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Religious movement which attempts to reinterpret Judaism in modern terms without abandoning its cultural values and usages. Reconstructionism began to emerge as a movement in 1934 under the leadership of Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881-1983). Kaplan believed that Judaism is a “religious civilization” emerging from the language, history, customs, laws, religion, art, and folkways of the Jewish people. This civilization and the basic values it embodies can be perpetuated only through social institutions in which these entities continue to be meaningful to the individuals who participate in them. Reconstructionism has therefore striven for the organization of closely integrated Jewish communities in the U.S. Because it also believes that Jewish nationalism is a part of Judaism, it stresses the ties between the State of Israel and Jewish communities in the Diaspora. In religion, it is close to Reform Judaism in its call for a reexamination of religious beliefs and to Conservative Judaism in its desire to preserve as many forms of religious practice as possible. Its work has been conducted through the Reconstructionist Foundation formed in 1940. Its periodical, The Reconstructionist, has served the movement as a forum since 1935.

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