One Community, Two Choices
Two special kehillot share our facility in Northwest Bergen County: Temple Israel, an Egalitarian Conservative congregation, and Reconstructionist Congregation Beth Israel.
An Affiliate of United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism (USCJ)
The Conservative movement has often been described as “the middle ground” between the strict view of Orthodox and the liberal approach of Reform Judaism. As such, it represents the passionate and engaged center of the Jewish People. At home in both the legacy of the Jewish historical experience and modernity, Conservative Judaism strives to convey and communicate a deep commitment to the values, concepts and rituals inherent in our literature, laws and traditions. It is equally committed to the hallmarks of a democratic Western culture such as individual rights, freedoms and protections; social and economic justice; and concern for the environment. These enrich and deepen our Jewish practice and identity.
While the movement is guided by a belief in the sacred nature of Jewish law, its strength lies in the interpretation of Jewish law for contemporary life. Decisions rendered by the movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards have redefined acceptable Jewish practice in our time that have affected multiple areas of life: same-sex marriage; driving to synagogue on Shabbat; the ordination of women; and counting women in a minyan are just several examples of changes that have been brought about by the movement’s legal decisors—Conservative rabbis and scholars. The dual embrace of modernity and tradition by Conservative Judaism is the spirit that animates life at Temple Israel and is why our doors are wide open to everyone who wants to embark on or continue the Jewish journey. We offer multiple points of entry, beginning with our welcoming, inclusive approach to worship and ritual practice, as you’ll discover.
Reconstructionist Congregation Beth Israel (RCBI)
An affiliate of Jewish Reconstructionist Communities/Reconstructing Judaism
The Reconstructionist movement is the only one of the four mainstream branches of Judaism founded in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. It is a small movement that has had an outsized impact on all forms of progressive Judaism. Among our most recognized innovations were the introduction of the bat mitzvah and a rejection of the supernatural origin of Torah. Since 1984, RRC has admitted and allowed the ordination of openly gay, bisexual, and lesbian rabbis, the first major rabbinic seminary to do so. Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president of Reconstructing Judaism (the central organization of the Reconstructionist movement), is the first female rabbi and first lesbian to lead a Jewish congregational union, and the first woman and first lesbian to lead a Jewish seminary. The intellectual father of Reconstructionism, Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, viewed Judaism as the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish People. Each generation is responsible for guiding that evolution in order to meet the needs of contemporary Jews. Rabbi Kaplan promoted democracy in the synagogue community and respect for the religious opinions of individuals. You’ll find that spirit embodied in the worship and ritual practices of RCBI, where every member’s spiritual journey and insights are honored and valued.