Page 99 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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N
adich
— T
h e
W
r it ings
o f
M
ordecai
M . K
aplan
9 3
tout ensemble
of all that is included in a civilization. He denies
that this reduces Judaism to a secular culture or to any minimum.
Modernism is wreaking havoc with the traditions and collective
life of the Jewish people which, in response to and because of its
will to live, is gradually transforming itself to meet the require­
ments of the new world. Judaism is passing through a transition,
and the book indicates what needs to be achieved if the transi­
tion is to be negotiated successfully: a reinterpretation of what
to live for as a Jew; the organization of American Jewry; the
meeting of challenges from the political right and left; the
educational implications of the transition; the scientific view
of religion as a basis for mutual tolerance and cooperation.
The year 1936 also witnessed the appearance of two more
works. The first, reflecting Dr. Kaplan’s interest in the study of
Jewish ethics, was his critical edition of
Mesillat Yesharim
by
Moses Hayyim Luzzatto, together with his translation and notes.
I t was published by the Jewish Publication Society of America
in its Schiff Library of Jewish Classics. The second was T
he
Jewish Reconstructionist Papers
edited by Dr. Kaplan.
The
Reconstructionist,
a biweekly periodical, had first appeared in
January 1935 with Dr. Kaplan as chairman of its editorial board.
This book contained a collection of articles and editorial com­
ment culled from the journal, including two articles by Dr.
Kaplan, “The God Idea in Judaism” and “The Status of the
Jewish Woman.”
In the following year
The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish
Religion
appeared, and was printed again a decade later. Here
the author develops more fully his concept of religion and its
place in a civilization, more particularly that of the Jewish
people. The principal questions he tries to answer are: In what
terms must the Jewish religion address itself to the modern Jew?
What is the nature of this-worldly salvation to which the Jewish
religion will have to relate its conception of God? Through which
of its institutions can it best convey what God should mean to
us? The author also interprets the Sabbath and holidays in terms
of modern thought and experience. This work was translated into
Hebrew by Abraham Regelson and the author, and was printed
in Jerusalem in 1938 under the title
Erkhei Hayahadut Vehit-
hadshutam.
A Yiddish book,
Die Zukunft fun der Yidisher Reli-
gie,
was published in 1938 in New York.
More than a decade intervened before the next book was issued
—the tragic decade of the Second World War and the death of
the six million.
Th e Future of the American Jew
appeared in
1948. Clarifying the challenges to Judaism presented by con­
temporary life, the author rejects the answer of assimilation.
Instead he advocates injecting new life into the Jewish people,
thus revitalizing it as an instrument of salvation to all who
belong to it. This salvation requires the progressive perfection