A Modern Heretic and a Traditional Community by Jeffrey Gurock, Jacob Schacter

By Jeffrey Gurock, Jacob Schacter

Mordecai Kaplan, the founding father of the Reconstructionist circulation, was once the main influential and debatable radical Jewish philosopher within the 20th century. This publication examines the highbrow affects that moved Kaplan from Orthodoxy and analyzes the mix of private, strategic, and profession purposes that saved Kaplan on the subject of Orthodox Jews, posing a question the most important to the certainty of any faith: Can a longtime non secular team study from a heretic who has rejected its so much primary ideals?

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It was apparent that Mordecai’s father, who was then giving talmud classes in their congregation, had raised his son well and that the boy had not been ruined by attending . A year later a second boy from Israel Kaplan’s informal Talmud circle went off to study at the seminary. 27 Indeed, Abelson was but one of possibly several dozen young men from the downtown community who studied at . They included, to begin with, scions of Eastern European Orthodox families who wanted to learn how to be American rabbis after having received traditional training in Russian yeshivas.

40 However, none of these testimonials about Joffe, some of which might have been articulated within Kaplan’s earshot in the seminary dormitory, made much of an impact upon the unhappy student. Indeed, it was a frustrated Mordecai who complained to Israel Kaplan about his lack of growth in Talmud at . Acting totally in character, but in his own idiosyncractic way, Kaplan’s father hastened to remedy this situation. He turned once again to Rabbi Sossnitz, who not only tutored Kaplan in “Talmud [but also] read .

41 In retrospect Kaplan also suggested that during his “miserable years” at  he also learned next to nothing from, among others, Bernard Drachman, his professor of Bible, history, philosophy, and homiletics. ”42 However, an early bad experience with Drachman, and subsequent confrontations with that senior rabbi in the s, may have clouded or skewered Kaplan’s account of his student days and of the rabbinic role model who provided him with practical training and on-the-job experience that he needed to become a functioning and successful American Orthodox rabbi.

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