teachers, as well as participate in rich discourse, create rituals, and connect with others wanting to do the same!


Letter from the RJ President

May 8, 2020


Dear Folks,

I hope that this email finds you and all your dear ones well. I’m writing with another update on some of the ways that we continue to provide resources and support at this challenging time.

Last month, we all celebrated Passover differently than ever before. In the lead-up to seder, we produced numerous resources for people to share Passover together over distance, among their family members and loved ones, and across the entire Reconstructionist community. We have been gratified by the popularity and impact of these resources.

  • On March 30, we launched Passover Connect on Facebook for people to share what the holiday means to them. We invited people to post whatever they liked — memories, recipes, traditions, photos, videos, music, etc. During Passover, more than 400 members offered up 1,700 posts, comments and reactions.
  • On March 31, we launched the Virtual Passover Box, which provided supplemental resources for seder. The 16-webpage feature garnered almost 17,000 pageviews. It also gained attention in the Jewish media, where it was featured by The New York Jewish Week, Jewish Exponent (Philadelphia) and eJewish Philanthropy.
  • On April 1, we made A Night of Questions, the Reconstructionist haggadah, freely available for download as a PDF. More than 2,700 people downloaded it for their virtual sedarim. We are grateful to the editors, Rabbis Joy Levitt and Michael Strassfeld, for agreeing to make this valued resource available in this way.

Beyond Passover, we are generating a variety of resources for this time.

  • Since March 13, we have been sending out a Virtual Shabbat Box, a gathering of curated multisensory resources to enhance Shabbat observance. As of today, May 8, it has gained almost 9,000 unique pageviews.
  • On March 24, we launched Recon Connect, a daily guide to live online events happening across the Reconstructionist movement. Anyone can choose which events they want to attend and click a link to register. Recon Connect had more than 1,500 unique pageviews.
  • Our extraordinary website, Ritualwell, continues to create and curate rich resources around the pandemic. There are now more than 80 original pandemic-related rituals, poems and reflections gathered together on the site. The site has had an increase of 15,000 views per month since the pandemic began. Ritualwell has also been offering a powerful series of writing workshops during the Omer that has attracted more than 600 participants.
  • Havaya@Home, an initiative of our summer camping programs, has offered an array of programs since mid-March, many of them designed to get kids up and moving during the shutdown.
  • Hashivenu: Jewish Teachings on Resilience has released several more episodes featuring pandemic-related discussions:
  • Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations also released a new podcast episode: Confronting Anti-Semitism and Racism with guest Rabbi Mordechai Liebling
  • Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Ph.D., penned this reflection, “Daf Yomi while sheltering in place,” published by Jewish News Syndicate
  • I was interviewed by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz in his web-based Valley Bet Midrash

We also re-imagined one of our most important face-to-face events, the Chesapeake region’s Annual Celebration and Day of Learning, which has been held for 28 years. We shifted what is normally a five-hour event into a series of live online events. We held the first event, a celebration of the honorees, on April 19. More than 160 people attended via Zoom and Facebook Live. The learning sessions are scheduled for Sundays through the end of May. If you would like a flavor of the April 19 event, including a video of the proceedings and the packed tribute journal, please click here. The learning events are open to everyone, and you are welcome to review the offerings and register here.

We are also doing a tremendous amount of network weaving. Our Thriving Communities department is working with congregational leaders and is also convening regular meetings of affinity groups — congregational presidents, executive directors, educators — to discuss various pertinent topics. They are also working in collaboration with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association to begin to imagine the High Holidays. The Reconstructionist plenum met last Sunday, with representatives from more than 50 Reconstructionist congregations, and shared ideas and best practices that they are finding most helpful at this time.

We are also in the planning stages for a movement-wide virtual celebration of Shavuot, “Celebrating @ Sinai.” The program will begin with a song fest welcoming the holiday and candle-lighting at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 28, and will continue with a tikkun leyl Shavuot, a full night of teaching, learning, movement and musical offerings that will go through the night, until Friday morning, May 29, at 7:30 a.m. PDT. Reconstructionist communities and individuals can join in a Zoom webinar or our Facebook livestream for as much or as little as they would like. Rabbis Michael Strassfeld, Sandy Sasso, Sid Schwarz, Arthur Waskow and poet Marsha Falk are among the folks who have already committed to teach. To register, please click here.

Many of our modalities have changed, but we continue to fulfill our core mission to cultivate and support Jewish living, learning and leadership for a changing world. I look forward to updating you again in the next few weeks as we continue to respond in creative and meaningful ways to our changing world.

Shabbat shalom and take good care!


Rabbi Deborah Waxman | President
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
215.576.0800 ext. 129

Reconstructing Judaism | Deeply Rooted. Boldly Relevant.



Thu, October 28 2021 22 Cheshvan 5782