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Ira Eisenstein

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Rabbi Ira Eisenstein (1906 - June 28, 2001) founded Reconstructionist Judaism, along with Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, his teacher and, later, father-in-law through his marriage to Judith Kaplan, over a period of time spanning from the late 1920s to the 1940s. Reconstructionist Judaism formally became a distinct denomination within Judaism with the foundation of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1968, where he was the founding president.

A native of Manhattan, New York, Rabbi Eisenstein held a bachelor's degree from Columbia College and a doctoral degree from Columbia University. In 1931, he was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he first met and studied with Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism.

After his ordination, Rabbi Eisenstein became associate rabbi and then rabbi of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, the first Reconstructionist congregation, which Kaplan founded in 1922. He also served as religious leader of the Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago, as well as the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore on Long Island, N.Y.

A former president of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly of America, Rabbi Eisenstein served as president of the Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation from 1959 to 1970. From 1935 to 1981, he was editor of The Reconstructionist, the movement's magazine."

Alongside Rabbi Milton Steinberg and Rabbi Eugene Kohn he was one of Kaplan's main disciples.


  • Creative Judaism (1941)
  • The Ethics of Toleration Applied to Religious Groups in America(1941)
  • Judaism Under Freedom (1956)
  • What We Mean by Religion (1958)
  • Varieties of Jewish Belief (1966)
  • Reconstructing Judaism: An Autobiography (1986)


  • The Jewish Exponent, December 5, 2004
  • ""Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, 94, Dies; Led Reconstructionist Jews", New York Times, Sunday, July 1, 2001

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