Mel Scult Teen Prize

Sponsored by the Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood in cooperation with Camp Havaya and Reconstructing Judaism

Calling all teens! Submissions are open from July 1 – October 30, 2024.
Prizes announced by November 24, 2024.

All teens eligible from B Mitzvah age through 12th grade to apply for the prize. 

Mel Scult is the premiere biographer of Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. He is beyond doubt the world’s expert on the life and writings of Mordecai Kaplan. Help the Kaplan Center celebrate his 90th birthday by participating in this contest! 

Two teen prizes of $1,000
(if awarded to hevruta the prize money is split between participants)

Winners will receive a letter of recognition that can be used for college applications. The contest is part of continuing efforts to help teens access the depth and profundity of Mordecai Kaplan’s philosophy. You are encouraged to talk to youth directors, Rabbis, and Education directors to develop your ideas.

Submissions can be of one of two categories:
Artistic or Literary 

Artistic Submissions:

Design your own logo (with accompanying song or video if you choose). Take the judges backstage and share some of your process:
– What are the various elements of your logo?
– Why did you choose them?  
– How do you hope this logo will affect the viewer? 
– What message about 21st century Reconstructionist Judaism do you hope the logo will convey?
Sample logos from across the Reconstructionist Movement can be found within the application.

Literary Submissions:

Choose any of the five questions and write a 200-300 word response. You are welcome to create video or audio supplements with your entry, but this is not required.  
Below are five issues that were posed to Mordecai Kaplan in the 20th century and collected in a volume Questions Jews Ask. We are interested in the responses from 21st century teens.
#1 Is there any reason to identify with the Jewish People, aside from being convinced Jewish  are unique/superior?
#2 What should be the relationship between Judaism and the State of Israel in 2024?
#3 Is there any reason to identify with the Jewish People, aside from being convinced Jews are unique?
#4 Does departing from Jewish tradition in any way lessen the chance of Jewish Peoplehood surviving?
#5 What changes in contemporary Judaism are necessary for Judaism to fulfill the promise of Kaplan’s dream?
For inspiration, please read this article:
A Child’s Biography of Mordecai Kaplan – Reconstructing Judaism

Questions? Contact our educator Karen Morris at