Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. v-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

The academic study of Judaica has undergone a remarkable efflorescence in America during the last twenty years_ The dream of the pioneers of Wissenschaft des ]udentums in the early nineteenth century that Judaica would become accepted into the curriculum and research program of great universities has largely come to pass...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

The idea for a book evaluating Kaplan's thought and laying the groundwork for a new assessment of his importance emerged from the conference entitled Mordecai M. Kaplan: A Reappraisal, organized by the editors for the joseph and Ceil Mazer Institute for Research and Advanced Study in judaica of the Graduate School...

Contributors

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pp. xv-xviii

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Introduction: Kaplan and Jewish Modernity

Robert M. Seltzer

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pp. 1-16

Does "modernity" designate a distinct and novel stage in the history of Judaism? Mordecai M. Kaplan, the foremost advocate of the intentional modernization of Judaism in twentieth-century America, would certainly concur. Dedicated to the survival of the Jewish people and confident of the abiding value of religion, Kaplan had no doubts...

Part One: Contexts

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1. Kaplan and the Retrieval of the Haskalah

Emanuel S. Goldsmith

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pp. 19-34

Throughout his long life, Mordecai M. Kaplan devoted his seemingly inexhaustible energy to redefining and reinterpreting Judaism. This activity was born out of an unshakeable faith in the capacity of the Jewish people to reconstruct its historic way of life so as to ensure...

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2. The Reconstruction of Jewish Religion Out of Secular Culture

Eliezer Schweid

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pp. 35-50

As early as the beginning of the nineteenth century several attempts were made to derive the basic concepts of the Jewish religion (faith in God as creator and overseer who reveals himself, instructs his people in his Torah, and designates a messianic reward for his followers) from the elements of secular ethics...

Part Two: Stages in a Life

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3. Becoming Centered: Community and Spirituality in the Early Kaplan

Mel Scult

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pp. 51-93

It was in connection with the Jewish Center that Kaplan first formulated the concept of Judaism as a civilization. With eloquence and power he put forth the idea of a new kind of institution that would meet the needs of the emerging jewish community in America. The Jewish Center movement and the name of Mordecai Kaplan...

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4. Kaplan and Israel Friedlaender: Expectation and Failure

Baila Round Shargel

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pp. 94-121

This was the recorded reaction of Mordecai M. Kaplan to the death of Israel Friedlaender while on a relief mission in the Ukraine in July 1920. It is a peculiar mixture of lavish praise for Friedlaender's personal qualities and an ultimately negative evaluation. How...

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5. Kaplan and Cyrus Adler

Richard Libowitz

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pp. 122-139

Throughout their decades of service to the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Conservative movement, the relationship between Mordecai Kaplan and Cyrus Adler remained, at best, formal. While it is doubtful that either man fully appreciated the other, the frequency and volume of their well-known disagreements...

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6. Kaplan and Milton Steinberg: A Disciple's Agreements and Disagreements

Simon Noveck

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pp. 140-170

In the course of his lengthy career as teacher, scholar, and religious ideologist, Mordecai Kaplan attracted a number of well-known rabbis and scholars to the Reconstructionist cause as personal disciples, members of the editorial board of the Reconstructionist, or as contributors to the magazine. These included such personalities...

Part Three: Intellectual Contemporaries

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7. Kaplan and John Dewey

Allan Lazaroff

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pp. 173-196

Mordecai Kaplan has long been linked in the popular Jewish mind with the great American philosopher John Dewey.1 In spite of this common association, there has been no scholarly research on the similarities between them nor an analysis of the influence of Dewey on his younger contemporary. If similarities and influences...

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8. Kaplan and Henry Nelson Wieman

Emanuel S. Goldsmith

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pp. 197-220

Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881-1983) and Henry Nelson Wieman (1884- 1975) were two of the outstanding religious thinkers of the twentieth century. One a Jew and the other a Protestant, they were representatives of their respective traditions as well as pioneers on the frontier of the continuing human quest...

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9. Ahad Ha-Am in Kaplan: Roads Crossing and Parting

Meir Ben-Horin

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pp. 221-233

It is widely accepted that Kaplan was an Ahad Ha-Amian. Rabbi Samuel M. Blumenfield, who from 1954 to 1968 served as director of the Department of Education and Culture of the World Zionist Organization-American Section, coined the phrase the ''Ahad HaAm of American...

