Membership Inquiries and Applications
The RRA welcomes membership inquiries from non-RRC graduates who meet the following descriptions
1. Rabbis who are graduates of rabbinical programs accredited by academic accrediting organizations and who have a Master's degree in Jewish studies or a related field may apply for RRA membership two years after their ordination/rabbinic graduation. A full list of accepted programs can be found in our membership guidelines here.
2. Rabbis who are graduates of rabbinical programs of other institutional rabbinical programs that fulfill the equivalent of the academic and practical rabbinic requirements of the RRC; who have a master's degree or Ph.D. in Jewish studies from a college or university accredited by an appropriate and recognized academic accrediting organization; and have served after ordination in a professional capacity in the Jewish community for at least two years after ordination, are eligible to apply for membership two years after being graduated as a rabbi. A full list of accepted programs can again be found in our membership guidelines here.
Criteria for Eligible Applicants
- Ordination from accepted programs as listed in our membership guidelines (see above).
- Familiarity and affinity with the core values of Reconstructionist Judaism.
- Commitment to Reconstructionist Judaism, its continued vibrancy, and ongoing unfolding.
- First-hand experience with Reconstructionist communities, knowledge of its institution and literature.
- Substantive study of Jewish texts, culture, and history, understood in the contexts of history and the contemporary world.
- Professional track record of strong, empathetic, socially aware leadership.
- Agreement to abide by RRA policies.
- Understanding of and agreement to uphold RRA Ethics Guidelines.
- Commitment to Jewish community and continuity in your personal, familial, and communal lives, engaging thoughtfully in Jewish practice and with respect for tradition.
If these criteria are met the following steps must be taken to complete an application to the RRA.
- A full membership application must be completed and sent to the chair of the RRA Membership Committee.
- Application will include a 3-5 page essay that provides a personal response to the listed "Criteria" including your experiences and connections with Reconstructionist rabbinic colleagues, affiliated congregations and havurot, familiarity with Reconstructionist literature; your relationship to the values of the Reconstructionist rabbinate and to its conception of the role of the rabbi; and commentary regarding your rabbinical goals.
- Three letters of recommendation must be submitted on behalf of the applicant, two of which must be from current RRA members.
- Please request that those writing reference letters address the following:
-The length of time and capacities in which they have known you.
-Your talents, abilities, potential, organization and communication skills, seriousness, and maturity and steadfastness in the face of prolonged and difficult work.
-Your vocational choice in relation to your personality, character, and commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people.
References can be emailed or mailed to the RRA (email@example.com or 1299 Church Rd, Wyncote, PA)
- Official transcripts (not copies) from academic institutions and seminaries must be sent to the Membership Committee.
- An interview with one or more members of the Membership Committee must be completed.
- Ultimately, applicants will need the approval of 2/3rds of the RRA Board.
More information and FAQ
What is Reconstructionism? You can learn about the core values and teachings of Reconstructionist Judaism on the Reconstructing Judaism website here.
What makes the RRA different? You can learn more about the mission of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association here.
What is the value of membership with the RRA? The RRA provides a wide variety of services for our members. Our office of rabbinic career development works with our members and offers an ongoing exchange of employment opportunities, placement advice, and hard-earned career wisdom. We also host a variety of events and programs for our members on a range of topics from continued Jewish learning to professional development. To learn more about the RRA explore our website and visit us on Facebook.
What is the procedure for membership to the RRA? A full outline of membership procedures can be found in our membership guidelines here.
What do I need to know before applying to the RRA?
Prospective candidates to the RRA are expected to be familiar with a catalog of basic introductory texts. A list of introductory Reconstructionist readings can be found below organized by topic. Compiled June 2019 by Membership Chair, Rabbi Bob Gluck
On Community/movement, Decision making, Theology/Prayer
- A brief introduction to Reconstructionism: from Reconstructing Judaism.
- Mordecai Kaplan, "Reconstruction—A Program," The Future of the American Jew, Chapter 2.
- Zeek magazine, special issue on Reconstructionist Judaism
Community and movement building in a post-denominational age
- Mordecai Kaplan, "The Significance of Being a People," The Future of the American Jew, Chapter 4.
Isabel De Koninck, "The Advantages of a Denomination," Zeek, Fall 2010.
"Despite becoming a "movement," Reconstructionism retains its commitment to Kaplan's belief that Judaism can never be institutionalized... Most significantly for progressive Jews, institutions allow our vision to be shared across broad geogra-phies and landscapes. This ability to organize and galvanize the power of our supporters and practitioners, no matter where they live, is what allows us to shape the future of the Jewish world." [note: the structure of this movement has changed subsequent to the publication of this article]
- Ben Weiner, "Reconstructing Yiddishkeit" Zeek, Fall 2010.
