The Radical American Judaism Of Mordecai M. Kaplan

Paperback | March 19, 2015

byMel Scult

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Mordecai M. Kaplan, founder of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, is the only rabbi to have been excommunicated by the Orthodox rabbinical establishment in America. Kaplan was indeed a radical, rejecting such fundamental Jewish beliefs as the concept of the chosen people and a supernatural God. Although he valued the Jewish community and was a committed Zionist, his primary concern was the spiritual fulfillment of the individual. Drawing on Kaplan's 27-volume diary, Mel Scult describes the development of Kaplan's radical theology in dialogue with the thinkers and writers who mattered to him most, from Spinoza to Emerson and from Ahad Ha-Am and Matthew Arnold to Felix Adler, John Dewey, and Abraham Joshua Heschel. This gracefully argued book, with its sensitive insights into the beliefs of a revolutionary Jewish thinker, makes a powerful contribution to modern Judaism and to contemporary American religious thought.

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Mordecai M. Kaplan, founder of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, is the only rabbi to have been excommunicated by the Orthodox rabbinical establishment in America. Kaplan was indeed a radical, rejecting such fundamental Jewish beliefs as the concept of the chosen people and a supernatural God. Although he valued the Jewish communi...

Mel Scult is Professor Emeritus of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and a member of the history faculty at the CUNY Graduate School. He is author of Judaism Faces the Twentieth Century: A Biography of Mordecai M. Kaplan and editor of Communings of the Spirit: The Journals of Mordecai M. Kaplan, Volume 1:...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:360 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:March 19, 2015Publisher:Indiana University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0253017114

ISBN - 13:9780253017116

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface

Introduction
1. Excommunications: Kaplan and Spinoza
2. Self-Reliance: Kaplan and Emerson
3. Nationalism and Righteousness: Ahad Ha-Am and Matthew Arnold
4. Universalism and Pragmatism: Felix Adler, William James, and John Dewey
5. Kaplan and Peoplehood: Judaism as a Civilization and Zionism
6. Kaplan and His God: An Ambivalent Relationship
7. Kaplan's Theology: Beyond Supernaturalism
8. Salvation: The Goal of Religion
9. Salvation Embodied: The Vehicle of Mitzvot
10. Mordecai the Pious: Kaplan and Heschel
11. The Law: Halakhah and Ethics
12. Kaplan and the Problem of Evil: Cutting the Gordian Knot
Conclusion

Appendix: "Thirteen Wants" of Mordecai Kaplan Reconstructed
Notes
Selected Bibliography and Note on Sources
Index

Editorial Reviews

"Mel Scult, professor emeritus at Brooklyn College, explores the ways in which Mordecai Kaplan, the only rabbi to have been excommunicated by the Orthodox rabbinical establishment in America, was a radical. Using Kaplan's 27-volume diary, Scult places Kaplan's thought in conversation with other thinkers like Spinoza, Emerson, Ahad Ha-Am, John Dewey, and Abraham Joshua Heschel." -NBN New Books Network Jewish Studies