Page 125 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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SCULT / MORDECAI KAPLAN AT
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Jacob Reines, the founde r of Mizrachi had been the Rabbi in the
town o f Svenziany where Kaplan grew up. Kaplan a ttended a
number o f Zionist congresses. T h roughou t the twenties and th ir ­
ties he aided the Zionist movement in many d ifferen t ways.
Chaim Weizmann was a regular visitor to the Kaplan household
and Kaplan participated in the money raising efforts o f the Jew ­
ish National Fund speaking often on its behalf.
We do not ordinarily think o f Kaplan as an historian bu t in
The
GreaterJudaism in the Making
he shows us tha t he has considerable
talent in this a rea .17 While the book is primarily concerned with
recent developments detailing how we arrived at ou r present
state, there are excellent chapters on “T he Salvation Aspect o f
Traditional Juda ism ” and on “T rend s in Medieval Juda ism .”
Kaplan also gives a detailed account o f the origins o f Reform
Judaism both in Europe and the United States.
Kaplan’s literary ou tpu t marks him clearly as a seminal and
prolific m ind .18 We also find a considerable body of impo rtan t
unpublished material among his private papers. Many o f Kap­
lan’s colleagues and close friends were aware that he kept a
jou rna l but few realize the full ex tent o f it. T he jou rna l was kept in
large accountant type volumes. It begins in 1913 and continues
throughou t Kaplan’s life. T here are some twenty-two o f these
volumes that run up to 1966. Kaplan began his diary as a way of
thinking through the speeches and papers tha t he was working
on. As the years passed, the diary became more o f a record o f his
activities from day to day and continued to include his thinking on
a wide variety o f subjects. It is a treasure house of memorabilia
17 Mordecai Kaplan,
The Greater Judaism in the Making - A Study of the Modem
Evolution ofJudaism,
(New York: The Reconstructionist Press, 1960).
18 Kaplan’s other books include:
The Purpose and Meaning ofJewish Existence
(Philadelphia: The Jewish Publica­
tion Society of America, 1964). This unusual work consists o f a summary or
epitome o f the philosophy of Hermann Cohen. Kaplan had added a commen­
tary and two concluding chapters, including a significant critique of the
philosophy of Martin Buber.
Not So Random Thoughts
(New York: The Reconstructionist Press, 1966). A
collection of Kaplan’s thoughts which appeared in the Reconstructionist over
the years. We have here short epigrams on a wide range of topics.
The Religion of Ethical Nationhood
(New York: The Macmillan Co., 1970). A
restatement of Kaplan’s philosophy that centers around the concepts of wis­
dom and trans-naturalism.