Page 120 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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The first childhood friend who died; sickness, hardsh ips ,
poverty, failure in business; each o f these in tu rn left us
bewildered, powerless, depressed and defeated. They have
made us b roken vessels.
Do you think tha t every hu r t, every knock, and break tha t
you have suffered has m a rred your life, has weakened your
Rabbi A lexander says, ‘I f an ord inary man uses a b roken
vessel, he is ashamed o f it. But all the vessels o f God are
broken .’ God does not despise the broken and downcast
heart. God is nea r to the broken hearted . They call upon
Him in tru th and He answers the ir cries. . . .6
Kaplan gave generously of his time and his boundless energy to
all who approached him. In the early years o f the Menorah
Society movement he spoke frequently on college campuses and
used the Menorah Jou rn a l as a primary fo rum fo r expressing his
ideas. In 1925 when the Hebrew University opened , Kaplan was
presen t at the dedication ceremonies as the official represen tative
o f the Zionist Organization o f America. In the era before easy air
travel, he jou rneyed many times to communities in the Middle
West and South. It was Kaplan who, in the years following World
War II, laid the foundations o f the University o f Juda ism du r ing
the many speaking tours he made to the West Coast.
Whether in the lecture hall, the pulpit, o r the classroom Kaplan
was continuously expand ing and refin ing his approach to J u d a ­
ism. Kaplan is significant as a th inker because o f the ideas he
legitimated and because o f the responses induced by his chal­
lenges. His ideology was a primary force in creating not only a
modern context fo r Jewish life, bu t a tho roughgo ing American
one as well. Few o f his ideas were widely accepted when he first
expounded them. Now many o f them are commonplace.
Kaplan was one o f the first at the Seminary to come ou t openly
in suppo rt o f the biblical critics. We rem em ber tha t Solomon
Schechter had re fe r re d to biblical criticism as H igh er anti-
8 Kaplan Sermon Cards, Kaplan Papers, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.