"I remain inspired by the primacy of community itself in his [Kaplan's] thought, and his awareness that Jewish authenticity is a matter of density and particularity – of drawing a critical mass into the project of creating Jewish meaning."
- Deborah Waxman, "A Reconstructionist Response to the Pew Study," Evolve.
"There is much work to be done to empower Jews to feel entitled to and responsible for their Judaism. A critical part of this work is encouraging Jewish leaders, communal and rabbinic, to accept and celebrate diverse expressions of Jewishness rather than policing them. If we embrace a non-Orthodox approach to Jewish life, then it is our responsibility to be excited about—or, at a minimum, be interested in—expressions of Judaism bubbling up from the people."
- Jane Rachel Litman, "Mitzvat Ahavat Erev Rav: Loving the Complexity of Our Identities," Evolve.
"Multiple identities among Jews is a fact of life. Many Jewish professionals and institutions are still catching up to this reality. Others are in the process of evolving to meet the challenge. Actively welcoming diverse Jews with multiple identities into decision-making positions is a good first step. It is important to stop punishing Jews and their beloveds who are part of mixed heritage families through subtle leadership or ritual exclusions. The key issue is encouraging serious and compelling Jewish identity (whatever form it takes) through active participation in Jewish collectivities, not in competition with other identities but in a complementary partnership.
Decision making in a post-halakhic age
- David Teutsch, "Reinvigorating the Practice of Jewish Ethics: A Justification for Values-Based Decision Making," The Reconstructionist 69:2, Spring 2005.
"The loss of that [premodern, self-governing Jewish] organic community. radically altered the course of Jewish life. Suddenly minhag and halakha were optional, not obligatory... Reinvigorating Jewish ethics is critical to the future of Jewish culture... But how can that be accomplished? What is the ground of moral life, and given the current nature of American Jewish life, what is a plausible moral decision-making process?"
- Sidney Schwarz, "Operating Principles For Reconstructionist Synagogues," January-February 1988.
- David Teutsch, "Attitudes, Beliefs and Values Shaping Jewish Practice," Evolve.
"Behind all Jewish practices are a range of reasons why. This extensive list provides an opportunity to identify and explore the "why" behind the "what."
- An example of Values Based Decision Making, as applied to synagogue dues (from Dorshei Tzedek, Newtown, MA).
Jewish theology and prayer in the 21st Century
- Toba Spitzer, "The Blessing of Uncertainty: Kaplan, God and Process," The Reconstructionist 70:1, Fall 2005.
"Kaplan based his discussion of God on two suppositions: that our belief in God stems not from logical inference or divine revelation, but from lived human experience; and, that we can come to some understanding of the true meaning of what we call "God" through an exploration of how belief in God is manifest in human life... [and] that our conception of God... must adapt and change as human consciousness and awareness develop over time."
- Jacob Staub, "Worship For Agnostics: Building a Personal Relationship With a Nonpersonal God," Zeek, Fall 2010.
- Bob Gluck, "Some Reflections on Reconstructionist Prayer," The Reconstructionist 66:2, Spring 2002.
An imagined conversation between rabbis, Reconstructionist and other, seeking to clarify what is core about Jewish prayer, followed by an overview of basic issues in Reconstrucitonist approaches to prayer.
- Jacob J. Staub, "God As a Source of Comfort," Reconstructionism Today 7:1, Fall 1999.
"Let's assume that we all agree, with Kaplan, that God is greater than the sum total of all natural, measurable phenomena, that God is more than a word we use to describe human virtue. When we say, for example, that we believe in a God who is the Power that makes for Lovingkindness, or that Lovingkindness is a Divine Predicate, then we mean both that God is made manifest when we act in lovingkindness and that God is the Source of our impulse to act in that way. We are not the only active principals in the partnership. God is the Source that inspires us to transcend our impulse to act in a purely self-interested way... How can you have a relationship with a God who is not a Person? I have many significant relationships with non-persons..."
Recommended Books for Study and Reference
- Emmanuel Goldsmith and Mel Scult, eds., Dynamic Judaism: The Essential Writings of Mordecai M. Kaplan, Schocken Books/Reconstructionist Press, 1985.
- Rebecca Alpert and Jacob Staub, Exploring Judaism: A Reconstructionist Approach, The Reconstructionist Press, 2000.