Mordechai Kaplan literally and figuratively moved out of the Orthodox synagogue to establish his own denomination, while still teaching for many years at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the center of Conservative Judaism at the time. In his efforts to speak to modern Jews, Kaplan undertook the reconstruction of Judaism by finding a way to maintain Jewish practice without the commanding authority of a personal God. David Ellenson will discuss what Kaplan’s personal journey means for Jews today and how his understanding of Judaism has opened paths for Jews outside his denomination.
Philosophical Legacies of American Judaism: A “Conversation” with Three Iconic Thinkers
Rabbis Abraham Joshua Heschel, Mordechai Kaplan, and Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, three of the 20th century’s greatest representatives of American rabbinic leadership, left behind influential works and scores of students. In this three-part series, David Ellenson guides us through the rich thinking of these scholars and the ways that each shaped the intellectual and spiritual contours of American Judaism. We will interrogate the models that these figures offer modern Jews for staying authentic to the roots of Jewish existence while applying the tradition in novel, and even unpredictable ways.
This program is part of Ideas for Today, curated courses by Hartman Institute scholars on the big Jewish ideas we need to think better and do better.
Other sessions in this series: