It is often observed that for Mordecai Kaplan (and others) democracy was the religion of America.
The Kaplan Center appreciates our grant from the Jewish Partnership for Democracy: A More Perfect Union. This grant allows us to embark on a “religious” journey from this February through next October. Each month we will select and distribute to our friends and partners a passage from Mordecai Kaplan or one of his students and collaborators.
This month features Rabbi Manny Goldsmith, zichrono l’veracha.
For Kaplan, the idea underlying democracy is that the interests uniting human beings, if they become truly aware of those interests, are strong enough to ward off the divisive influence of people’s differences. The crucial problem of freedom is how to guard our individuality and the capacity to think for ourselves and yet cooperate with those whose backgrounds, upbringings and outlooks are different from our own. This is an art, said Kaplan, that human beings are slow to learn. Democracy should be conceived as a process of social experimentation by which people are seeking to learn that art and to apply, step by step, the wisdom acquired as a result of such experimentation. That is why the art of free, voluntary cooperation, the ultimate objective of democracy, must constantly be cultivated.
-Rabbi Manny Goldsmith, Reconstructionism Today, Spring 2003
Explore the Kaplan Center’s latest resources
- Related to our conversation about democracy: “Memory on Trial” by Dr. Jeffrey Schein
- Mordecai Kaplan Facebook group facilitated by Dr. Mel Scult
- Dr. Joe Riemer of Brandeis University on “Teens, Israel, and Kaplan”
- Remembering Rabbi Emanuel Goldsmith
- Watch the recording of the January 7 webinar on Valley Beth Shalom as a Kaplanian Playground
- From Mel’s Desk: “A Theology of the Personal”
Judaism as a Civilization, The Hanukkah Gift to the Jewish People and World that Keeps on Giving
with Dr. Deborah Waxman and a response by Dr. Elias Sacks
The Great Kaplanian Report Card: Valley Beth Shalom as a Kaplanian Playground
with Rabbis Amy Bernstein, Ed Feinstein, and Jeffrey Schein
Beneath the Surface: Mordecai Kaplan’s Philosophical Commitments Explored
with Dr. Nadav S. Berman and Dr. Rabbi Vered Sakal
Kaplanian Perspectives & Scholarship
Dr. Vered Sakal
Realism, Pluralism and Salvation
Dr. Eric Caplan
The True Spirit of Hanukkah
Our Kaplanian voices series seeks to sensitize us to the unique ways many of us experience the very notion of Peoplehood in 2023. Below are excerpts from conversation between Rabbis Jeffrey Eisenstat, founding director of our movement’s Camp Havaya, and former camp counselors about their initial exposures to the philosophies of Mordecai Kaplan a decade ago and its present meaning to them as young adult Jews in their thirties.