Page 97 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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N
adich
— T
h e
W
r itings
of
M
ordecai
M . K
aplan
91
Nationality.” The title highlights what is destined to be one of
his major emphases throughout his literary career—Jewish people-
hood. His advocacy of the organic Jewish community is fore­
shadowed by his participation in the abortive
Kehillah
venture
headed by Judah Magnes, and in 1910 he presents the report of
its committee on Jewish education. His first articles in
The
Menorah Journal
in 1915 find him probing into the nature of
Judaism itself. Establishing a method he is to use later, he writes
first on “What Judaism Is Not” and then on “What Is Judaism?”
Dr. Kaplan was one of the early proponents of the Jewish Center
and wrote about it in two separate pieces in 1918.
The first appearance of the term “Reconstruction,” which in
later years was to serve in “Reconstructionism” as the name for
his philosophy, occurs in the title of an article in
The Menorah
Journal
in August 1920, which he calls “A Program for the
Reconstruction of Judaism.” His ideas for an organization of
Jews to further such a program are contained in an article on
“The Society of the Jewish Renascence” in
The Maccabean
in
November 1920. Three years later it appeared in brochure form
entitled
The Society for the Advancement of Judaism.
It was
published by the Society which Dr. Kaplan founded in 1922,
and which he led actively until 1943 when he became its leader
emeritus. For the six years of its life (1923-1929), the journal
of the Society, the
S.A.J. Review,
carried well over one hundred
different items by its founder, dealing with a variety of subjects,
but related to his primary areas of interest. He wrote on multi­
farious themes: theology, the theory and practice of religion, the
nature of Judaism, an understanding of America, Zionism, edu­
cation, Jewish art, nationalism, adult education, mixed marriage,
the remaking of human nature, the Jewish community center,
paraphrase and interpretation of the Midrash Aggada, rabbinic
lore, the history of Judaism as reflected in its literature, revalua­
tion of Jewish values, the God idea and the concepts of Torah
and Israel, a critique of Orthodoxy and Reform, and an elabora­
tion of the philosophy of Judaism as a civilization.
His first work in the field of Jewish liturgy was his
Supple­
mentary Readings and Meditations,
published in 1924, the year
the Society also published his lengthy brochure,
A New Approach
to the Problem of Judaism.
Another pamphlet,
Toward a Recon­
struction of Judaism,
was published three years later under the
auspices of
The Menorah Journal,
having originally appeared
in the pages of that magazine. He elaborated upon the idea of
Judaism as a civilization in the same periodical in 1928, and in
the
Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly
for that year.
When the second edition of H. Hirschfeld’s translation of
Judah Halevi’s
Kitab Al Khazari
appeared in 1927, the preface
was written by Professor Kaplan. He also wrote an introduction,
“The Significance of Ruth,” to
T h e Story of Ruth Graphically