Recon Movement Sees Steady Growth

Though it's the youngest and smallest (in numbers) of the four branches of organized Judaism, the Reconstructionist movement is maintaining a steady growth in membership.

The Elkins Park-based Jewish Reconstructionist Federation just approved the applications of three new congregations – Kol Tzedek in West Philadelphia; Or Zarua in West Berkeley, Calif.; and Shir Hadash in St. Louis – at a board meeting last weekend.

And earlier this year, a Seattle synagogue also joined the congregational alliance.

In sum, the four additions represent an almost 4 percent increase from last year. The federation's tally of member synagogues now numbers 109.

This year's growth seems to be about constant with the previous two years. Three synagogues were added for 2003 and three for 2004, including one in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

Moreover, the movement purchased grounds for a summer camp in the Pocono Mountains. Named Camp JRF, it will open this summer.

According to Phill Goldberg, director of communications for the JRF, the organization has seen most of its growth in the Northeast and the Northwest of the United States, though affiliated congregations and chavurot exist in 29 states.

Goldberg said that by joining the federation, member organizations gain access to its consultants, various programs, rabbis, and discounted prayerbooks and other materials developed at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

"Our values are that we believe in community and the entire cultural legacy of the Jewish people," said Goldberg. "It's the culture of the Reconstructionist community, and the community building that we do, that is so exciting for our congregations."



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