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 August 10, 1939 on Facism, Mobocracy, and Democracy

After mentioning the two factors which have contributed to the rise of mobocracy, viz: a) the stupendous machinery of communication which unites millions into a seething sea of human emotion, and b) the failure of democracy to make good its promise of bringing special privilege under control.

 The rulers in a mobocracy know that they can gain control of the masses by instilling in them hate and fears of some common enemy who has to be augmented to gigantic proportions if he is comparatively insignificant and harmless, and who has to be invented if he is non-existent. For their purposes, mankind must be treated as broken up into classes or nations or tribes that are engaged in a mutual life and death struggle. The purpose of propaganda is to fan the flames of hate.


  • How do media and “mobocracy” work together to make the challenge even more severe in 2024?
  • What is the difference between acculturation and propaganda?
  • What are the most potent forces in today’s American democracy that can provide unity rather than fragmentation? 
  • DeTocqueville spoke of the “tyrrany of the majority”.  How does this play into our contemporary challenge to 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