What’s New ? מה חדש

It is often observed that for Mordecai Kaplan (and others) democracy was the religion of America. 
The Kaplan Center appreciates our grant from A More Perfect Union: Jewish Partnership for Democracy. 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 Kaplan’s diary entry from Thursday, Dec 24, 1942

The contribution which Judaism has made and should continue to make to democracy and the American way of life is best summarized in the motto enunciated by the prophet Zachariah. [ 4:6 ] “Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit saith the Lord of Hosts,” and to add the supplement of Hillel’s famous summary of Judaism, “the rest is commentary, go and learn.”

The importance of Zachariah’s motto is that it furnishes the key to that inner freedom without which democracy is merely a hollow form.  “Not by might nor by power but by my spirit” sets forth the mental attitude which is a prerequisite to the building of a world on the foundations of peace.  Before we can have democracy in action, we must will it…


  • When do you experience democracy in a “hollow form” in our political life?  What accounts for its hollowness?
  • When is democracy “thick and textured” as opposed to hollow?
  •  In 2024, is democracy more “hollow” or more “thick and textured”?  
  • What role does media play in “thickening’ and “hollowing “ our experience of democracy?

Join the Conversation…

Explore the Kaplan Center’s latest resources


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 Scholarship

Looking to deepen your knowledge of Mordecai Kaplan’s life and philosophy?  

Visit Reconstructing Judaism to explore the way Kaplan’s influence has become woven deeply into the fabric of a major North American Jewish movement.

Kaplanian Voices

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.

Yael Kurganoff on the power of Camp Havaya connections to Israel
Josh Davidson on the essence of peoplehood

Visit the Ira Eisenstein portal where you will find….

  • Introductions by Rabbi Richard Hirsh to Ira Eisenstein’s books Creative Judaism and What We Mean by Religion with digital copies of those currently out-of-print volumes now available on our website
  • Explore the full set of resources related to teaching Mordecai Kaplan through Ira Eisenstein’s writings with these resources
  • Reflections about Ira Eisenstein as theologian and wise leader by Rabbis Dennis Sasso and Jeffrey Schein
  • A recording of Rabbi Eisenstein’s contributions that was hosted by the SAJ:Judaism that Stands For All as part of its centenary celebration