Reconstructionists Look for Leader To Weather Challenging Time

Dan Ehrenkrantz’s Resignation Leaves Movement in Limbo

At a Crossroads: Reconstructionist Judaism has recently revamped its institutions in a bid for long-term sustainability. So why is its top leader leaving the fold?
courtesy of rrc
At a Crossroads: Reconstructionist Judaism has recently revamped its institutions in a bid for long-term sustainability. So why is its top leader leaving the fold?

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published March 31, 2013, issue of April 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 4)

The congregational arms of the Conservative and Reform movements have faced crises of their own in recent years as disgruntled groups of powerful rabbis in each movement have rebelled against the management of the congregational umbrellas.

The Reconstructionists have avoided such internal splits. But insiders say that the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, the movement’s congregational arm, was badly damaged and short on funds by 2011, when merger talks began.

“It was clear to me that JRF was not doing a good enough job at helping grow the congregational side of the movement,” said Rosen, the Evanston Reconstructionist rabbi.

The RRC, meanwhile, was seen as well-managed and efficient. It also had money in the bank. Just prior to the 2008 crash, Ehrenkrantz had led a successful fundraising campaign that served to shore up the institution, drawing $50 million in donations. That let the RRC ride out the recession in relative comfort. It also made it possible for the school to effectively take in the JRF, with its mounting financial crisis.

The RRC’s board approved a merger with the JRF in February 2011. Ehrenkrantz, the head of the RRC, would lead the newly merged institution. Negotiations and various layers of approval meant that the final reorganization was not fully approved by both organizations until June 2012.

According to RRC spokeswoman Eileen Fisher, the merger still isn’t technically complete. “There is no formal merger yet,” Fisher wrote in an email, saying that some technical steps remained.

“Its kind of in its embryonic stage right now,” said Rabbi Marc J. Margolius, spiritual leader of West End Synagogue, a Reconstructionist congregation in Manhattan, of the merger. “Since it’s never been done, it’s going to take a little bit of time to see how the experiment plays out.”

That might seem to make Ehrenkrantz’s departure all the more perilous. But Rabbi David Teutsch, who leads the RRC’s Center for Jewish Ethics and was Ehrenkrantz’s predecessor as president of the RRC, is unconcerned.

“The merger has gone well,” he told the Forward. “The processes that are taking place this late in the game are mostly about fine-tuning.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.