The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College trains rabbis through its regular 5-year civilization program of studies, with each year devoted to a different period: biblical, rabbinic, medieval, modern, and contemporary. Through the Lavy M. Becker Department of Practical Rabbinics, the curriculum also includes extensive preparation in practical rabbinics, covering skills that will be needed in the field such as counseling, group work, and administration. Ethics courses cover a wide range of topics of current concern including biomedical ethics, business and economic ethics, ethics of speech, and sexual ethics.
Echoing Kaplan's devotion to "Klal Yisrael," or the whole community of Jews, and in response to specific issues, a number of the activities at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College are deliberately non- or pandenominational. This includes opportunities offered to students in the 5-year program to specialize in chaplaincy, including geriatric chaplaincy, or in campus work, education, or community organization. Alternatively, students may choose to pursue a joint masters degree in Jewish Education or Jewish Music through a cooperative arrangement with Gratz College.
The pandenominational work of the RRC includes a series of centers that offer opportunities for student internships as well as intellectual and programming resources for the broader Jewish world. The first of the centers to be founded is Kolot, The Center for Jewish Women's and Gender Studies. The intention of Kolot is to create new visions of gender roles in Jewish life by illuminating the traditions and texts of Judaism. Furthermore, Kolot aims to focus the best of contemporary scholarship on the real problems rabbis may encounter in the field, including domestic violence and breast cancer. Another highly successful, ongoing program developed by Kolot is called "Rosh Hodesh: It's A Girl Thing!" This experiential program strengthens the Jewish identity and self-esteem of adolescent girls through monthly celebrations of the New Moon festival.
The Center for Jewish Ethics focuses research and teaching in the area of ethics across a range of issues of concern in society today. Work is being completed in 2004 toward a third center at the RRC, to focus on aging. Launched in 2002 at a Reconstructionist Convention held in Montreal, Canada, the Noar Hadash (new youth) movement is being developed according to participatory Reconstructionist principles. Teenagers have been part of the planning process from the beginning and take pride in being the pioneers of a new movement and a new camp. The values of the movement include "spiritual peoplehood," the wisdom to be found in tradition, tikkun olam (repairing the world), the Hebrew language, involvement with Israel, and respect for the Earth. Honesty and questioning are encouraged, exploring how teenagers see God, both as Jews and as Americans or Canadians. At camp, the young people explore different historical periods on "Civilization Days" along with swimming, boating, canoeing, wall-climbing, artistic endeavors, and experiencing life in Jewish community full time.
Updated information on this and other programs and further background on Reconstructionism including audio resources, reading material, and bibliographies is available on the movement's excellent series of Web sites.