Although leaders of synagogues, federations and other Jewish organizations prepare constitutions and keep them up-to-date, the documents themselves are rarely examined. This is unfortunate, because American Jewish constitutions are often carefully prepared and highly revealing documents that, properly interpreted, can shed light on significant aspects of American Jewish life. This is the opening chapter of a book that marks a preliminary foray into this uncharted territory. This chapter has four section. Section one sketches the early history of American Jewish constitutionalism, with particular attention to the impact of the Constitution of the United States, signed in 1787 and ratified one year later. Section two examines several constitutions in greater detail to shed light on how they mix American and Jewish elements. Section three looks at how selected American Jewish constitutions have both exposed and responded to communal concerns and problems. Finally, section four offers several generalizations regarding long-term patterns of change in American Jewish constitutions, and what they may mean.