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Communings of the Spirit

The Journals of Mordecai M. Kaplan, Volume 1: 1913-1934

Edited by Mel Scult

American History, Autobiography, History, Jewish Studies, Jewish Thought

American Jewish Civilization Series

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Paperback
Published: May 2002
ISBN: 9780814331163
Pages: 560 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 21 black and white images
Hardback
Published: June 2001
ISBN: 9780814325759
Pages: 560 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 21
Review

Reading Mordecai Kaplan's diaries is like standing over the shoulder of a brilliant and troubled man as he struggles to define his emerging philosophy of Judaism, while at the same time attempting to conceal from disapproving eyes the heterodox views he was formulating.”

— Rabbi Ira Eisenstein

Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881-1983), founder of Reconstructionism, is the preeminent American Jewish thinker and rabbi of our times. His life embodies the American Jewish experience of the first half of the twentieth century. With passionate intensity and uncommon candor, Kaplan compulsively recorded his experience in his journal (some 10,000 pages).

This first volume of Communings of the Spirit covers Kaplan's early years as a rabbi, teacher of rabbis, and community leader. Kaplan, who trained rabbis for half a century, gives us an inside picture of life at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the center of Conservative Judaism in America. He records his masterful weekly sermons, which were attended regularly by his students. With unflinching candor, he reveals his successes and failures, uncertainties and self-doubts. Undeterred by attacks on his radical beliefs, he never wavered in the pursuit of a more dynamic Judaism.

Mel Scult is a professor emeritus of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College and a professor emeritus of history at City University of New York, Graduate Center.

Communings of the Spirit is a wonderful book to dip in and out of, to feel the power of a fine thinker, well educated in Jewish, American, and Western thought, to get a sense of where American Judaism was in his day as a way to look at it in out own.

– American Jewish World

Reading Mordecai Kaplan's diaries is like standing over the shoulder of a brilliant and troubled man as he struggles to define his emerging philosophy of Judaism, while at the same time attempting to conceal from disapproving eyes the heterodox views he was formulating.

– Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, Founder and First President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College