Contemporary American Judaism: Transformation and Renewal

Dana Evan Kaplan, Author . Columbia Univ. $34.50 (446p) ISBN 978-0-231-13728-7

A Reform rabbi in Albany, Ga., Kaplan has edited a collection of essays on American Judaism and written three books on Reform Judaism. His newest contribution focuses on American Judaism since the end of WWII, emphasizing recent innovations in the religion of the Jewish people. The first chapter provides a broad overview of both religious and historical developments, including the impact of the Holocaust and Israel. Changes in religious identity are sketched. The next seven chapters flesh out the fundamentals identified in the introductory chapter. Kaplan discusses spirituality, Jewish denominationalism, intermarriage, feminism, Jewish Renewal, mysticism and synagogue revitalization. He concludes by emphasizing the need to transform Judaism, implying that a more orderly structure is needed but not necessarily achievable. He fails to mention the value of ferment and debate as guarantors of survival, an odd omission given his insightful description of radical changes in American Judaism. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/08/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 446 pages - 978-0-231-13729-4
Open Ebook - 481 pages - 978-0-231-51041-7
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