Learning Materials for Adults

From Dr. Jeffrey Schein

90th Anniversary Celebration of Judaism As a Civilization 

Dr. Deborah Waxman and Elias Sacks on “Judaism as a Civilization: the 90th Anniversary of this Hanukkah Gift that Keeps Giving”. 

We’d like to help our Institutional Friends utilize this both as a webinar in their own community and as useful public relations about the place of Kaplan in their own community. 

In regard to the use in your own community of the celebration of the 90th anniversary of Judaism as a Civilization, I am suggesting a very simple format. In person or via Zoom (or both), view the webinar and have a delightful dialogue. 

Here are a few sample questions that might guide the dialogue: 

1. Think of the famous Francis Bacon quote that only a few books are of a nature that they should be chewed and slowly digested. 

Why might Judaism as a Civilization be one of these? 

2. Have there been books you have read that affected you the way Dr. Waxman describes Phillip Klutznick responding to Judaism as a Civilization

3. Kaplan was personally rather modest but overflowing with enthusiasm about ideas. One of the greatest compliments he could pay you was if something you said or wrote was “Copernican” (i.e. turned the world upside down). What in your

mind is “Copernican” about redefining Judaism as a civilization rather than a religion. 

4. Suppose a visitor from Mars landed in your own synagogue. The visitor assumed that what he is experiencing about Judaism is the way things always were. How would you help the visitor understand that the version of Judaism he is experiencing was a revolution? 

The communal template we will be creating builds on the partnership between the Kaplan Center and the adult learning institute Hineini here in the Twin Cities. This institute is directed by Rabbi Debra Rappaport, an RRC grad. Together we are building a community program called “The Hidden Kaplanian Footsteps in the Twin Cities Community”. The program would combine viewing the recording of our December 10 webinar with the testimonies of local rabbis and community leaders about Kaplan’s influence on the architecture of Jewish life in the arenas of synagogue life, education, and the arts in our community. We think you can put together a similar program in your community that would give Kaplan his due and even more significantly enhance the status of your own synagogue in your community. 

Mordecai Kaplan Through the Eyes of Ira Eisenstein 

We recently made available digitally Ira Eisenstein’s books Creative Judaism and What We Mean by Religion, where we approached Kaplan through the lenses of Ira Eisenstein’s “primers” on Kaplan’s most important books (Judaism as a Civilization and The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Religion). 

Here is the link to the full set of communications and recordings used by Rabbi Lee Friedlander and Harriet Feiner for this course.