Kaplan, Musar, Mindfulness and Morals

Preparation for the High Holidays with Drs. Eric Caplan and Mel Scult, Rabbi Marc Margolius, and Elizabeth Caplun, moderated by Rabbi Les Bronstein

Dr. Eric Caplan, Vice President and Academic Advisor of the Kaplan Center, is an associate professor of contemporary Judaism and Jewish education at McGill University. He is currently assembling an anthology of Jewish social activist thought in North America, 1860-2021 (Jewish Publication Society) and preparing for publication the final volume of excerpts from the diaries of Mordecai Kaplan, 1951-1978 (Wayne State University Press). Eric’s book, From Ideology to Liturgy: Reconstructionist Worship and American Liberal Judaism (Hebrew Union College Press, 2002), was reissued with an extensive new preface in 2022. He is a co-founder of the Kaplan Center.

Dr. Mel Scult is a retired professor of Judaic Studies who has taught at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Vassar College, Brandeis University and the New School. His publications include a biography of Mordecai Kaplan, a volume analyzing Kaplan’s thought, three volumes of excerpts from the twenty-seven volume Kaplan diary and a volume dealing with the origin of the missions to convert the Jews. He has also published essays on Solomon Schechter, Mathilde Schechter and Henrietta Szold.

Rabbi Marc Margolius is Vice President for Faculty and Program for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.  He directs the faculty and overall programming for IJS, and oversees programming for lay leaders and alumni of the alumni of our Clergy Leadership Program, hosts IJS’s online daily mindfulness meditation sessions, and teaches Awareness in Action: Cultivating Character through Mindfulness and Middot, IJS’s online program in tikkun middot practice, integrating Jewish mindfulness with attention to core middot, character traits. He is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and of Yale Law School, and lives in New York City.

Elizabeth Caplun immigrated to California from Belgium in her 30’s. She holds a BS in Journalism and a MS in Environmental Sciences from Brussels Free University. Her career in the US took place in academic environments, with the last 20 years in executive positions at Stanford University. While in the Bay Area, she became acquainted with reconstructionist Judaism and joined Keddem Congregation in Palo Alto. She retired a couple of years ago to Bishop, a rural community in Eastern California. She spends her time practicing and teaching Mussar, writing poetry and exploring her gorgeous surroundings. 

Rabbi Les Bronstein has served as rabbi of Bet Am Shalom Synagogue in White Plains NY since 1989.  He is past president of the New York Board of Rabbis and the Westchester Board of Rabbis, past chair of the JFNA Rabbinic Cabinet, and past co-chair of T’ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. He served on the RRA board and its commissions on the Guide to Jewish Practice and the Role of the Rabbi.