In this short excerpt from the essay “Exploring Judaism: A Reconstructionist Approach,” Shabbat candle lighting is expounded on as an example of the importance of ritual within Reconstructionist Judaism. Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern Jewish movement that views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization in its ongoing relationship with God. From Barry Schwartz’s book “Jewish Theology: A Comparative Study,” this excerpt is particularly helpful for those looking to understand the importance of ritual in Reconstructionist Judaism or who simply want to diversify their practice with new ideas. Barry L. Schwartz is director of The Jewish Publication Society in Philadelphia and rabbi of Congregation Adas Emuno in Leonia, NJ.
The Candle Lighting Ritual in Reconstructionist Judaism
Alpert and Staub offer the lighting of the Sabbath candles as an example of the abiding significance of ritual. Not only do the candles symbolize the special nature of the Sabbath, they also express the different meanings Jews have attached to them throughout the ages. Some see the light as an invocation of God’s presence. Others look upon the candle lighting as ushering in the added soul, or dimension of spirituality, associated with the Sabbath. Today many point to the way in which observing this ritual brings families together.
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