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Judaism as a Civilization

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Title: Judaism as a Civilization  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Mordecai Kaplan, Jewish peoplehood, Reconstructionist Judaism, Christianity and Judaism
Collection: 1934 Books, Books About Judaism, Reconstructionist Judaism
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Judaism as a Civilization

Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life
Author Mordecai M. Kaplan
Cover artist Janet Halverson
Country United States
Language English
Subject Judaism, Sociology of Jewry
Genre Religion
Published 1934 (The Macmillan Company), 1967 (Shocken Books)
Media type Print
Pages 601 pages (1967 edition)

Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life is a 1934 work on the Jewish religion and American Jewish life by Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism.

The book is Kaplan's most notable work and has influenced a number of American Jewish thinkers. Kaplan work centers around the concept that Judaism ought not to be defined as the religion of the Jews, but the sum of Jewish religion, culture, language, literature and social organization.


  • Background 1
  • Contents 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


In 1934, Kaplan published Judaism as a Civilization, a seminal work that eventually provided the theological foundation for the new Reconstructionist movement. Kaplan was deeply influenced by the new field of

  1. ^ Mordecai M. Kaplan. Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Accessed May 12, 2014.
  2. ^ Kaplan, Mordecai M. Judaism as a Civilization. Shocken Books. New York: 1967.
  3. ^ "Reconstructionism (Judaism)." Encyclopædia Britannica. Accessed May 12, 2014.


See also

  • Introduction
  • Part One - The Factors in the Crises
  • Part Two - The Current Versions of Judaism
  • Part Three - The Proposed Version of Judaism
  • Part Four - Israel: The Status and Organization of Jewry
  • Part Five - God: The Development of the Jewish Religion
  • Part Six - Torah: Judaism as a Way of Life for the American Jew
  • Conclusion

Judaism as a Civilization is divided as follows:


Kaplan argued that Judaism is in essence a religious civilization; the religious elements of Judaism are primarily human, naturalistic expressions of a specific culture. Kaplan felt that Jewish group survival in the United States depended on Jews reconstructing their lives on the cultural foundation of a historical peoplehood.[3]


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