A revolutionary book by a revolutionary thinker. Mordecai Kaplan was a true polymath, a philosopher, an early student of sociology and a learned rabbi in his own right. He saw in America a community within Judaism who needed a faith and a community which was relatable, applicable and possible to integrate fully into modern life.
Judaism as a Civilization, aside from having launched a whole religious tradition, is full of sublimely formed arguments, a sense of the historical and theological situation of Judaism and the philosophical approach of medieval and modern theorists. Skipping lightly on from a review of Locke and Voltaire, Kaplan ventures into the economic realities of supporting a community and an accompanying religious apparatus, and the theological openness required to allow unfettered excellence.
Kaplan challenged the normative nature of Jewish law, proposed a less literal conception of God and a fresh and egalitarian approach to the application of Jewish tradition in the modern world. He takes the position that Judaism and its adherents need to take radical action to reinvigorate community and faith and is inspiring in his advice.
'More dangerous to Judaism by far than challenge, opposition and even misinterpretation is the deadening acquiescence of apathy. The lack of controversial writing about Judaism, especially in English, does not mean that there is inward peace in Israel; it betokens the peace of stagnation. This spiritual stagnation in America must be disturbed, and if some of the views expressed in this book will produce the slightest ripple in American-Jewish thinking, the book will have served a useful purpose'.
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About the Author
Date of Birth:February 8, 1943
Date of Death:July 15, 1993