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Kaplan Diaries | The Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

    The Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

    Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881-1983) was one of the most influential Jewish thinkers of the 20th century. We believe that his thought may be even more important in the 21st century.

    Kaplan Diaries

    JTS Digital Collection

    Kaplan Diaries Excerpts

    December 3, 1935 — Kaplan Becomes a Grandfather for the First Time, in Typical Kaplanian Fashion (from Mel Scult’s “collection”):

    “I was lecturing this morning at the Seminary. The passage in the Midrash I was interpreting was in Gen[esis] R[abbah] XXX. It read tinok ben yomo … [ Hebrew: a newborn infant]. I made the point that such is the significance of potentiality in human life that everything is subordinated to it. Potentiality is the end to which all else is the means. As soon as I was through with the lecture Lena [Kaplan’s wife] phoned the good news. When I spoke to [Judah] Nadich [1912-2007] at lunch I told him that I had just become the grandfather of eight pounds of potentiality.” [The baby was Jeremy Musher, son of Hadassah Kaplan Musher and Sidney Musher, a noted physicist who died on September 6, 1974.]

    August 12, 1936 — Difficult to be Hopeful in These Times (from Mel Scult’s “collection”):

    “I find it extremely difficult to set down in writing the dark thoughts that flit across my mind. When I read what is happening to the Jews in Palestine and in Europe I feel as though I were in the midst of a cyclone or an earthquake. The phrase omdim aleinu lechaloteinu [Hebrew: “They stand ready to annihilate us“ (from the Passover Haggadah) keeps on thundering in my mind. All summer I have stayed in the city for the purpose of working on the edition of the Jewish Reconstructionist Papers and on my own book ‘The Meaning of God’ etc. All that work is predicated on there being some ground for the hope that a better time is coming, that the ideals of justice, freedom and peace will some day be realized, that our own Jewish people will live on a footing of equality with the rest of the world. Instead, reaction and violence are becoming more strongly entrenched than ever, and the Jewish people is confronted with the menace of gradual extermination accompanied by mental and physical torture.”

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    The Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

    1574 Ashland Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201
    Phone: 847-492-5200