Beliefnet
America's smallest and most liberal Jewish movement has appointed a New Jersey rabbi to head the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz, 40, will become the seminary's fifth president in July, serving as the school's first alumnus and nonacademic in the post. He is currently the spiritual leader of Congregation B'nai Keshet in Montclair, N.J.

The Reconstructionist movement, with about 100 congregations in the United States, was formed in the 1930s by Conservative Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan. The movement dubs itself an "evolving religious civilization" that embraces progressive causes and the "universal values" of Judaism. Ehrenkrantz was picked from an initial field of 50 candidates, and seminary officials say his appointment reflects the growing respectability of the movement.

"As the first RRC alumnus to be named president, Rabbi Ehrenkrantz's appointment marks a coming of age for the Reconstructionist movement he has so ably served his entire professional life," said Donald L. Shapiro, chairman of the seminary's board who headed the search process.

Ehrenkrantz, a 1989 seminary graduate, graduated from Tufts University and has also studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Yeshiva University in New York. He has served as a visiting professor at the seminary, teaching classes in biblical narrative, poetry and challenges of the rabbinate. "Dan's dedication to the congregational rabbinate and deep understanding of both its challenges and its joys make him ideally suited to guide RRC," Shapiro said.

Ehrenkrantz will succeed Rabbi David Teutsch as president, who is stepping down to do more teaching at the seminary. Ehrenkrantz's appointment helps fill a void in Jewish leadership -- Rabbi David Ellenson was appointed last year to lead the Reform movement's central seminary, while the Orthodox movement is still searching to replace retiring seminary president Rabbi Norman Lamm.

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