• 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.

Herem Text

(We are grateful to Dr. David Golomb, Professor Emeritus at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, for this translation.)

Text  of the Decree of Excommunication 

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

(Psalm 121:2)

The leaders of the people, rabbis of Greater New York and surroundings, heads of yeshivos, hasidic leaders, and scholars from the great yeshivos of this community, gathering together on the third day of the week of the parashah of Korah (Numbers 16:21), the second day of Rosh Hodesh Tammuz, 5705 – at the calling of the executive body of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the U.S. and Canada (Agudas HaRabonim) and of the Rabbinic Committee [Va-ad HaRabonim] of Greater New York, because of the terrible scandal done in a high-handed and openly insolent manner by a certain person called Dr. Mordecai Kaplan, in publishing a new monstrosity by the name of Siddur Tefihlos in which he demonstrated total heresy and a complete disbelief in the God of Israel and in the principles of the law of the Torah of Israel – and the future of a heresy that continues like this who can contemplate? – therefore, it has been decided unanimously and in one congregation to banish him and to excommunicate him and to separate him from the  community of Israel until he fully repents in accordance with law and custom.

We hereby publish and declare, by the authority of the King of the Universe and by the power of our holy Torah, with complete fortitude and strength and with the full weight of the law, A Total Prohibition and Total Ban on this Siddur, which must be neither seen nor found throughout all the territory of Israel, and by the bite of the snake [of excommunication], the curse of the rabbis that has no remedy is upon anyone who holds this siddur in his hand or who looks at it, whether in private or in public. Anyone who obeys all of the above will be doubly blessed.