Rabbi Deborah Waxman, who was appointed head of the Reconstructionist movement and president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC), the movement’s seminary, last year, is both the first woman and the first lesbian to lead a Jewish seminary and a major Jewish movement.
Rabbi Waxman, who is based in Wyncote, Pa., was in Toronto last month visiting the Reconstructionist synagogue Congregation Darchei Noam, where she met with congregants and discussed the future of the movement. She also attended the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association’s 40th annual convention, which was being held in Toronto.
The CJN spoke to her about social justice issues, intermarriage, the movement’s challenges and her sense of responsibility as its leader.
Can you describe the process that saw you become head of the movement?
I was appointed president by the board of the RRC in October 2013, officially began in the role in January 2014 and was inaugurated in October 2014.
In June 2012, the Reconstructionist movement moved beyond the classical denominational model and combined the congregational union with the leadership training institution that the college is, so now it’s one organization that works together as the agency responsible for promoting a Reconstructionist approach, fostering congregations and training leaders.