Judaism Faces the Twentieth Century: A Biography of Mordecai M. Kaplan

Mel Scult, Author Wayne State University Press $39.95 (436p) ISBN 978-0-8143-2279-6
Son of a Lithuanian rabbi who emigrated with his family to New York in 1889, Mordecai Kaplan (1881-1983) struggled to find ways to make Judaism compatible with the American experience and modern thought. Viewing Judaism as a ``living civilization'' rather than merely as a religion, Kaplan, a rabbi, sociological thinker and teacher, founded the Reconstructionist movement, an alternative to the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox branches of Judasim. In this rich study of a major Jewish thinker, Scult, a professor of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College, limns a self-doubting, workaholic, demanding idealist whose ideas still provoke controversy. Kaplan characterized God as the ``cosmic life urge'' which displayed itself in human strivings for justice and freedom. He interpreted Jewish rituals and commandments as customs and folkways that helped the Jews in their efforts to lead an ethical life. Photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Religion
Paperback - 440 pages - 978-0-8143-2280-2
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