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Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life Paperback – January 11, 2010
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A transformative work on modern Judaism
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One of the main arguments of his book is that there is no supernatural G-d - he does not exist. Instead, we have a Jewish civilization which was put together by humans for humans. From this civilization, we may have some wisdom, but it can be found in other places as well. There are certainly no absolutes, and Judaism needs to continue to evolve according to new moralities found in contemporary life. The reconstruction process never ends. It is driven by a humanistic/Jewish philosophy which is constantly changing and evolving. This is why Reconstructionist Judaism is always first with changing their views about any subject which becomes controversial.
Nonetheless, Kaplan believes in Jewish holidays, Jewish lineage, and Jewish culture but rejects any thought that the Jewish people are "chosen." They are just another civilization which may have a certain way of connecting with something spiritual. Reconstruction Judaism, which is the smallest of the denominations of the Jewish religion, could very well evolve into something entirely different, and based on this book, this is very likely to happen. Who knows what it may look like a hundred years from today?
It is worth reading if, for no other reason, to see how effectively one rabbi can deconstruct traditional Judaism. It also has had much more of an impact than many Jews believe. Reform and many conservative rabbis are already on this path of reconstruction.
This is not just a book of great historic importance. It is work of great relevance Kaplan's theology still remains fresh and revolutionary and greatly misunderstood. A theist who believes that God is neither a being nor supernatural!
The projects that Kaplan began in order to reconstruct American Judaism remain unfinished and this original work is still a good guide for continuing this work.