Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life

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Jewish Publication Society, 2010 - Religion - 661 pages
Judaism as a Civilization is widely considered the genesis of the Reconstructionist Movement, representing a watershed moment in modern Judaism. In this classic book, Mordecai Kaplan introduced a new way of looking at Judaism: as an evolving religious civilization. His approach required innovation in liturgy and ritual, elimination of obsolete customs, and adjustment in light of prevailing social, political, and cultural conditions. Kaplan felt that all Jews—traditional and liberal, religious and secular—could play a part in this “reconstruction.” Judaism as a Civilization, first published in 1934, remains one of the most original and thought-provoking contributions to modern Jewish thought.

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Judaism as a civilization: toward a reconstruction of American-Jewish life

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Initially published in 1934, Kaplan's book sets forth the basic tenets that marked his long career in Jewish philosophy. This edition contains the original text plus the introduction to all subsequent editions and an essay by scholar Arnold Eisen. Read full review


Part Three The Proposed Version of Judaism
Part Four Israel The Status and Organization of Jewry
Part Five God The Development of the Jewish Religion
Part Six Torah Judaism as a Way of Life for the American Jew

Part Two The Current Versions of Judaism

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About the author (2010)

Mordecai Kaplan was born in Lithuania and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1889. He was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and received a master’s degree from Columbia University. He first served as associate rabbi of Kehillath Jeshurun, an Orthodox synagogue in New York, and later joined the faculty of JTS. Kaplan continued teaching and writing until his death in 1983, at the age of 102.

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