Page 124 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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to the Chosen People). Kaplan’s colleagues at the Seminary al­
most unanimously opposed the
New Haggadah
and sent him a
long explanatory le tter detailing the ir objections. This mu ted
protest became loud and public when in 1945 the Reconstruc­
tionist Movement published its Sabbath Prayer book. It was the
prayerbook, o f course, which led to Kaplan’s excommunication
by the O rthodox rabbinate in Ju n e o f 1945.
By this time Kaplan had become the major liberal ideologue on
the American scene. In additional to
Judaism As A Civilization,
Kaplan had published two o the r works,
Judaism in Transition
(1936) and
The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Religion
In the latter work he ingeniously tied his concept o f God as the
Power that makes fo r salvation to the d iffe ren t holy days o f the
Jewish calender. Kaplan also published regularly in the Recon­
structionist and in the o the r leading Jewish periodicals o f the day.
As the years passed, Kaplan’s energy and creativity never
seemed in dange r o f declining. When most men would have been
ready for retirem en t, Kaplan seemed to be ju s t hitting stride. In
1948, at the age o f sixty-seven, Kaplan published
The Future of the
American J ew .15
This large work again stated his basic approach ,
bu t more importantly it spelled ou t his m a ture thinking on the
chosen people idea, the nature o f religion, Jewish law, the status
o f women in Jewish law and the way in which reconstructed
Judaism understood the basic moral and spiritual values.
T he fifties and sixties were years o f g rea t creativity fo r Kaplan.
In 1955 he published a book dealing with his ideas about Zionism
in light o f the establishment o f the State o f Israel.16 Kaplan o f
course had been a Zionist since the days o f T heodo r Herzl. Rabbi
14 Mordecai Kaplan,
Judaism As A Civilization -Toward A Reconstruction ofAmerican
Jewish Life,
(New York: The Macmillan Co., 1934).
Judaism In Transition,
(New York: Covici-Friede, 1936).
The Meaning of God in Modem Jewish Religion
(New York: Behrman’s
Jewish Book House, 1937).
15 Mordecai Kaplan,
The Future of the American Jew,
(New York: The Macmillan
Co., 1948).
16 Mordecai Kaplan,
A New Zionism,
(New York: The Herzl Press and the Jewish
Reconstructionist Press, 1955).