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10. Kaplan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Martin Buber: Three Approaches to Jewish Revival

S. Daniel Breslauer

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pp. 234-254

Modernity has forced a new agenda upon Jewish thinkers. While medieval Jewish philosophy sought to demonstrate the existence of God and the primacy of the Sinaitic revelation, modern Jews have investigated the meaning of religion for the human believer and the responsiveness of revelation...

Part Four: Reinterpreting Judaism

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11. A Critical Assessment of Kaplan's Ideas of Salvation

Harold M. Schulweis

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pp. 257-270

The critics of Mordecai Kaplan's philosophic efforts were persistent in their accusations of his purported neglect of metaphysics. Of what value is "an account of the psychological and ethical consequences" of affirming a theology without the metaphysical substructure...

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12. Kaplan's Approach to Metaphysics

William E. Kaufman

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pp. 271-282

Writing about Kaplan's theology in his book Anatomy of Faith, Milton Steinberg contended that "it is precisely in Kaplan's dispatch of the metaphysical problem that I have always had my most grievous difficulties with his thought. It makes a great deal of difference to me whether God...

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13. Kaplan and Process Theology

Jacob J. Staub

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pp. 283-293

No aspect of the teachings of Mordecai M. Kaplan has provoked more powerful reactions than his theology, and no aspect of his writings is in greater need of amplification and clarification. His discussions of God have attracted a faithful and passionate group of followers. For them, the naturalistic idiom of Reconstructionist...

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14. Kaplan's Reinterpretation of the Bible

Mel Scult

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pp. 294-319

We associate Mordecai Kaplan with the concept of Jewish peoplehood, with Judaism as a civilization, and with his lifelong search for the meaning of God in human experience, but rarely is Kaplan perceived as an interpreter of the Bible. To be sure, he frequently bases his arguments...

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15. Kaplan as Liturgist

Ira Eisenstein

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pp. 319-332

Mordecai Kaplan's experiments with liturgy grew directly out of his involvement, as a practicing rabbi, with public worship and the conduct of religious services. Well before he established the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, he had begun to struggle with reconciling ancient texts with his passion for intellectual...

Part Five: The Ideologist

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16. Kaplan and the Role of Women in Judaism

Carole S. Kessner

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pp. 335-356

Mordecai M. Kaplan was one of the earliest advocates in America for the equality of women in Jewish law and in Jewish life. This is no longer news-nor is the fact that the first Shabbat morning bat mitzvah ceremony in the United States was that of Kaplan's own daughter, the eldest of his four...

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17. Kaplan's Influence on Jewish Social Work

Harriet A. Feiner

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pp. 357-369

As with his other work, Mordecai Kaplan expressed his ideas on social work in the context of an integrated view of the American Jewish life of his era. Although his teaching, writing, and lecturing related to Jewish social work comprise only a small part of his contribution to Jewish thought, his influence extended...

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18. Kaplan and Jewish Education: Reflections on His Influence

William Cutter

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pp. 370-384

Mordecai Kaplan and Reconstructionism are virtually interchangeable in most treatments of American Judaism. No transformation in the Reconstructionist movement since Kaplan's retirement and death has deflected thinkers from identifying its basic position with his. Jewish history has rarely...

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19. The Quest for Economic Justice: Kaplan's Response to the Challenge of Communism, 1929-1940

Rebecca Trachtenbera Alpert

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pp. 385-400

One implication of Mordecai Kaplan's important idea that it is possible to live simultaneously in two civilizations was that Judaism and secular culture were compatible. One can remain Jewish and at the same time learn from various phenomena in American culture. In fact, certain American...

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20. Reflections on Kaplan's Zionism

Jack J. Cohen

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pp. 401-414

In the spring of 1961, I informed Mordecai M. Kaplan that I would be leaving for Jerusalem during the coming winter to become director of the B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundations in Israel. Kaplan pleaded with me to reconsider my decision, arguing that my contribution to Jewish life should be made...

Complete Bibliography of the Writings of Mordecai M. Kaplan

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pp. 415-452

Index

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pp. 453-461