Page 96 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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On the 80th Anniversary of His Birth
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NE of the foremost creative thinkers produced by American
Jewry, Dr. Mordecai M. Kaplan, was brought to the United
States from Lithuania as a child and received his education in
New York City. Not long after his ordination by The Jewish
Theological Seminary of America, he was invited to join the
faculty of that institution. For over a half century he has taught
successive generations of students at the Seminary and at its
Teachers Institute of which he was the founding dean. He was
a member of the faculty of the Graduate School for Jewish Social
Service, and a visiting professor at the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem. His subjects have reflected his major areas of interest:
philosophy, education, social and communal organization, homi­
letics and Midrash.
His many hundreds of students now occupy positions in the
rabbinate, in education, social work and Jewish professional and
lay leadership. But through his prolific pen his influence has
been extended even further. It would be no exaggeration to
describe him as one of the greatest teachers of American Jewry.
The mere listing of all his writings through 1952 by Dr.
Gerson D. Cohen in the Mordecai M. Kaplan Jubilee Volume
(published in 1953 by the Seminary), enumerates two hundred
and sixty items. Of course, this includes magazine articles of
varying length, but a series of pieces on a single subject is listed
as one item. Twenty-five years elapsed from the date of his first
article to the publication of his first book, but the large number
of magazine pieces reflects the development of his philosophy
of Judaism set down in systematic and organized structure in
that first volume, his magnum opus,
Judaism as a Civilization:
Toward a Reconstruction of American Jewish Life.
The First Twenty-Five Years
From 1909 to 1934 scores of articles poured from his pen in a
number of magazines, chiefly
The Menorah Journal,
From the beginning, his writing reveals
the areas of his intellectual concern. His first piece, printed in
The Maccabean
in August 1909, deals with “Judaism and
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