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Reconstructionist Ritual ‘guide’ Alters Many Orthodox Practices

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The Reconstructionist Foundation, the religious movement founded by Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan with adherents among Conservative and Reform Jewry, and dedicated to “the advancement of Judaism as a religious civilization, ” today issued its “Guide to Jewish Ritual.”

Dr. Ira Eisenstein, president of the Foundation, noted that the Guide, which deals with home devotions, the Sabbath, festivals, High Holy Days, public worship, personal occasions and dietary laws, is not a code. He said that “those who were responsible for preparing it do not submit it as infallible and hence unalterable.”

Among the features of the Guide are the recognition of the full equality for women in ritual matters, the abolition of the traditional distinction between the Cohen (priest) and other Jews, “the recognition of diversity in ritual as legitimate under conditions of modern life, ” and the stress upon affirmative usages rather than on prohibitions.

The Guide advises: refraining from smoking on the Sabbath in Jewish institutions or where the act could offend other Jews; omission of foods forbidden in the Bible but disregard of regulations about pots and pans outside the home; disregard of the traditional Orthodox ban on Sabbath travel as “not a violation” when the travel is for the purpose of synagogue worship or Joining one’s family at meals.

With regard to public worship, the Guide declares that “The text of the prayerbook should omit those prayers which do not represent the sincere convictions of the worshipers. ” It recommends the omission of prayers for the restoration of the Temple, of animal sacrifices, prayers affirming belief in a personal Messiah, in bodily resurrection and in the Jews as a Chosen People.

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