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.

xii  KAPLAN’S JUDAISM AT SIXTY: A REAPPRAISAL directed the Teachers’ Institute of The Jewish Theological Seminary and taught homiletics to the Seminary’s rabbis. He had inspired ( and intimi-dated) countless students, challenged ( and battled) distinguished col-leagues. He had served as the rabbi of two major Orthodox congregations in New York City and had left the second ( and Orthodoxy) in 1922 to found the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, a prototype for the new sort of progressive synagogue- center that he envisioned. Kaplan had trained many of American Jewry’s leaders, moved in the company of its donors and its activists, engaged the community’s greatest minds, helped to set the communal agenda with dozens of articles and speeches. And, throughout these years, he had accumulated the scars of the pioneer upon his person: loneliness and self- doubt, grandiosity in rhetoric and expec-tation, achievement outstripped by frustration. Perhaps the greatest frustration of all to Kaplan was the fact that, for all his many achievements, he had no book. Several lay begun but unfinished in a drawer; at least one— on rabbinic Judaism— had been completed but never submitted for publication. Then came the prod of an essay contest seeking programs aimed at the “ fullest spiritual de-velopment of the individual Jew and the most effective functioning of the Jewish community in America.” Kaplan determinedly finished his long manuscript, submitted it on time, and eagerly awaited the verdict of the judges. We learn from Mel Sculfs recent fine biography that for Kaplan far more than the prize money ( ten thousand dollars) was at stake. He considered the contest a referendum on the likelihood that his ideas would be accepted. “ It won’t be long now, and I shall know whether my conception of Judaism has a fighting chance or not,” Kaplan confided to his diary. Happily, he won the largest share of a divided prize. ( Several of the judges, concerned that Kaplan’s scheme was unworkable, would not vote for him outright.)  Kaplan immediately put his share toward the cost of publication. 1 The book’s appearance in 1934 at once gave Kaplan’s life new focus, his pen new productivity, and his many opponents in the Jewish world a new set of giant targets. Over the rest of his long career— Kaplan’s life miraculously spanned fully another half century— he wrote at least a half-dozen other major works as well as hundreds of articles. The “ concep-tion of Judaism” set forth in this book was refined and occasionally modified, but Kaplan’s message remained for all intents and purposes the one that we read here: Modernity represented a major crisis for Jews   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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