‘Dismantling Racism from the Inside Out’

When it comes to combating systemic racism, everyone has something to learn.

That’s one reason why faculty members at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College are engaging in a year-long process — one rooted in the Jewish practice of Mussar — to confront anti-Black racism in themselves and the college environment.

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Charlton Heston as Moses, arms spread wide, holding his staff as the sky storms.

Reconstructionist Rabbi Featured in Netflix Moses Docudrama Series

When Rabbi Maurice Harris set out to write a book about Moses, he never could have imagined where that work would lead.

Now, more than a decade later, Harris is heavily featured in the new Netflix docudrama, Testament: The Story of Moses. The show, which dropped on March 27, is among the streaming platform’s first forays into religion programing. The three-part hybrid-documentary series explores Moses’ story from Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives. It intersperses dramatic scenes with actors and interviews with scholars, academics and theologians.

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Participants in a grief retreat sit in a circle inside a yurt

The Auerbach Launch Grant: An Invitation to Experiment and Create

Rabbi Nicole Fix (RRC ’23) is using avant-garde musical theater to bring the Talmud to the stage — and sound a warning on the dangers of present-day extremism. Chloe Zelkha, a fourth-year RRC student, is building community for young adults grieving the loss of a parent, partner, sibling or close friend.

While the two projects might at first glance sound dissimilar, they share much in common. Both engage with young Jewish adults who may lack

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Lila Corwin Berman

Power to Which People? American Jewish Philanthropy & Democracy

The fellowship is meant to honor of the work of two retired faculty member: Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, RRC ‘85, who started RRC’s social justice organizing program, and Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Ph.D., RRC ‘82, who pioneered the college’s approach to multifaith studies.

As part of the fellowship, Plevan also will be taking part in a March 20 panel discussion, “Democracy and Judaism: Does One Need the Other to Thrive?”, organized by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, the Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood and A More Perfect Union: Jewish Partnership for Democracy (register here.) Democracy comes up in many of Plevan’s classes at RRC, particularly a course examining democracy and Jewish sources. He said to expect fall programming in advance of the 2024 elections.

Taken together, the fellowship will explore and champion how Reconstructionism teaches that participatory democracy is vital for religious flourishing.

“For many people, religious pluralism means keeping religion outside of the public realm,” said Plevan. “That wasn’t Kaplan’s view at all. He taught that what a thriving democracy needs is having different kinds of peoples and traditions and ideas contributing to public life.”

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Rabbi Marissa Elana James demonstrates in the snow in Center City Philadelphia carrying a sign that reads "no more harassment at work."

Course Spotlight: Rabbis in Social Movements

When Rabbi Alex Weissman applied to rabbinical school in 2011, he estimates that there were just a handful of rabbis working at social-justice organizations. Fast-forward a dozen years and that number now exceeds several dozen — too many for Weissman to name.

Why the dramatic shift? Many advocacy organizations now recognize the role that clergy can play in helping activists maintain spiritual and emotional health. (Burnout is all too common among people trying to fix a broken world.) Additionally, many progressive organizations have sought to reclaim the moral, prophetic voice, refusing to surrender the religious label to political and cultural conservatives, says Weissman.

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Shira Singelenberg pictured outside the RRC building

Shir Hadash chosen for new rabbinic internship program

Shira Singelenberg is a native of Bethesda, Md. She said she grew up in an environment that fostered curiosity and questioning and one in which Shabbat dinner was a revered and memorable time. She received her BA degree from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, where she majored in history with a minor in medieval and early studies.

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RRC Graduate Wins Covenant Award

Rabbi Tamara R. Cohen, ‘14 has received a prestigious 2023 Covenant Award which honors groundbreaking and influential Jewish educators. According to the Covenant Foundation’s announcement, this year’s recipients are “meeting a complex moment in Jewish communal history with a powerful blend of courage, commitment, and compassion.”

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The Reconstructionist Network

Serving as central organization of the Reconstructionist movement

Training the next generation of groundbreaking rabbis

Modeling respectful conversations on pressing Jewish issues

Curating original, Jewish rituals, and convening Jewish creatives

The Reconstructionist Network