Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a...

Judaism as a Civilization remains one of the most original and thought-provoking contributions toward creating a comprehensive program for creative Jewish life. In this seminal work, Kaplan offers his now famous concept of Judaism as an evolving religious civilization.

xiKAPLAN’S  JUDAISM AT SIXTY: A REAPPRAISAL ARNOLD EISEN One of my favorite paragraphs in this wonderful book— full to over-flowing with trenchant analyses and critiques, bristling with anger and indignation, enlivened at every step by passionate intelligence— is the very last, where Mordecai Kaplan, after some five- hundred- twenty- two pages, finally takes leave of his reader. He does so, characteristically, with an exhortation— directed first of all at himself. Those who look to Judaism in its present state for their salvation, he writes, are bound to be disap-pointed: “ The Jew will have to save Judaism before Judaism will be in a position to save the Jew.” Our wells must be replenished. Jewish civili-zation must be rediscovered, reinterpreted, reconstructed. “ Such a pro-gram calls for a degree of honesty that abhors all forms of self- delusion, for a temper that reaches out to new consummations, for the type of courage that is not deterred by uncharted regions.” Kaplan has by this point in the book demonstrated that kind of honesty in abundance, evinced that sort of temper ( and other temper, too) more than a few times; he has persistently drawn on— and sought to elicit from his reader— the courage needed to make great changes. And now, at the end, Moses gaz-ing from the mountain, Kaplan can only plead one final time for action. We can do this, he says in effect; I have proven that to you in a thousand irrefutable arguments. You can do this; I can do this. The “ contemporary crisis in Jewish life” can “ prove to be the birth- throes of a new era in the civilization of the Jewish people.” Will it, and it is no dream! The only requirement is adherents so concerned for their own “ salvation” that they dedicate themselves to the cause on which it depends: the salvation here and now, in this world and no other, of their Judaism. One sometimes forgets, given the accumulated impact over time of Kaplan’s masterpiece, that when he finally sat down to write it in 1929, the project of Judaismus reconstruction had already preoccupied Kaplan for most of half a century. Born to pious parents in Lithuania in 1881, an immigrant to America at the age of eight, educated in public schools as well as heder, City College and Columbia University as well as The Jew-ish Theological Seminary, Kaplan was well prepared to pioneer the path that would soon be well traveled by an entire generation of American Jews. The conflicts and opportunities that came with living in two civi-lizations were well known to him. For close to a quarter century he had   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C  | I n d e x For use on stand- alone, non- institutional computers only. To purchase Scholar PDF version with advanced functionality, go to www. publishersrow. com

Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life


About Book Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life

FRONT MATTERTitle PageCopyright PageCONTENTSKAPLAN'S JUDAISM AT SIXTY: A REAPPRAISALPREFACE TO THE 1967 EDITIONPREFACE TO THE 1957 EDITIONPREFACE TO THE 1934 EDITIONINTRODUCTION TO THE 1981 EDITIONINTRODUCTORY CHAPTERPART ONE. THE FACTORS IN THE CRISISA. THE FACTORS OF DISINTEGRATIONB. THE FACTORS OF CONSERVATIONC. THE DECISIVE FACTORPART TWO. THE CURRENT VERSIONS OF JUDAISMPART THREE. THE PROPOSED VERSION OF JUDAISMPART FOUR. ISRAEL. THE STATUS AND ORGANIZATION OF JEWRYPART FIVE. GOD. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE JEWISH RELIGIONPART SIX. TORAH. JUDAISM AS A WAY OF LIFE FOR THE AMERICAN JEWCONCLUSIONNOTESABBREVIATIONSNOTESINDEX
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