fbpx Reconstructing Judaism is Not Free to Desist | Reconstructing Judaism

Reconstructing Judaism is Not Free to Desist


The following is a statement by Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D, president of Reconstructing Judaism, and Seth Rosen, chair of the Board of Governors. 

Reconstructing Judaism is fully committed to building an anti-racist Jewish community. We state firmly and unequivocally that Black Lives Matter, and that working tirelessly to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter is a Jewish value.

We are deeply grateful to Not Free to Desist for the direction offered to Jewish organizations, and for so clearly challenging us to translate statements and intentions into meaningful and transformative action. As leaders of Reconstructing Judaism, the central organization of the Reconstructionist movement, we commit ourselves to the Community Obligations articulated by Not Free to Desist. We have signed on to the open letter as individuals, as have the members of the senior staff of Reconstructing Judaism. We will share the Community Obligations with our board, our staff, our faculty, our students and our affiliated communities as part of our ongoing efforts to make racial justice a pillar of our movement.

While we have long-standing organizational racial justice commitments, we recognize the importance of developing more specific benchmarks for racial equity, diversity, and inclusion within our organization and, by extension, our movement. We appreciate that benchmarks create accountability and we are committed to holding Reconstructing Judaism accountable in our pursuit of racial justice and equity. We are already hard at work in most of the areas raised in the Not Free to Desist obligations. We are refraining from signing on organizationally at this time because we cannot in good faith assure that we will meet all of these specific benchmarks in the next three years.

The obligations set out by Not Free to Desist will be the starting point for our conversations as we continue the work of generating new racial justice benchmarks that are both ambitious and achievable within the mission and programs of Reconstructing Judaism. The generation of new benchmarks for Reconstructing Judaism will be led by Jews of Color in our movement so that we can make the goals meaningful for us as an organization and meaningful for Reconstructionist communities. Specifically, we will work with the movement-wide Tikkun Olam Commission, which is sponsored jointly with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and which, in January 2020, adopted racial justice as its primary focus, and with our emerging Jews of Color and Allies Advisory Board, which is in formation. We will follow their lead in governance and planning discussions and in funding commitments. We look forward to reporting on these benchmarks and, more to the point, on our progress toward fulfilling them and creating a world and a Jewish community that is more full of justice and equity and love.

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D.
Reconstructing Judaism

Seth Rosen
Chair, Board of Governors
Reconstructing Judaism


Related Resources

News and Blogs

Responding to antisemitism by growing community, deepening commitments and building coalitions

On Sunday Oct. 28, 2018 — one day after the deadliest day in American Jewish history — I mourned with members of Congregation Dor Hadash. The Pittsburgh Reconstructionist congregation met in the Tree of Life building and had lost one of its own, Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz (z”l). Another member, Dan Leger, clung to life. Virtually every member of the congregation had gathered in solidarity. People were understandably raw, numb and devastated. Yet, in their commitment to mutual support, I was reminded of the awesome power of Jewish community to cultivate resilience in the face of pain and threat, including violent antisemitism.

In these polarized times, discourse over how best to confront antisemitism has often been visceral and sometimes taken on hyperbolic tones. At Reconstructing Judaism, we believe there are several steps toward a vigorous and constructive fight against rising antisemitism.

News and Blogs

'A Beat to Which We All Can Move’: A Call to Jews to Embrace the Pursuit of Racial Justice

From its very beginnings, the Jewish story is full of journeys. When it comes to racial justice work, the Reconstructionist movement is in the midst of a profound journey.

News and Blogs

Jews, Race, and Religion: An Online Lecture Series

Jewish experience offers a valuable entryway into the study of race. Jewish identities and experience complicate conceptions that are overly simplistic or that lack nuance. Jewish history illuminates both the difficulty and the imperative of grappling with race and racism. To deepen our understanding of race, we have organized a series of online talks that will bring leading scholars of race, religion and Jewish life to a broad public.


Addressing Race as a Jewish Community

As a time to take responsibility for communal wrongs, Yom Kippur calls us to learn about and grapple with issues of race in America.