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Recon Lab Shabbat: Belonging and Yahrtzeit of Mordecai Kaplan, z"l

Saturday, November 14, 2020 27 Cheshvan 5781

10:00 AM - 11:30 AMZoom:


Join Hal Aqua, Risa Aqua, Laurie Cohn, Debbie Goodman, Pat Madsen, and Ed Towbin for this month’s Recon Lab Shabbat experience. 

This Shabbat, we'll embark on a series of discussions on the relevance of Mordecai Kaplan's ideas for reconstructing American Judaism. This month's topic, in commemoration of Kaplan's yahrzeit: "Belonging." 

In addition to the discussion, we'll join in rousing songs and reconstructed prayers, including a themed meditative Amidah, a healing prayer and a Mourner's Kaddish.


Havurah Ben Tzion will sponsor the virtual online Oneg Shabbat in honor of Eli Reshotko's 90th birthday.

All are welcome to stay on Zoom after the service to visit with one another and wish Eli a happy birthday in Shmooze Rooms.

Here's an excerpt from a recent article in The Forward about Kaplan's relevance to this moment.


What does it actually mean to belong to the Jewish community? What would an online membership look like? We are living through an information revolution, where the rules around content – be it music, movies, news, or anything else – are all being rewritten. Why should we think religious content is any different? What can synagogues learn from Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon? How are we the same? How are we different? As long as human beings are human, we will thirst for community, but how we go about getting it is not a given. These are questions, to be sure, that long preceded this moment, but COVID has made them unavoidable. How are communities formed, defined, and funded? It is a complex conversation with lots of moving parts, but it is one we must have.

Digging deeper, we know that the question of belonging is not only about membership but about a profound transformation at the core of our being. In Kaplan’s day there were internal and external forces at play asserting if you were born a Jew, then you lived as a Jew and you died as a Jew. Today the Jewish community is far more porous; it is a time when seventy percent of non-Orthodox Jews will marry someone not born of the Jewish faith, if they marry at all. We seek to be as inclusive as possible, but if a community has no boundaries, then at what point does it stop being a community? Kaplan never had to deal with BDS, intersectionality, Black Lives Matter, or an Israeli government whose policies were at odds with many American Jews but in sync with an American president. Tribalism is clearly not going away soon, but Kaplan’s language of “Peoplehood,” is insufficient for the complexities of our time. Our language of belonging must be different.

We hope to see you on Zoom!

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Wed, December 2 2020 16 Kislev 5781